The politics of “Trumbo”



It’s not a bad film – I enjoyed it more than I’d expected – but the portrayal of the Hollywood Ten and the blacklist era isn’t entirely honest. From my piece in The Daily Express:

In one toe-curlingly embarrassing scene, we see Trumbo explaining his Marxist-Leninist beliefs to one of his young daughters. Communism, he tells her, is the same as sharing a sandwich with a school friend who has no lunch. Audiences who know little of the history of the period could be forgiven for assuming that the Communist Party is just another version of the Scouts.

But not everyone is willing to be so generous. The conservative historian Ronald Radosh, co-author of Red Star Over Hollywood, an impassioned chronicle of the blacklist, argues that, while the persecution of artists was unethical and counter-productive, the conspiratorial role that Communists and fellow-travellers played in the film world was far from benign. Secretive, singleminded and committed to following Moscow’s line through its many twists and turns – most notably the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939 – they angered and alienated many of their liberal allies.

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