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He had it all, and lost it all -- The story of Dalton Trumbo


Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in 1944.

American Masters


Aired Wednesday, 9/2 at 9pm on CPTV

“Trumbo” is the story of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo’s harrowing descent from Hollywood royalty to blacklisted writer, then to Academy Award winner. Focusing on Trumbo’s own words, the film, directed by Peter Askin, is adapted from son Christopher Trumbo’s 2003 play and features performances of some of Trumbo’s remarkable letters written during the devastation wrought by the “Red Scare” in mid-20th century, clips from some of his films, including Spartacus (1960), Exodus (1960) and Papillon (1973), and archival and contemporary interviews with those who knew him best.

An extraordinary cast that includes Joan Allen, Brian Dennehy, Michael Douglas, Paul Giamatti, Nathan Lane, Josh Lucas, Liam Neeson, David Strathairn and Donald Sutherland gives powerful performances of some of Trumbo’s collected letters. In addition, “Trumbo” features interviews with son Christopher Trumbo, daughter Mitzi Trumbo, actors Kirk Douglas and Dustin Hoffman and writers Walter Bernstein and Victor Navasky and more.

With credits for Kitty Foyle (1940) and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944) to his name — and the anti-war novel Johnny Got His Gun (1939) — the young Trumbo was one of the highest-paid Hollywood writers. Refusing to testify before House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1947, he was part of the group known as the Hollywood Ten. Convicted for contempt, he spent 11 months in federal prison and lost all right to ply his craft. Writing 30 scripts under pseudonyms, he won an Oscar in 1956 for The Brave One as Robert Rich. He was not recognized publicly again until 1960, when Otto Preminger credited him on Exodus and Kirk Douglas did so on Spartacus (1960) — actions considered to mark the end of the blacklist. As late as 1993, Trumbo was awarded a posthumous Academy-Award for Roman Holiday (1953.) Learn more...

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