TRUMBO is the story of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo’s remarkable journey from Hollywood royalty to blacklisted writer to Academy Award winner. Focusing on the writer’s own indelible words, the film features performances of some of his extraordinary letters, clips from his films and, archival and contemporary interviews with those who knew him best. The film illustrates how one man’s unerring belief in the First Amendment and the power of the written word-plus a drink or two-empowered him to fight back after being blacklisted by HUAC. Forced to write underground, letter writing became the chief repository of Trumbo’s extraordinary talents, and they serve as a wonderfully entertaining testament to his boundless intellect, acerbic humor, and staggering resilience.
Through a focus on the life of Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976), this film examines the effects on individuals and families of a congressional pursuit of Hollywood Communists after World War II. Trumbo was one of several writers, directors, and actors who invoked the First Amendment in refusing to answer questions under oath. They were blacklisted and imprisoned. We follow Trumbo to prison, to exile in Mexico with his family, to poverty, to the public shunning of his children, to his writing under others' names, and to an eventual but incomplete vindication. Actors read his letters; his children and friends remember and comment. Archive photos, newsreels and interviews add texture.