Faith Reels: ‘Trumbo’ … courage is contagious, but sometimes takes awhile



By Bonnie Anderson and Dan Webster


Hollywood likes to make movies about the blacklist. It was the period of the late 1940s to the 60s when the “Red scare” so infected our country that innocent people were investigated, targeted and marginalized so much that lives were devastated and some even ended prematurely.


‘Trumbo’ is a “biographical” (Hollywood style) film about screenwriter James Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) who took an almost solitary stand when he and other prominent Hollywood figures were put on the government “blacklist” and subpoenaed to appear before a congressional committee charged with investigating their alleged association with the Communist Party.


This movie is the latest offering from the film community to shed even more light on a very dark period. These movies show how fear, stoked by politicians and celebrities, can change public opinion into a society that forgets its roots as well as the founding document that separated us from the rest of the world—the U.S. Constitution.


Once subpoenaed to appear before the congressional committee, Trumbo and other Hollywood screen writers and some prominent actors, were mercilessly roasted by gossip columnist queen Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren), making their ability to find work impossible, lest the hiring studios also come under suspicion. Mirren’s verbal performance is mundane, but her eyebrows are spectacular.


The use of actual newsreel footage adjacent to original pictures that move from black and white to color is quite well done. It may surprise some who in the Hollywood community and in Washington was on which side.


Fast forward to 2015 and one can’t help but hear the words of the current political rhetoric. Just replace “communist” with “Muslim” and the same fear tactic is still with us. And it works in any society said Hitler’s number two, Hermann Goering, whether communist, fascist, dictatorship or democracy.


“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peace makers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country,” said Goering.


Christians who believe in seeking and serving Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves, and respecting the dignity of every human being will want to see this film and wonder, where would I have been in the midst of this persecution? Maybe you recall which side you were on.

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