Dalton Trumbo was among other things a screenwriter famous for Johnny got his Gun and famous or infamous, depending on your point of view, for his refusal to testify for HUAC earning him the honor of contempt of Congress (spent nearly a year in jail) and a blacklisting which would earn him a spot in the Hollywood Ten. He would revive his career somewhat when he produced Spartacus (which unfortunately inspired a long series of cheap imitations including Gladiator and Braveheart), the epic which was designed and had the effect of breaking the back of the Hollywood blacklist. He didn’t get along with the writer, Howard Fast, whom he considered to be dogmatic and narrow-minded. But the movie was made using a number of blacklisted individuals and it made the difference.
Through the experience Trumbo wrote,”This blacklisting is going to collapse because it is rotten, immoral and illegal. I am one day going to be working openly in the motion picture industry. When that day comes, I swear to you that I will never sign a term contract with any major studio. I will, proudly and by preference, do at least one picture a year for King Brothers, and I will try to make it the best picture that I have it in me to do.” (from Trumbo’s letter to the King Brothers, in The Penguin Book of Hollywood, ed. by Christopher Sylvester, 1998)
He was a member of the Communist Party for about 5 years, most of them during the war. But he was what Marxists refer to as an “idealist” and really had no interest in reading Marx or pontificating about class struggle. He was attributed with the statement, “I never considered the working class anything other than something to get out of.”
He also bucked the party line when it came to his forgiveness of Hollywood figures who did squeal, such as Elia Kazan (who had been friends with Arthur Miller, the latter of whom took a couple of decades to forgive). Trumbo viewed them as victims of McCarthyism rather than collaborators.
The L.A. Times reviews the documentary, entitled simply Trumbo. Since I’m plugging their review, I won’t feel guilty using their photo.
I’m not finding a website for the documentary, but IMDB has this page up.