Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Who was, Dalton Trumbo?

I first heard of Dalton Trumbo in my first Cinema class in college. He has since become one of my heroes as a writer. We had to see some very cool films. "Network" (1976 by Paddy Chayefsky). "Zardoz" (1974). "Breaker Morant" (1980). All great films. One, was especially, special: "Johnny Got His Gun" (I haven't seen this newer, 2008 version, I saw the 1971 version with Timothy Bottoms, see below). A staunch anti war film. Written many, many years before the movie was able to be made in 1938, published in 1939. Its a startling film. I can understand why it wasn't able to be produced until the 70s.

My teacher spoke of great reverence for Dalton Trumbo and my own only grew over the years.

Dalton Trumbo, was a great man. He was a great writer. He stood up to the mentally unbalanced social bastard, Senator Eugene McCarthy, during the Communist witch trials of the 1950s. Dalton wrote so many stories.

One of my favorite movies that he wrote, was "Johnny Got His Gun" (1971). It was a story that points out many things about war and about how we can forget, or even may want to forget, our disabled vets; and yet, so much more.

Dalton Trumbo's 1970 speech to the Screen Writers Guild for his Laurel Award

"The blacklist was a time of evil, and that no one on either side who survived it came through untouched by evil. Caught in a situation that had passed beyond the control of mere individuals, each person reacted as his nature, his needs, his convictions, and his particular circumstances compelled him to. There was bad faith and good, honesty and dishonesty, courage and cowardice, selflessness and opportunism, wisdom and stupidity, good and bad on both sides.

"When you who are in your forties or younger look back with curiosity on that dark time, as I think occasionally you should, it will do no good to search for villains or heroes or saints or devils because there were none; there were only victims. Some suffered less than others, some grew and some diminished, but in the final tally we were all victims because almost without exception each of us felt compelled to say things he did not want to say, to do things that he did not want to do, to deliver and receive wounds he truly did not want to exchange. That is why none of us - right, left, or center - emerged from that long nightmare without sin."

If you want to know more, check out the documentary on him, "Trumbo".

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