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Trumbo


Found in: langauge arts & literature, social studies, 9-12

Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976) was an American novelist and top Hollywood screenwriter. He wrote the novel Johnny Got His Gun and others and the screenplays for Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, Roman Holiday, Spartacus, Exodus, Papillon, and many more. In 1947, he was one of the Hollywood 10 subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) during its investigation of Communist influence in Hollywood. He and the others refused. As a result, they were jailed for contempt of Congress and blacklisted by the movie industry. Ultimately, hundreds of actors, writers, and directors were blacklisted. The movie Trumbo (2015) recounts the story of HUAC, the Hollywood 10, and Trumbo’s blacklisting, and how he continued to write 30 scripts for movies under pseudonyms. (The movie opens on November 25th.)

A documentary Trumbo (1:23:33) (2009) was produced by PBS American Masters and can be viewed online. A DVD might be in a local library as well. The companion website  includes a biography, scenes and outtakes from the film, and a clip of Trumbo’s HUAC testimony.

HUAC and Hollywood Video clip from None Without Sin (5:54) and support materials on the Hollywood blacklist and House Un-American Activities Committee for students in grades 9-12. National and Common Core Standards are listed. (None Without Sin: Kazan, Miller, and the McCarthy Era is another American Masters documentary that focuses on the McCarthy Era rather than HUAC.)

The following lessons and resources provide broader context for the post World War II anti-communist climate.

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