American Masters: Trumbo is adapted from his son Christopher’s 2003 play and based on the remarkable letters Dalton Trumbo wrote during the devastation wrought by the ‘Red Scare’ in mid-20th century. With credits for Kitty Foyle and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo to his name – and the anti-war novel Johnny Got His Gun – the young Trumbo was one of the highest paid Hollywood writers. Refusing to testify before House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1947, he was part of the group known as the Hollywood Ten. Convicted for contempt of Congress, he spent 11 months in federal prison and lost all right to ply his craft.
Writing 30 scripts under pseudonyms – he won an Oscar in 1956 for The Brave One as Robert Rich – he was not recognized publicly again until 1960, when Otto Preminger credited him on Exodus and Kirk Douglas did so on Spartacus – actions considered to mark the end of the blacklist. As late as 1993, Trumbo was awarded a posthumous Academy Award for Roman Holiday (1953.)