Trumbo is a great film for writers and especially screenwriters. Following the later life of one of America’s greatest script writers for hire the film looks in detail at the shameful Hollywood Blacklist which forced showbiz types to name those with communist sympathies.

At the start of the film Trumbo is a successful champagne socialist, living in a big house, mixing with the best in the business while all the time espousing very left wing views. The film follows his fight with the authorities over his right to believe whatever ideology he wants to.

He ends up in jail and then once out can’t gain any employment. He turns to the lower echelons of the film industry and fights his way back in writing B-pictures and finally Oscar winning scripts under various names and sometimes using other writers as fronts for his work.

Finally, the industry wakes up and begins to hire him for better work, and finally they put his name on the screen again. The blacklist soon falls apart.

Based on a very good book, the film zips along at pace and has some very good performances. Cranston is good as Trumbo, Diane Lane doesn’t have much to do but actually provides one of the most touching scenes in the picture and Helen Mirren shines as Hedda Hopper.

What’s interesting for script writers is watching some of Trumbo’s methods, his cut and paste script writing technique is familiar to me – the film is also insightful about cutting deals with producers, when Trumbo is reduced to doing this himself.

I’ve worked on produced feature films and shorts as ghost writer, I’ve negotiated my own deals too – I’ve also gone into business with one or two unscrupulous producers who’ve disappeared into the ether when payment is demanded. Watching parts of this film was a bit like a day at the office for me…

It’s a good film. See it…

Matthew Cooper has written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs. Matthew was winner of the first ever Lloyds Bank Channel Four Film Challenge, the Oscar Moore Screenplay Prize and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s been a script consultant and script writer for hire for over 20 years. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on