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In his years on the black­list, Dal­ton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) eked out a liv­ing writ­ing quickie schlock for in­die pro­duc­ers Frank and Hymie King (John Good­man and Stephen Root), so there’s some con­text at least for this dis­ap­point­ing biopic of one of Hol­ly­wood’s great writ­ers and im­por­tant fig­ures. Jailed in 1947 for con­tempt of Congress for re­fus­ing to dis­cuss his per­sonal be­liefs and as­so­ci­a­tions, Trumbo, once the movie in­dus­try’s high­est paid screen­writer, strug­gled for years, writ­ing through fronts and aliases. In that time he wrote two Os­car-win­ning scripts, and his re­lent­less­ness fi­nally broke the back of the black­list with his cred­ited screen­play for Kirk Dou­glas’ Spar­ta­cus. Jay Roach’s movie hits its marks with heavy boots. In sup­port­ing roles, Louis C.K. is out­stand­ing, and He­len Mir­ren car­i­ca­tures the odi­ous gos­sip colum­nist Hedda Hop­per. Cranston proves that fine act­ing is not enough, if the script isn’t right. Trumbo could have used a pass or two through Dal­ton Trumbo’s type­writer. Rated R. 124 min­utes. Vi­o­let Crown. (Jonathan Richards)

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