Yesterday we saw that actor Bryan Cranston, in the course of promoting his new movie Trumbo, has promoted it by claiming that Stalin wasn’t a Communist and that Dalton Trumbo, the real-life mid-century Communist screenwriter whom he plays in the picture, wasn’t really a Communist either – not in any negative sense, anyway.
Hearing Cranston try to sell this line of hogwash the other day on the Howard Stern Show, we were hoping he was just misspeaking (perhaps owing to the early hour?). But the next day The Daily Beast ran an interview with him in which he made the very same claims, in – curiously – the exact same words:
Stalin wasn’t a communist; he was a fascist dictator. But the name “communism” stuck to that. The American Communist Party at the time, which really grew out of the Depression where nobody had a job, was supposed to be like the political arm of labor unions so that more jobs for the working man could be created. But they had the title “Communist” in there. If they called themselves the American Worker Party, maybe things would’ve been different. But with the name “Communist,” people thought, oh, well the American Communist Party must want to take over the country, so we need to weed them out!
Sheer nonsense. The fact that he repeated the same nonsense in the very same words makes it clear that he was regurgitating a PR line furnished him by the film’s publicists. Or the director. Or somebody. Why are these people rewriting history in order to flack a movie? It’s despicable. It’s irresponsible. And it’s exactly the kind of bald-faced lying that Communist screenwriters of the 1930s and 40s practiced in their own pro-Soviet scripts.
As for Cranston, does he really not know that the American Communist Party was a fully owned and operated subsidiary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, that its members took vows promising to help bring Soviet-style Communism to the U.S., and that they took their orders directly from the Kremlin?
Does he really not know that Trumbo, far from being a First Amendment champion, or a political naif who was undone by his concern about “jobs for the working man,” was a well-informed and devoutly committed Stalinist?
Yes, it must’ve been tough for Trumbo to see a name other than his own on the movies he wrote during the blacklist years. It must’ve been tough to see his scripts win Oscars and not be able to show up at the ceremony to pick up his trophy and wave it around at parties afterwards. But his ordeal (if that’s the right word), when compared to the unspeakably monstrous punishments that were meted out by good old Uncle Joe in Moscow to millions of innocent Soviet subjects – acts that Trumbo, ever the devoted acolyte, fully supported and ardently defended – can hardly be depicted as the stuff of tragedy.