In Havana, Cuba in the late 1950s, a wealthy family, one of whose sons is a prominent night-club owner, is caught in the violent transition from the oppressive regime of Batista to the ... See full summary »
In 1930s New York Orson Welles tries to stage a musical on a steel strike under the Federal Theater Program despite pressure from an establishment fearful of industrial unrest and red activity. Meanwhile Nelson Rockefeller gets the foyer of his company headquarters decorated and an Italian countess sells paintings for Mussolini.Written by
This film is based on actual events, though it takes liberties with the details. Marc Blitzstein's 1937 anti-capitalist operetta 'The Cradle Will Rock', about the effort to unionize steelworkers, was originally produced as part of the Federal Theatre Project. The Federal Theatre Project (1935-1939), in turn, was part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which was created in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to employ people during the Great Depression. Directed by Orson Welles and produced by John Houseman, Cradle was shut down right before it was due to open because of "budget cuts" at the FTP. Everyone involved believed the government deliberately cut funding because the play's message offended its more conservative contingent; Actor's Equity prohibited its members from taking part, apparently oblivious to the fact that Cradle was a pro-union piece and Actor's Equity was - and is - a union. Welles, Housman and Blitzstein spontaneously rented another theater and planned to put on Cradle with Blitzstein himself singing/reading the piece; the show sold out and various actors defied Equity and performed their parts from the seats they'd bought. The secondary plot which involved Mexican painter Diego Rivera butting heads with Nelson Rockefeller when the mural the latter commissioned for a Rockefeller Center lobby on the high-minded subject of "human intelligence in control of the forces of nature" included a portrait of Lenin, is also based on fact, though it happened in 1933. The incident is also dramatized in the 2002 film Frida (2002). Tim Robbins included it because it tied into the theme of artistic integrity vs. economic practicality. See more »
The opening scene takes place in "Fall 1936", but the newsreel says Italian forces are "poised to invade" Ethiopia. The invasion actually took place in October 1935. See more »
There is a heart in the credit roll with the following initials inside; SS, EMLA, JHR & MGR (SS is likely 'Susan Sarandon,' EMLA for Sarandon's daughter Eva Amurri, JHR & MGR for Robbins' & Sarandon's sons Jack Henry & Miles Robbins). See more »
Cradle Will Rock has everything I like in a movie - great characters, humor, suspense, depth, and music. The many subplots are woven together in perfect balance, leaving you wanting more of everything at the end, even though the film is over two hours.
The acting is excellent all around, especially Cherry Jones' portrayal of Hallie Flanagan, the head of the Federal Theater. Ruben Blades and Angus MacFadyen give us Diego Rivera and Orson Welles, respectively, and do not disappoint. It's rare to see so many charismatic, likeable people in a movie with a real story. There is no one star of the film - everyone is sharing the spotlight equally. Tim Robbins has really done a magnificent job of putting all the pieces in the right places.
And perhaps best of all, this is a film with real controversy - one that will get you thinking about art and politics and unions and the influence of money on everything. Cradle Will Rock is such an ambitious piece of work, it could have failed in so many different ways, and yet it succeeds on every level. Check it out.
30 of 40 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this