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Writers Guild restores screenplay credit to Trumbo for 'Roman Holiday'

Trumbo writers guild blacklist roman holiday

Calling it a "gift of justice for the holiday," the Writers Guild of America, West has restored Dalton Trumbo's screenplay credit to "Roman Holiday."

The iconic 1953 movie, in which Audrey Hepburn plays a cloistered princess who falls for an American journalist in Rome played by Gregory Peck, was co-written by guild writers Trumbo and his friend Ian McLellan Hunter.

But Trumbo never got a credit for his work on the film because he was blacklisted as part of the Hollywood 10 after refusing to give testimony to the House Committee on Un-American Activities about communist influence in the industry. He was cited for contempt of Congress and imprisoned.

To continue writing, he had to falsely accuse colleagues of "anti-Americanism" or write using fronts or pseudonyms.

Before McLellan Hunter was himself blacklisted, he volunteered to act as Trumbo's "front," accepting payments for "Roman Holiday" and other films and then secretly passing the money to Dalton, according to the guild.

Dalton's son, the late screenwriter Chris Trumbo, joined with his friend Tim Hunter Jr. -- the son of McLelllan Hunter -- to petition the guild to restore Trumbo's credit for "Roman Holiday." 

After investigating the matter, the guild's board, which had given a story credit to Trumbo in 1991, voted to posthumously give Trumbo a full screenplay credit for "Roman Holiday," sharing the honor with McLellan and John Dighton.

"It's not in our power to erase the mistakes or the suffering of the past,'' WGA, West President Chris Keyser said in a statement. "But we can make amends, we can pledge not to fall prey again to the dangerous power of fear or to the impulse to censor, even if that pledge is only a hope. And, in the end, we can give credit where credit is due."

The story of how the sons of the famous screenwriters worked behind the scenes to get Trumbo credit is told in the January edition of the guild's "Written By" magazine. 

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-- Richard Verrier

Photo: Dalton Trumbo, circa 1940, courtesy of Writers Guild of America, West. Credit unknown. 

 
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