Cradle Will Rock

( 2 )

Overview

The sometimes rocky relationship between art and politics in America in the 1930s -- as well as the gulf between the wealthy and the struggling -- sets the stage for Tim Robbins' ambitious comedy-drama Cradle Will Rock. Pulling together a variety of threads from actual events, Robbins examines the lives and ambitions of a variety of creative mavericks and figures of power. Orson Welles Angus Macfadyen and John Houseman Cary Elwes are working with Marc Bliztstein Hank Azaria to stage the latter's leftist musical ...
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Overview

The sometimes rocky relationship between art and politics in America in the 1930s -- as well as the gulf between the wealthy and the struggling -- sets the stage for Tim Robbins' ambitious comedy-drama Cradle Will Rock. Pulling together a variety of threads from actual events, Robbins examines the lives and ambitions of a variety of creative mavericks and figures of power. Orson Welles Angus Macfadyen and John Houseman Cary Elwes are working with Marc Bliztstein Hank Azaria to stage the latter's leftist musical "The Cradle Will Rock" for the WPA-funded Federal Theater Project. After Congress cuts funding for the embattled Federal Theater over the perceived leftist slant of their presentations, the project is canceled on the day of its premier. Welles and his cast respond by marching 21 blocks from the theater where the show was to open to another venue where, in deference to Actors Equity regulations, they perform the entire show from the audience. A member of Welles' cast, Aldo Silvano John Turturro, is a dedicated actor from Italy who is trying to resolve his attitudes about his family, who loyally support Mussolini, to Silvano's disgust. Meanwhile, El Duce's former mistress, Margherita Sarfatti Susan Sarandon, is consorting with industrial tycoon Gray Mathers Philip Baker Hall -- whose wife, Contesse LaGrange Vanessa Redgrave is a friend and supporter of Welles' project. Elsewhere, Nelson Rockefeller John Cusack has hired expatriot Mexican artist Diego Rivera Ruben Blades to create a mural for his projected Rockefeller Center, but the two are soon locking horns over their different views on art, politics and the work at hand. And a ventriloquist fallen on hard times, Tommy Crickshaw Bill Murray, finds himself trying to teach both comedy and speaking without lip movements to a pair of would-be performers at a WPA-backed vaudeville house. William Randolph Hearst John Carpenter, Marion Davies Gretchen Mol, Frida Kahlo Corina Katt, and Olive Stanton Emily Watson are also woven into the tapestry of this historical epic, which premiered at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Dan Friedman
From his previous directorial efforts, you know that Tim Robbins is a pretty smart guy who sometimes feels he has to let the audience in on things that he knows and no one else does. That attitude, which is highly noticeable in Cradle Will Rock, is the one detriment to the film. It's very clear where Robbins stands on the issues, and he's never been too subtle about his opinions. Sometimes you half expect to be clubbed in the head with a sign that says "Important Thematic Point." All that aside, Cradle Will Rock is a terrific movie. Focusing as it does on the events surrounding the Federal Theatre during the New Deal, Robbins does a tremendous job condensing the key events of the time into a comprehensive and intertwining narrative (hence the opening disclaimer, "a mostly true story"). The cast are all top-notch in their portrayals, particularly John Cusack as Nelson Rockefeller, Hank Azaria as Marc Blitzstein, and Cherry Jones as Federal Theatre director Hallie Flanagan. Overall, it's difficult to pick a few members of the ensemble out for special praise, as they are all good and Robbins lets them get into their roles with just a touch of the old Hollywood movie star gloss thrown in. The only true exception seems to be Angus MacFadyen as Orson Welles. Not that he doesn't give it the old college try, but comparisons will inevitably be made between Cradle Will Rock's version of Welles and the one put forth by RKO 281 at about the same time. Perhaps that problem lies in the fact that in this film, Welles is just one of many characters we follow, and, being Orson Welles, he just doesn't blend in too well with the others. MacFadyen should be credited with the attempt, but he seems a little out of sync with everyone else. At first glance, the film seems to want to be a comedy but it doesn't play for laughs as such. The plot involves the audience tremendously by shifting between six different stories. The editing is both noticeable and excellent. Usually those two terms are mutually exclusive when it comes to putting a film together but there are so many things happening simultaneously that it becomes fascinating to watch how, when, and why the film cuts from story line to story line. There is some tremendously emotionally stirring stuff here as well, which, depending not only on artistic tastes but political views, greatly affects how the film is received, although, regardless of personal opinions, the characters are sure to generate empathy. The movie is much more successful as entertainment than as a statement, and if Robbins had realized that, his film may have been even greater.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/8/2002
  • UPC: 786936123395
  • Original Release: 1999
  • Rating:

  • Source: Walt Disney Video
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Hank Azaria Marc Blitzstein
Ruben Blades Diego Rivera
Joan Cusack Hazel Huffman
John Cusack Nelson Rockefeller
Cary Elwes John Houseman
Cherry Jones Hallie Flanagan
Angus MacFadyen Orson Welles
Philip Baker Hall Gray Mathers
Bill Murray Crickshaw, Tommy
Vanessa Redgrave Countess LaGrange
Susan Sarandon Margherita Sarfatti
Jamey Sheridan John Adair
John Turturro Aldo Silvano
Emily Watson Olive Stanton
Bob Balaban Harry Hopkins
Jack Black Sid
Kyle Gass Larry
Paul Giamatti Carlo
Barnard Hughes Frank Marvel
Barbara Sukowa Sophie Silvano
John Carpenter William Randolph Hearst
Gretchen Mol Marion Davies
Harris Yulin Chairman Martin Dies
Gil Robbins Congressman Starnes
Corina Katt Frida Kahlo
Technical Credits
Tim Robbins Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Douglas Aibel Casting
Gary Chester Sound Mixer
Jean-Yves Escoffier Cinematographer
Richard Hoover Production Designer
Jon Kilik Producer
Tod A. Maitland Sound/Sound Designer
Ruth Myers Costumes/Costume Designer
Allan Nicholls Asst. Director, Executive Producer
Geraldine Peroni Editor
Lydia Dean Pilcher Producer
David Robbins Score Composer
Peter Rogers Art Director
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    great moive

    If you like powerful moving movies this is one to get. I loved it because again I love john cusack and he is great in this movie but even though he is in it for a short time. It¿s a great part. All the actors are great.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews