Director: Tim Robbins
In what must have taken years of careful research to produce, Tim Robbins crafts a historically inspired and audaciously bold film about theatrical workers and artists of all types struggling to find work, feed their families, battle censorship restrictions, and the threat of communist hearings in the overwhelming depression affected New York of 1936. Robbins managed to recruit a powerhouse cast including Bill Murray, John Turturro, John and Joan Cusack, Emily Watson, Vanessa Redgrave, Paul Giammatti, Hank Azaria, Susan Sarandon, Jack Black, Phillip Baker Hall, and many more for roles as both the up-and-comers and movers and shakers of the day including Diego Rivera, Nelson Rockefeller, William Randolph Hearst and many more. While there are way too many plot-lines and characters to keep straight in this Altman-inspired piece of chaotically intellectual cinema and thus, hard to feel too emotionally invested in each story of the many dozens introduced, it’s a must for history and theatre buffs. Taking center stage in the film is the story of Orson Welles's legendary production of the depression era commentary musical “The Cradle Will Rock” that suffered many ups and downs as censor issues, laws and threats were put into place to prevent its debut. The controversial opening of the musical has become an infamous legend and is featured in a truly moving way at the end of the film that illustrates the power of theatre better than any film in recent years. For his admirable undertaking and impressive achievement, Tim Robbins received a special award from the National Board of Review.