Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Cradle Will Rock


From 1934 to 1937 the Federal Theater Project was part of the WPA, intended to put creative people back to work. This is the true story of how commie-hunters shut it down, and of one of the last performances. Characters are people like Orson Welles, John Houseman, William R. Hearst, Nelson Rockefeller, and Diego Rivera. The cast is a director’s dream: Hank Azaria, Rubén Blades, Joan Cusack, John Cusack, Cary Elwes, Philip Baker Hall, Cherry Jones, Bill Murray, Vanessa Redgrave, Susan Sarandon, John Turturro, Emily Watson, and many others. The directors is Tim Robbins. The production is lavish and there are some great moments, but it tries to do too much. I’d have preferred to stick with the production of the play, which is enough of a story in itself. I’d have lost the part between Rivera and Rockefeller, and minimized the hearings before the Senate committee. The stuff with Hearst and his rich cronies is heavy-handed and obvious. Still, worth seeing.