leave a comment --Meakin Armstrong
While a bit thin and simplistic, this biopic is worth viewing for its background information on the Hollywood blacklist years, and the making of the only film ever suppressed by the US government: SALT OF THE EARTH (1954). We follow Herbert Biberman (Jeff Goldblum), a movie director, and husband of Gale Sondergaard (Greta Scacchi); who, with nine other directors and writers, is faced with the famous question, “Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” Biberman refuses to answer. He’s put in jail for a year along with the rest of the Hollywood Ten, and his career is destroyed. Upon release, he and a few other blacklisted filmmakers make the movie classic SALT OF THE EARTH. At this point the film gets interesting. SALT OF THE EARTH is about an effort to unionize a mine and was made with the cooperation of the union. During its filming the crew is harassed, one of the stars is deported, but the production goes on. Because entire government forces of anti-American suspicion are represented by one character - the obsessed FBI agent (Christopher Fulford as Riffkind) very little about the what was going on in the 1950s is explained. See SALT OF THE EARTH, then see this movie to understand why SALT is a truly great film.