GUILTY BY SUSPICION

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Guilty by Suspicion Cover The 'Hollywood blacklist' was a ‘list’ devised in the 1950’s, relating to people in the entertainment industry who were denied employment due to their political beliefs. Now for more information, please check out this 104 minute movie made in 1991. It was Directed by: Irwin Winkler; and Starred: Robert De Niro, Annette Bening, with Martin Scorsese.


Guilty by Suspicion


THE STORY:
I can't believe this is happening to me. Honestly I can't. I mean, for crying out loud, how dare he ask me to do such a thing. How dare that trial layer (Sam Wanamaker) ask me to attend a committee helmed by the House of Un-American Activities, just so I can tell them which one of my friends are commies!

Well? Doesn't he know who I am, God damn it? I'm the big shot Hollywood director called David Merrill (Robert De Niro). And no way in my life will I ever... ever... ever... think about snitching on my pals.

Granted. I'm sure that by not going along to this 'show trail' life will be rather difficult for a short while. I won't be able to provide for my ex-wife Ruth (Annette Bening) and my son like they've been used to. Plus I bet my bottom dollar Benny (George Wendt) won't like hearing this news either! Especially since it will put a right dampener on his writing career. 

But, hey! If I'm lucky, I might be able to ride this unjust order out over time. And avoid getting kicked out of town like my director friend Joe Lesser (Martin Scorsese) did. Then again, maybe the opposite will also be true. And if I don't do as they say, I will find myself out of work and out of Hollywood altogether. 

Still. That's most probably why what next transpires all goes to New York City in spite of my producer's demands. As a short trip leads back home - a sudden death causes me to moan - disappointment keeps on coming my way - and at the end of the day, history has one hell of a debt to pay.




THE REVIEW:
Now to put it in laymen's terms, I'd say 'Guilty by Suspicion' is a true-life tale of America’s dark past, and depicts a very bleak period in motion picture history in a rather entertaining and revealing manner. Honestly, folks. This film doesn't try to gloss over the harsh realities people where placed in during this dark time. Instead, it tries to tell a somewhat expansive and troubled tale in a very direct and simple fashion.

Guilty By Suspicion Robert De Niro
There are no special effects. There is no Hollywood sheen. All there is, is one man’s battle to uphold his own moral principles.

And do you know what? That is precisely what is at the heart of this film -- principles -- plus what one man has to endure just to stand up for what he believes in. Thankfully, it doesn't try to convey this notion with lengthy exposition or detailed accounts on who said what to whom and for why. Rather, it allows us to follow a man’s slow journey into exile, and how he had to make some sacrifices for his ideals.

Admittedly, certain short hand devices have been used within the overall pretext, making this movie appear somewhat judgmental about this matter. Nevertheless, by this point in time, it's a proven fact that the House of Un-American Activities was a 'bad thing'. Cause I'm sure that any of you out there in cyberland wouldn't like to be forced into testifying against a loved one because of governmental edict.


Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro in Guilty by Suspicion


Guilty By Suspition with Annette Bening
Anyway. That's enough of that for the moment methinks. As this looks like a pretty good time for some filmic-facts. (1) 'Warner Bros' first released this $16 million dollar production on the 15th of March, 1991, and eventually clawed back $9.4 million dollars at the box office. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'Witch Hunt' in Spain; 'Wrong Truth' in Finland; and 'Blacklisted' in Denmark. (3) Except for those scenes shot in '20th Century Fox Studios', Century City, the rest of this movie was shot on location throughout the American state of California. This includes the Ambassador Hotel, in Wilshire Boulevard; City Hall, in Downtown LA; Greystone Park & Mansion, in Beverly Hills; plus numerous parts of Malibu and Pasadena. (4) Abraham Polonsky, who was a 'blacklisted' writer / director that original wrote the screenplay for this film, pulled himself away from it altogether because the director of this project, Irwin Winkler, changed De Niro's character from a Communist to a Liberal, contrary to what actually happened. (5) Now if you took any notice of my previous fact, you might like to know that Irwin based his 'revised De Niro character' on the blacklisted director, John Berry, who played a nightclub owner in his 1986 produced musical-drama, 'Round Midnight. (6) The character Martin Scorsese plays in this flick, Joe Lesser, is based on the real life director, Joseph Losey, who fled Hollywood during the 1950s because of the HUAC trails. (7) Despite portraying a trail lawyer in this picture, in real life Sam Wanamaker was in fact a blacklist victim of the McCarthy era. (8) After this movie took to the stand, Robert De Niro starred in the action-adventure, 'Backdraft'; Annette Bening starred in the drama, 'Regarding Henry'; and George Wendt starred in a episode of the popular television series, 'Tales From The Crypt'.


Guilty by Suspicion Film Poster


Now before I bugger off to God knows where, I'd just like to mention that although I felt that the direction and presentation of 'Guilty By Suspicion' was a fairly simple affair, this was more than made up for with the performances it had on offer. De Niro was amazing. Bening was charming. Scorsese was a nice touch. And Wendt (or 'Norm in Cheers' to you and me) was surprisingly good too.

Oh! And an top of that, the overall story-line was very ornate in the way that it was told. With each and every scene having a longevity within the overall arc, making it appear more complete as a narrative in its own right.

Yeah! Straight up. All in all this movie is a highly recommended movie. And I would encourage anyone who are big fans of bio-pics or true life tales to see it whenever they can.

Nuff said.

THE RATING: A-