This film is Tim Robbins' attempt to crystallize the American cultural climate of the Depression by taking the various arts events happening in New York at the time and melding them into an intricately interwoven but embellished tale. The pivotal story surrounds the creation and production of the musical “Cradle Will Rock” written by Marc Blitzstein (Azaria) and produced by the Federal Theatre Project. The all-star cast includes
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Rubén Blades as Diego Rivera and John Cusack as Nelson Rockefeller in the storyline following Rivera's mural commission and eventual dismissal.
Azaria, Cary Elwes as John Houseman, Cherry Jones as Hallie Flanagan, Angus MacFadyen as Orson Welles are the primary characters in the WPA production sequences, but John Turturro and Emily Watson play fictionalized “everyman” worker characters whose lives intersect with those of Welles and Houseman. These characters also add more social context to the story – specifically about feminism and ethnic identity in a changing America. In yet another story, Bill Murray portrays Tommy Crickshaw, a ventriloquist who's seen better days and is so fed up with trying to teach numbskulls (Tenacious D's Jack Black and Kyle Gass) his art that he attends a meeting by Hazel Huffman (Joan Cusack) at which she is fishing for information to be fed to the HUAC. Yet another storyline has Margherita Sarfatti (Susan Sarandon) selling artwork to Rockefeller and his cronies to fund Mussolini prior to the United States' entrance into World War II.
The review of this Movie prepared by ldpaulson