Plot & Details
The troubled career of blacklisted director Herbert Biberman, who endured a considerable struggle to make the 1954 pro-Labor film Salt of the Earth, provides the centerpiece for this historical drama. The film opens at the 1937 Academy Awards, where Biberman's wife, Gale Sondergaard (Greta Scacchi), wins the first ever "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar. Although the anti-Fascist sentiment in her acceptance speech gets her labeled a "commie" by some observers, she and Biberman (played here by Jeff Goldblum) are placed under contract at Warner Bros. Ten years later, with Cold War paranoia growing, a group of predominantly Jewish Hollywood directors -- Biberman, Sondergaard, Danny Kaye, and Dalton Trumbo among them -- are labeled Communists and questioned before Congress. Refusing to name names, Biberman is thrown in prison for six months; his wife's similar refusal to testify severely threatened her career as well. After his release from prison, Biberman, no longer able to work in Hollywood, strikes out on his own with other blacklistees, producer Paul Jarrico (John Sessions) and writer Michael Wilson (Geraint Wyn Davies), to make Salt of the Earth. Biberman's production is far from easy, however, as it comes under attack from both the FBI and redneck vigilantes.