11 May 2008 | xredgarnetx
Lots of fun and educational, up to a point
An all-star production, CRADLE WILL ROCK chronicles the events leading up to the debut of Mark Blitzstein's "The Cradle Will Rock," a labor-oriented drama with music, written in the turbulent 1930s. It is to be performed at the WPA Federal Theater, but the government gets cold feet at the last minute and closes the theater. So the players take their production to a private theater and perform before an SRO crowd. Oddly enough, the performance turns out to be the least interesting part of the film, done up in a "Let's fix up the old barn and put on a show" routine seen in countless Andy Hardy and Little Rascals films. It is what happens before that is fascinating, as we shift back and forth between New York and Washington and are exposed to the "isms" of this post Depression/pre-WWII time: communism and fascism. One supposes most of what writer/director Tim Robbins portrays here is real enough, but keep in mind Robbins is an avowed leftist and so the film is probably best taken with a large dose of salt. But what a cast: John and Joan Cusack, Susan (Mrs. Tim Robbins) Sarandon, Cary Elwes, John Turturro, Jack Black, Bill Murray, Vanessa Redgrave, Ruben Blades and Hank Azaria. All play real-life figures of the era, including Orson Welles and John Rockefeller. A must-see for art-house film lovers and those interested in the period. All others, beware.