Cradle Will Rock (1999)

One of the worst planned out plays ever!

In the 1930s, as labor strikes erupt across the country, New York City launches a dramatic cultural revolution of its own. Orson Welles (Angus Macfadyen) stages the controversial titular play — a leftist manifesto. Diego Rivera (Ruben Blades) paints a socialist allegory on the walls of Rockefeller Center. And Margherita Sarfatti (Susan Sarandon) gives Da Vinci masterworks to any millionaire who’ll fund her war effort on Mussolini’s behalf.

Now this film has an insanely huge star-studded cast. It is honestly filled with some comedic and dramatic greats that it’s hard to say it almost doesn’t work, but in reality it kind of doesn’t.

It often talks down to the viewer, as it assumes that no one outside of the film and professional theater industry could know about these events or the mood of the nation at this time. The movie’s radical stance is that artists should get to do their art without being destroyed by mean rich people, and aren’t we just wonderful for agreeing with that?

The film puts all these ideas or radicalism, and communism in the film that it makes you wonder is this even about the play at all? I asked myself that many countless of times, I just wish that the film actually focused more on the play, cause I found those scenes to be more entertaining than the ones that were all about the themes of communism and radicalism.

There are some very good things about this film though. I did like the setting and I thought that was really welld done of how it actually did look like the depression era. Also, the script although packed with a lot of combustion and crazyness still does bring out some good ideas, and actually funny humor. It has very dramatic moments, but is soon brought out by it’s comedic factor which works very well at times.

The best part of this film is the acting from the cast. The film does have that great ensemble-cast who each fits their part respectively very well. Tuturro gives a very solid performance showing the anger that has always been inside of him, and Watson shows she can use her charm to probe to still be a cute young character. The best of the side performances I think was Bill Murray who plays a ventriloquist, and brings a lot of humor to the film but also the heart that the film needed.

Consensus: Cradle Will Rock is over-stuffed with way too many themes, and different stories that don’t jell together very well, but has a very witty screenplay, and a wonderfully acted ensemble cast.


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