Guilty by Suspicion (1991)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Political Drama, Period Film, Showbiz Drama  |   Release Date - Mar 15, 1991 (USA)  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - France , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Michael Costello

Veteran producer Irwin Winkler's first film as a director is a solid, if predictable, drama on the devastating effects of the House Un-American Activities Committee on Hollywood in the 1950s. The story of a highly regarded film director (Robert De Niro) who refuses to name his friends before the HUAC and the terrible aftermath of that decision, the film demonstrates how the lives of hundreds of people were irrevocably altered or destroyed by the fanatical star-chamber. Winkler, who also wrote the film, seems to have been trying for a low-key approach to a subject that would seem to lend itself to hysteria, but in the process he has gone too far in the opposite direction and drained away much of the drama. His golden-boy protagonist is simply too restrained, thoughtful, and well mannered to be compelling as a man fighting for his life and career. There is a similarly distanced feeling about almost all of the characters in the film, so that when one blacklisted actress drives off a cliff, it's difficult to have much of a response. This sense of bland muteness is carried over into the art direction, with sets awash in gray and mauve. Yet, for those who know little or nothing about the period, the painstaking historical accuracy of the script should provide an excellent introduction to one of America's most shameful periods.