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Reds: An American Epic Historical Drama Movie!

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Table of Contents

About The Movie Reds

Reds is a 1981 American epic historical drama movie co-written, produced, and directed by Warren Beatty. It is about the life and career of journalist and writer John Reed, whose 1919 book Ten Days That Shook the World told the story of the Russian October Revolution. Beatty plays the main character, and Jack Nicholson plays Eugene O’Neill. Diane Keaton plays Louise Bryant, and Jack Nicholson plays O’Neill.

Edward Herrmann, Jerzy Kosinski, Paul Sorvino, Maureen Stapleton, Gene Hackman, Ramon Bieri, Nicolas Coster, and M. Emmet Walsh are among the people who play supporting roles.

The film features interviews with 98-year-old peace campaigner and educator Scott Nearing, author Dorothy Frooks, reporter and author George Seldes, civil rights activist Roger Baldwin, and American writer Henry Miller.

Beatty won Best Director, but Chariots of Fire won Best Picture. Beatty, Keaton, Nicholson, and Stapleton received acting nominations.

The only person to win was Stapleton. Beatty is the third person nominated for three Oscars for the same film. Best Actor, Best Director, and Original Screenplay. He lost all three awards to Chariots of Fire.

In June 2008, the American Film Institute released “AFI’s 10 Top 10,” a list of the best ten movies in ten “classic” American film genres. The list was based on votes from more than 1,500 people in the film industry. In the epic genre, Reds came in ninth.

reds movie

The Plot of The Movie Reds

In 1915, radical journalist John Reed and married journalist and suffragist Louise Bryant meet for the first time at a lecture in Portland, Oregon. Louise is interested in John’s idealism. After spending the whole night with him at an interview about international politics, she realises that writing has been the only way for her to get away from her hard life. Bryant leaves her husband and moves to Greenwich Village with Reed. There, she meets activists and artists like the author and anarchist Emma Goldman and the playwright Eugene O’Neill.

Later, they move to Provincetown, Massachusetts, to write and get involved in the theatre scene there. Bryant turns into a feminist and a radical on her own through her writing. Reed joins the “Reds” of the Communist Labor Party of America in their work strikes. He’s frustrated of attempting to change the world, so he covers the 1916 DNC in St. Louis.

While Reed is away, Bryant has an affair with O’Neill, which gets complicated. Reed finds out about the affair when he gets back, and he realises that he still loves Bryant. The two get married in secret and live together in Croton-on-Hudson, which is north of New York City. However, they still want different things. When Reed admits to cheating on his wife, Bryant gets on a ship and goes to Europe to work as a war reporter. Reed is told to avoid travel and stress after a renal flare-up, but he continues. As the 1917 Russian Revolution and Czarist fall unfold, they realise their love hasn’t faded.

The second part of the movie happens soon after Ten Days That Shook the World came out. Reed dislikes Zinoviev and the Bolsheviks. The Revolution motivated him. As he leaves Europe, he is briefly detained in Finland. He goes back to Russia, where he meets Bryant at the Moscow train station. Reed is getting weaker and weaker because of spotted typhus at this point. Bryant helps care for Reed, who is sick and will eventually die.

reds movie

Music

In the movie, Jean-Pierre Rampal and Claude Bolling sing Stephen Sondheim’s “Goodbye for Now.” Barbra Streisand later put the song on her album The Movie Album (2003).

reds movie

Reception

Reds came out on December 4, 1981, and was praised by critics. Even though the movie was about politics and Beatty didn’t do much to promote it, it was the 13th highest-grossing movie of 1981. It made $40 million at the U.S. box office, which doesn’t include its earnings in other countries or from home video, worldwide broadcast and cable television, subscription television, and streaming services. Later, Beatty said that the movie “made a little money” at the box office. During the movie’s second and third weekends, people worried that it would bomb like Heaven’s Gate, but over the next month, it did better. The president, Ronald Reagan, watched the movie at the White House.

John Simon of the National Review wrote, “Reds is often annoying and in the end disappointing, but it’s never really boring.” Richard Grenier wrote a mostly negative review for a commentary. He said, among other things, that the film hid the Communist politics of the main characters and overstated Bryant’s talent and accomplishments. On the other hand, in a retrospective article for Jacobin, Jim Poe called Reds “one of the greatest and most faithful depictions of revolutionary politics.” He praised its “light touch and brisk storytelling” for an epic, as well as its cinematography, changes in mood, and performances, especially those of Keaton and Beatty.

Based on 47 reviews, the website Rotten Tomatoes gives Reds an 89% “Fresh” rating, which is the same as a 7.90/10 rating. “Brawny in both intellect and scope, Reds is an intimate epic that captures the chaos of revolutionary change and the passion of those living through it,” says the site’s consensus. Based on 15 reviews, the movie has a score of 76 out of 100 on Metacritic, which means that most people liked it.

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