Cradle Will Rock

Last Updated on: October 18th, 2023

Cradle Will Rock (Touchstone Movie)

“Cradle Will Rock” is a 1999 historical drama film directed by Tim Robbins. Set in the 1930s during the Great Depression, the film explores the impact of art and politics on society. It takes its name from the famous painting by Diego Rivera, “Man at the Crossroads,” which was controversially destroyed by the Rockefellers after Rivera included an image of Lenin in it.

The story revolves around several interconnected characters, including Diego Rivera (Rubén Blades), his wife Frida Kahlo (Selma Hayek), Orson Welles (Angus Macfadyen), Nelson Rockefeller (John Cusack), and several others. The film weaves together various plotlines that center on the Federal Theatre Project (FTP), a government-sponsored program that employed artists and performers during the Depression.

The main focus is on the production of the play “The Cradle Will Rock,” written by Marc Blitzstein (Hank Azaria). The play is a bold and politically charged musical about the struggles of the working class against corporate greed and political corruption. However, due to its controversial themes, the FTP is ordered to shut it down on the night of its premiere.

In response, Orson Welles and other artists decide to stage the play independently in a nearby theater, defying the government’s orders and the threats of arrest. The film follows their journey to find a venue and their determination to stand up for artistic freedom and free speech.

“Cradle Will Rock” is not only a historical drama but also a powerful exploration of the power of art to challenge the status quo and inspire change. It delves into the lives of artists who fearlessly use their talents to make a difference in society and the struggles they face against censorship and repression.

The film boasts a stellar ensemble cast, with standout performances from Hank Azaria as the passionate Marc Blitzstein, John Cusack as the conflicted Nelson Rockefeller, and Angus Macfadyen as the charismatic Orson Welles. The cinematography and art direction capture the vibrant atmosphere of 1930s New York City, and the soundtrack features music from the original play.

“Cradle Will Rock” is a thought-provoking and compelling film that highlights the importance of artistic expression, freedom of speech, and the impact of political and social upheavals on artists and society. It serves as a reminder of the enduring power of art to challenge the establishment and inspire change in times of adversity.

Additional Details


  • Hank Azaria: Marc Blitzstein
  • Bob Balaban: Harry Hopkins
  • Jack Black: Sid
  • Rubén Blades: Diego Rivera
  • Corina Katt Ayala: Frida Kahlo
  • Victoria Clark: Dulce Fox
  • Joan Cusack: Hazel Huffman
  • John Cusack: Nelson Rockefeller
  • Cary Elwes: John Houseman
  • Kyle Gass: Larry
  • Paul Giamatti: Carlo
  • Philip Baker Hall: Gray Mathers
  • Erin Hill: Sandra Mescal
  • Barnard Hughes: Frank Marvel
  • Cherry Jones: Hallie Flanagan
  • Angus Macfadyen: Orson Welles
  • Bill Murray: Tommy Crickshaw
  • Allan F. Nicholls: George Zorn
  • Vanessa Redgrave: Countess Constance LaGrange
  • Gil Robbins: Congressman Joe Starnes
  • Susan Sarandon: Margherita Sarfatti
  • Jamey Sheridan: John Adair
  • Barbara Sukowa: Sophie Silvano
  • John Turturro: Aldo Silvano
  • Emily Watson: Olive Stanton
  • Harris Yulin: Congressman Martin Dies


  • Director: Tim Robbins
  • Producer: Tim Robbins
  • Writer: Tim Robbins

Movie Trailer:

About the Author

Craig Smith
I am founder and editor of My passion for all things Disney goes pretty far back to my first trip to Walt Disney World in the mid-80's. I have since returned to the magical place more than 20 times. I started this site when I came to the realization that I spent a significant portion of my day reading articles about Disney and watching Disney content with my 8-year old, so it made sense that I would start sharing some of what I read and see and building a little community around it. Other interests include 80's nostalgia, vintage toys, video games, LEGO, Star Wars and tech gadgets. Other sites include DMR and