Well, Gregory, I wasn't entirely pleased with the film either, his characterization of Welles and Houseman to one side, but he made a movie, an independent movie about a great period in the history of American popular arts. CRADLE WILL ROCK has to my mind a provocative thesis and many good things in it.
If I might plug my "friend" Macresarf1's Epinions review, here you will find a partial defense of the film, and why it had some importance, in my opinion, and should have been given a little more credit:
Consider all the praise heaped on FRIDA, a film compable to CRADLE WILL ROCK, which was nice enough but turned away from every serious issue of relevance raised (but the relationship between Rivera and Kahlo). Somebody might actually learn something from CRADLE WILL ROCK, no matter if it was distorted. That is more than can be said about FRIDA, which is a decorative encyclopedia entry.. Beside the point, I suppose, but I needed to say it.
As for Robbins, he does not seem a very pleasant personality, and he may be more full of himself than the average actor, but it is hard to gauge the pressures he is under, in an industry which goes along with the lowest common denominator to get along. It might embitter anyone.
Too much influence? You mean that in his prime years Tim Robbins has succeeded in financing and making *three movies, BOB ROBERTS, DEAD MAN WALKING and CRADLE WILL WALK, which I doubt few others would touch? Yes, without Welles, Robbins would not have been able to make them, but if Welles had, many would be saying, as they said in his time, that he had "too much influence."
I would judge that CRADLE WILL ROCK was Robbins vision of how the Arts began to be changed into a mass commodity in the late 1930's. The film gave us a little more than the complete misconception which RKO 281 offered.
Individuals should be given a shot to succeed or fail, if they have a track record like Robbins' has. It has often been pointed out that we make a mistake in America of insisting an artist produces in every work both an artistic and a financial success, and as in the stock market, if his/her present project is not more successful than your last one, you the person is labeled a failure.
Welles knew that, too, Gregory.
*You can hang on Robbins only that he acted in ERIK THE VIKING; he did not direct it.