Reds (1981) - Plot Summary Poster



Showing all 5 items
Jump to:


  • A radical American journalist becomes involved with the Communist revolution in Russia, and hopes to bring its spirit and idealism to the United States.

  • American journalist John Reed journeys to Russia to document the Bolshevik Revolution and returns a revolutionary. His fervor for left-wing politics leads him to Louise Bryant, then married, who will become a feminist icon and activist. Politics at home become more complicated as the rift grows between reality and Reed's ideals. Bryant takes up with a cynical playwright, and Reed returns to Russia, where his health declines.

  • The joint lives of journalists and activists John Reed - referred to as Jack in familiar circumstances - and Louise Bryant from 1915 to 1920 are presented, the former who, at the time of the making of this movie, is the only American to be buried at the Kremlin in a place of honor. In their life together, they are sometimes friends, sometimes lovers, sometimes spouses, but always idealists who hold steadfast to their beliefs. They initially meet in Portland, Oregon in 1915 when Jack returns to his hometown on a speaking engagement, he already a well known "liberal" journalist writing about how the working class is paying the price for the elitists calling the shots in the war, with Louise the repressed wife of dentist Paul Trullinger, she who has dabbled in journalism as a means of independence from her traditional life. She is protective about her writing and how to get her point of view across, which often does not mesh even with those who may agree with that point of view. Jack and Louise attracted to each other sexually and emotionally, he asks her to return to New York with him both to be with him and to give her the freedom to write what she really wants. In New York, they associate with Jack's friends - who include among others playwright Eugene O'Neill and writer/activist Emma Goldman - who largely dismiss Louise as a lightweight, just the latest of Jack's girlfriends, and/or solely, in the minds of many of the men, a sexual being to be exploited. Despite their relationship/marriage largely at its end, Jack is able to convince Louise to travel to Russia with him in 1917 to report on and be involved with the Bolshevik Revolution, which Jack feels could be the impetus for the end of the war, and if successful, a model for the American working class. It ends up being a game changer in their lives, for Jack seeing the success of the working class, and for Louise being caught up in the fervor of true idealism coming to fruition regardless of the specific issue. The Revolution will have an impact on their lives in a different way as a possible cause of them never seeing each other again, as (1) it causes Russia to be an isolated nation, (2) the scourge of Communism, Jack who is largely seen as the face of it in the US, being something that most in the mainstream of American life would like to see eradicated, and (3) Communism in Russia not being true to the academic definition of the term and perhaps not quite what Jack or his socialist associates in the US had envisioned. Through it all, an issue in the background but one that plays an integral part of their story is Jack's poor health, something that he does little to improve or care for in his goal of forwarding his leftist ideals. Interspersed with the dramatization of Jack and Louise's life are current day interviews with real life players who knew Jack and/or Louise, or who knew of the issues with which they were dealing.

  • Based on the true story of Jack Reed (played by Warren Beatty) and Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton), two American socialists and writers. During WW1 they actively campaigned for and wrote about socialist causes. When the news of the Russian Revolution broke this was seen as the chance for socialism to gain a greater foothold and popularity. Reed went to Russia to see what could be learned from the revolution and took the ideas back to the US, forming the Communist Labor Party of America. Things weren't all plain-sailing though, both in the relationship between Reed and Bryant and in politics.

  • This movie tells the true story of John Reed , a radical American journalist around the time of World War I. He soon meets Louise Bryant, a respectable married woman, who dumps her husband for Reed and becomes an important feminist and radical in her own right. After involvement with labor and political disputes in the US, they go to Russia in time for the October Revolution in 1917, when the Communists siezed power. Inspired, they return to the US, hoping to lead a similar revolution. A particularly fascinating aspect of the movie is the inclusion of interviews with "witnesses", the real-life surviving participants in the events of the movie.


  • It looks like we don't have a Synopsis for this title yet.
    Be the first to contribute! Just click the "Edit page" button at the bottom of the page or learn more in the Synopsis submission guide.

See also

Taglines | Synopsis | Plot Keywords | Parents Guide

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed