[[caption-width-right:350: It won 3 oscars in the end]]

''Reds'' is a 1981 American epic film that was co-written, produced, directed by and starred Creator/WarrenBeatty. It centers on the life and career of John Reed, the revolutionary communist, journalist, and writer who chronicled the [[UsefulNotes/RedOctober Russian Revolution]] in his book ''Ten Days that Shook the World''. Beatty stars in the lead role alongside Diane Keaton, who plays Reed's wife Louise Bryant, and Creator/JackNicholson as Creator/EugeneONeill. Creator/StephenSondheim composed music for the film.

The first half of the film chronicles the early life of Reed and Bryant, their often troubling relationship, and their experiences reporting on the Communist revolution in Russia. The second part of the film takes place shortly after the publication of ''Ten Days''. Inspired by the idealism of the Revolution, Reed attempts to bring the spirit of Communism to the United States, because he is disillusioned with the policies imposed upon Communist Russia by Grigory Zinoviev and the Bolsheviks.

The most significant aspect of the film is a documentary enhancement interviews with a number of venerable "witnesses", who may have known Reed, whose recollections of the period help to set the scene, bridge transitions and preserve a touching human perspective of these times. To gain perspective on the lives of Reed and Bryant, Beatty began filming the "witnesses" as early as 1971. Some of them are very well known, others less so. It is also noted, on a side note that this movie was released as as a sympathetic portrait of a well-known American communist (though it does point out Reed's flaws instead of bordering on HistoricalHeroUpgrade) in the very same year that Republican UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan became president.[[note]]Incidentally, the movie was screened at the Reagan White House, with Beatty and Keaton in attendance. Despite their differing political views, Reagan and Beatty were old friends from Reagan's Hollywood days.[[/note]]

The film was released on December 4, 1981 to critical acclaim. Despite its political subject matter and limited promotion (mostly by Beatty himself), the film became the tenth highest grossing picture of 1981, taking in $50,000,000 in the United States.

Beatty won the UsefulNotes/AcademyAward for Best Director for the film. ''Reds'' was also nominated for Best Picture, but lost to ''Film/ChariotsOfFire''. Beatty and Diane Keaton were nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress, but lost to Creator/HenryFonda and Creator/KatharineHepburn in ''On Golden Pond''.

In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its "Ten Top Ten" the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. ''Reds'' was acknowledged as the ninth best film in the [[EpicMovie epic]] genre.


* AbsenceMakesTheHeartGoYonder: The real reason for Louise taking up with Eugene, her EthicalSlut free love talk notwithstanding. She has her affair with O'Neill while Reed is away covering the 1916 Democratic convention. She approaches O'Neill again after Reed goes to Russia only for him to reject her.
* BadBadActing: An example of this with Louise's terrible acting in one of Eugene O'Neill's plays. In general, Diane Keaton, who plays Louise, is the master of this trope.
* CallBack: Early in his career, Reed does a RageQuit, crying out "You don't rewrite what I wrote!" when his editor revises an article Reed wrote about the IWW. Near the end of the movie, Reed says the exact same thing when Zinoviev revises a speech Reed gave in Baku.
* CallForward: Louise tells John that the feds are organizing a "bureau of investigation" to hunt out leftists. This, of course, would become the FBI.
* TheCameo: George Plimpton is in a couple of scenes as a publisher who wants sex with Louise. Creator/GeneHackman has two scenes as Pete Van Wherry, one of Reed's magazine editors.
* ConversationCut: John and Louise are exchanging presents at Christmas. He opens a box to reveal a dog. She laughs and says "Oh God, I swear--", cut to Emma Goldman at a socialist rally saying "--that we love America."
* DaEditor: Pete Van Wherry clashes with Reed. Pete doesn't like his sympathy with the overtly communist IWW.
* ADogNamedDog: Reed and Bryant do in fact have a dog named "Dog", and Louise says they have to come up with a real name. A later scene reveals that they eventually named the dog Jessie.
* EstablishingCharacterMoment: Reed is a guest at a rah-rah patriotic American club in 1914. After a bellicose speech encouraging American involvement in [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarI the Great War]], the speaker turns to Reed and asks him what he thinks the war is about. Reed answers "Profits," and with one word is marked as an iconoclast and a leftist.
* EthicalSlut: Louise Bryant becomes one after Reed turns her on to his free love philosophy. For a time, she becomes kind of fundamentalist about it, and Eugene O'Neill makes fun of her about it during their affair. Both she and Jack have trouble remaining true to their slut-ethics over the course of the film, with their jealousy periodically causing one or the other to break off their relationship.
* ForeignCorrespondent: John Reed, radical left-wing journalist, who goes to Russia to cover UsefulNotes/RedOctober and the Russian Civil War.
* FullCircleRevolution: Hinted at towards the end. "If Bolshevism means the peasants taking the land, the workers taking the factories, then Russia's one place where there is no Bolshevism," says anarchist Emma Goldman. Reed, however, maintains faith in the Bolshevik cause to the end, pointing out that the absence of stable institutions in Russia and the poor quality of education of the peasants would mean that there would need to be centralization by the Revolutionary elite in order to bring any sort of modernisation.
* IncurableCoughOfDeath: Reed starts looking tired and sweaty towards the end, but when he starts coughing, you know he's a goner.
* {{Intermission}}: Once considered necessary for films that topped three hours. In fact, this was one of the last Hollywood films to have an intermission.
* LoveTriangle: A messy one between Reed, Bryant, and O'Neill.
* MoodWhiplash: On a train headed to Russia, Reed and Bryant are entertained by an old revolutionary who's endlessly cracking jokes. Then they stop at a border crossing, and they see horribly maimed Russian soldiers.
* RealPersonCameo: Sort of. Oleg Kerensky is very briefly seen playing his own grandfather, Alexander Kerensky, the leader for a few months of democratic Russia in 1917.
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized: In the argument between Jack Reed and Emma Goldman, this is a DiscussedTrope. Goldman feels the Bolsheviks have become so murderous that they are no longer worth supporting. Reed responds by accusing Goldman of having an unrealistically idealized view of revolution.
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeVilified: The movie does explain very well why many radicals, initially, looked at the Russian Revolution positively. Louise Bryant pointed out that in the Soviet Union, women would be given voting rights which would not yet be a reality in America until 1920. Likewise, Lenin kept his promise to bring Russia out of UsefulNotes/WorldWarI when she noted that President Wilson promised that America would not enter that war.
* StateSec: The government spooks that follow Louise Bryant around. Eventually they descend upon the house with a warrant for Reed's arrest for subversion, only to find that he has already left for Russia.
* TitleDrop: Pete says that the members of the IWW are a bunch of "reds". Later when Reed and some of his fellow commies are sitting in a jail cell, a rather crusty fellow prisoner says "You're a bunch of reds, aren't you?"
* TranslationWithAnAgenda: In order to better motivate a crowd of Muslims, Zinoviev uses this trope to replace Reed's call to class war with a call to jihad.
* WeAreStrugglingTogether: The eternal problem of the left. In one scene Reed and his allies are kicked out of a Socialist Party convention. They assemble in the basement of the convention hall to proclaim a Communist Party for America, only to be confronted by Louis Farina (Paul Sorvino) who has proclaimed an entirely different splinter Communist Party and demands Reed's allegiance. Reed goes to Russia to get his Communist Party declared the official one for the USA, only for the GenreSavvy Bolsheviks to tell him that his party and Farina's party have to merge.