A once-great silent film director, unable to make the transition to the new talkies, lives as a near-hermit in his Hollywood home, making cheap, silent sex films, and suffering in the knowledge of his sexual impotence, and apathetic about the plans to demolish his home to make way for a motorway. His producer and his producer's girlfriend come by to see how he is doing (and to supply heroin to the actress as her payment). The girlfriend stays to watch them filming, and is deeply impressed by his methods. When the actress goes to the bathroom, and dies there of an overdose, the girlfriend takes her place in the film. Then the producer returns... Written by
Steven Pemberton <Steven.Pemberton@cwi.nl>
The picture in the USA was originally rated X but was later re-classified with an NC-17 rating. The film's top-billed star Richard Dreyfuss was heavily involved in the well publicized campaign against the American film censors to get the rating for the film changed from an X to an NC-17. See more »
Sitting at piano, Boy Wonder plays song Moonglow, written in 1934. The movie takes place at least three or four years earlier (characters repeatedly talk about a then-unknown actor named Clark Gable, already a big star by time song was written).
NOTE: "Moonglow" is not explicitly referenced as such, and is virtually identical to 1929's "Sweeter Than Sweet", so this may not be a goof. See more »
The end credits are shown in black-and-white, against a backdrop of a silk cloth. It is also grainier and scratched in spots compared to the rest of the film. It is very reminiscent of the credits of vintage 30's melodramas. See more »
Nearly 30 years later, it still sticks in the mind
I first saw this film alone. The following night I took my friends, and that weekend I named my band after it. In Cambridge in 1977, this film became a small cult. The allusions to silent days were intriguing to a burgeoning film buff, with Clark Gable, that kid from Pathe, forever trying to get through the door, junkie reminiscences of Wally Reid, and many more nods and in-jokes that I would undoubtedly smile at now from knowledge, not ignorance.
The performances were, as I recall, uniformly good, with Dreyfus - whom I had only seen previously in American Graffiti - a revelation. This was also the first big screen role I can remember from Bob Hoskins, and after her small but memorable role in Love and Death, Jessica Harper brought just the right degree of irritating sexiness to Cathy Cake.
Annoyingly, despite the limitations of scale, and the occasional staginess, I don't think John Byrum has ever made a better film!
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