A studio script screener gets on the bad side of a writer by not accepting his script. The writer is sending him threatening postcards. The screener tries to identify the writer in order to pay him off so he'll be left alone, and then in a case of mistaken identity gone awry, he accidentally gives the writer solid ammunition for blackmail. This plot is written on a backdrop of sleazy Hollywood deals and several subplots involving the politics of the industry. Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
Classic referred to by journalists, reviewers...has entered the lexicon
Robert Altman performed a great service to us movie fans with this movie. We are able to see the brutish way the studios treat their writers....and don't find it difficult to believe that some writer would want to murder the producer.
The many homages paid to other movies is great: the execution scene from "I want to Live" is replayed, and Bruce Willis jumping in the midst of the cyanide fumes to rescue the damsel in distress makes the contrast with the Graham movie even more poignant (especially if you believe she was innocent). Watching the various emotions play across Tim Robbins face makes you understand what a great actor he is.
The convoluted plot makes the movie more interesting, even as we see a Palm Springs lovers' rendezvous where some lovers swim in the nude in front of others dancing. You don't know what's true and what's not, even when the producer's ex-girlfriend is left sobbing on the steps. It seems too melodramatic for reality, but melodrama is what these people are all about!!!!! Altman's favorite trick of having everybody talk over each other is, while realistic, disconcerting. I still wish I could have heard what Burt Reynolds was saying, nothing complimentary, when Robbins walked up to him at the restaurant. Watching the writers become sycophants, prostituting their 'art' just to get the movie made rang QUITE true. He backs down on both 'no stars' and 'no Hollywood ending'. The only one with morals involved in the movie business gets fired, of course.
One of the movies you need to have on your shelf. Now I've got to go back and watch for Robbins' many references to different brands of water, pointed out by the NYTimes just today.
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