An art director in the 1930s falls in love and attempts to make a young woman an actress despite Hollywood who wants nothing to do with her because of her problems with an estranged man and ... Read allAn art director in the 1930s falls in love and attempts to make a young woman an actress despite Hollywood who wants nothing to do with her because of her problems with an estranged man and her alcoholic father.An art director in the 1930s falls in love and attempts to make a young woman an actress despite Hollywood who wants nothing to do with her because of her problems with an estranged man and her alcoholic father.
Set in a Southwestern adobe apartment complex, the San Bernardino Arms, we see an assortment of Hollywood hopefuls, has beens, and want-to-bes as well as some hucksters and con men. The story is viewed through the eyes of Tod Hackett (William Atherton), a talented Yale sketch artist and set designer who actually does get a Hollywood job in his chosen field. Faye Greener (Karen Black) is there as an extra and dreams of making it big someday. She lives with her father, Harry Greener (Burgess Meredith), a washed up vaudevillian clown who goes from neighborhood to neighborhood, selling bottles of elixir, using his old vaudeville routine as a sales pitch.
Adore (Jackie Earle Haley) is the brat child actor with the stereotypical stage mother. Another REALLY obnoxious character is Abe Kusich (Billy Barty), a dwarf bookie who takes advantage of his difference, knowing that no one can really fight back—I've personally known people like this who use their apparent disadvantages to their own obnoxious advantage. (Both Adore and Abe fit into this category. I mean, who can lash out against a child or a dwarf?) Homer Simpson (Donald Sutherland) also belongs to this strange group of Hollywood misfits. He is really the ultimate outsider. He is a strange repressed accountant from the Midwest, who really wants to be loved for who he is. After Harry Greener's death, Faye, uses Homer---for his money and slavish love —as long as his unrequited worship of her remains intact.
Most of the men love Faye and want her as their girlfriend or lover. She almost drives Tod crazy, since he tries to get her to love him, but she says something like 'I don't love you that way.' When he asks her why she would have sex for money, she screams 'That's different!! They are STRANGERS!!!' The asexual Homer is different too: He just loves to be around her and cook for her.
"Big Sister (Geraldine Page)—who could have been based on Aimee Semple McPherson—is the woman evangelist begging for money in exchange for promises of everlasting live, health, and happiness is Hollywood's religion, 'the false, utopian theology California is famous for."
I'm not sure what the symbolism is behind the movie's constant motif of cockfighting. It could represent male sexual competition (cock fighting) or it could be the need for voyeuristic nihilism so prevalent in Hollywood.
The final scene of the movie is very long. (And I think it is way overdone.) It starts with a Hollywood premier of Cecil B. DeMille's The Buccaneer (1938)and ends in chaos, death, and destruction. The movie is mostly filmed through a yellow lens, suggesting 'sunny' Southern California.
- Nov 22, 2016