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The Day of the Locust (1975)

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.

Director:

John Schlesinger

Writers:

Nathanael West (novel), Waldo Salt (screenplay)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Donald Sutherland ... Homer Simpson
Karen Black ... Faye Greener
Burgess Meredith ... Harry Greener
William Atherton ... Tod Hackett
Geraldine Page ... Big Sister
Richard Dysart ... Claude Estee
Bo Hopkins ... Earle Shoop
Pepe Serna ... Miguel
Lelia Goldoni ... Mary Dove
Billy Barty ... Abe Kusich
Jackie Earle Haley ... Adore (as Jackie Haley)
Gloria LeRoy Gloria LeRoy ... Mrs. Loomis (as Gloria Le Roy)
Jane Hoffman Jane Hoffman ... Mrs. Odlesh
Norman Leavitt ... Mr. Odlesh (as Norm Leavitt)
Madge Kennedy ... Mrs. Johnson
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Storyline

Life's flotsam and jetsam turn up at late 1930's Hollywoodland's door, once more, in this insightful tale of wannabes and desperadoes. Tod Hackett, artist, has inspirations to become noticed until he meets Faye Greener, blonde bombshell, and is immediately smitten. She has other ideas. She has Homer Simpson, victim, in her sights and cruelty and loneliness takes new meaning as all three are slowly sucked into the Hollywood system of sycophants, diggers and parasites, sucking the life from others as the life, and soul, is slowly sucked from them. Written by Cinema_Fan

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Hollywood in the Golden Age See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 June 1975 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Como plaga de langosta See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$17,793,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Geraldine Page replaced Betty Field (who died shortly before filming began) in the role of Big Sister. See more »

Goofs

The film opens at a sightseeing/tourist spot and parking area at the foot of the "H" in the Hollywoodland sign. No such facility has ever existed as that part of the hill is too steep for road construction. The real road passes behind the sign and above it. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Mrs. Odlesh: It isn't as splashy as some other places, but we pride ourselves on being a little classier.
Tod Hackett: [referring to a large crack in the plaster wall] Hmmm, the crack's real.
Mrs. Odlesh: Oh yes. We call this our earthquake cottage. Mrs. Porter had occupancy then. During the big one in '33. Property damage ran into the millions.
Tod Hackett: Will you fix it if I stayed for a while?
Mrs. Odlesh: Oh no! No! This is our showplace. Mrs. Porter wouldn't let us touch that wall. She worked that sampler herself to cover over the hole. ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

References The Buccaneer (1938) See more »

Soundtracks

DANCING ON A DIME
Music by Burton Lane
Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Recorded by Gray Gordon and His Tic Toc Rhythm
Courtesy of RCA Records
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User Reviews

 
A Plague Descends
24 January 2009 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

It took over 35 years and the collapse of the big studio system before anyone in Hollywood, in this case Paramount, brought Nathanael West's novel The Day Of The Locust to the big screen. That climax at a Hollywood premiere is certainly not something the studios would want to show the public as a typical event.

The book is based on West's experiences while writing B pictures in Hollywood during the Thirties and some of the characters he knew. His main protagonist is William Atherton, an aspiring artist who is making a living doing set designs. That's one competitive business and he's got to go over his immediate supervisor John Hillerman's head to get his work noticed by producer Richard Dysart. Like the rest of West's characters, he's sacrificed pride a long time ago. It's his eyes that we see the other characters through.

But he's a paragon of virtue compared to starlet Karen Black who will do anything and anybody to advance her career. Atherton would love to get something going with her, but he's mindful of how amoral she's become. Her only real attachment is to her father, an ex-vaudevillian and now door to door salesman, Burgess Meredith. Even trying to do his shtick with sales doesn't gain him clients.

But the saddest one in the lot and the fellow with the best performance is Donald Sutherland who is an outsider to the film people, a businessman named Homer Simpson who Black uses and abuses. Sutherland's performance is not too different from the hapless cartoon character. Imagine the cartoon Homer Simpson dealing with real life heartbreak and you've got Sutherland's character. The line between tragedy and comedy can be a very thin one.

Geraldine Page has a brief role as an Aimee Semple McPherson like evangelist, shamelessly bilking the Depression's downtrodden. She's great in the part as is Jackie Earle Haley, a really rotten child star of whom I'd love to know who West's model was.

The Day Of The Locust was directed by John Schlesinger who got an Oscar for The Midnight Cowboy. Like that film, The Day Of The Locust deals with some fringe people just trying to get by. Burgess Meredith got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor and the film also got a nomination for Costume Design.

Before Newton Minow referred to television as a vast wasteland. I think that's what Nathanael West had in mind in writing about his experiences in the movie capital. I'd recommend seeing the film to see how well Schlesinger put West's vision across.


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