Felix Farmer (Richard Mulligan) is an extremely successful Hollywood producer, whose movies for Capitol Pictures have never lost money, until now, with his latest, most expensive movie to date, "Night Wind", ending up being a major flop. The movie, starring his popular Academy Award winning actress wife, Sally Miles (Dame Julie Andrews), who has a G-rated screen image, almost bankrupts the studio. As such, the studio executives turn on Felix, who want to take over creative control of the movie and re-edit it to lessen the damage. It also turns Felix suicidal, his mental state, which in turn, leads to Sally leaving him and taking their two children with her. As Felix tries and tries again unsuccessfully to kill himself, he finally stumbles upon an idea which gets him out of his depression. He plans to use his and Sally's money to purchase the movie back from the studio, and re-imagine it by adding a few new scenes, to drastically altar it from the G-rated fantasy movie it is, to an ...Written by
Final theatrical movie of William Holden (Tim Culley). Shortly after completing this movie, he slipped and fell in his living room, cutting his head open, and bled to death. He had been drinking heavily. See more »
After Babs (Rosanna Arquette) goes out onto Felix's deck to sunbath, her character disappears from the film for a whole 30 minutes before suddenly reappearing by Lila's side to hitchhike back into town. See more »
This is a Hollywood movie about Hollywood that was ahead of its time twenty years ago. For people who read their movie reviews from this site, it gives a nice behind-the-scenes twist to what it takes to get what you want in the motion picture business. There are many who felt it was too over-the-top when first released, but as the years go by, it becomes more and more a reflection of how real life is in the dream factory. Back in 1981, there was much less interest among the non-glitterati for what happened to get films made. With the advent of more and more movie magazines trying to dig up dirt on the cogs that turn to keep Tinseltown running, a housewife in Oklahoma can now know the grosses of the latest blockbuster and who stands to gain from them. All this can be gleaned while waiting to check-out at the grocery just by reading the headlines.
The studio owners and their investors are represented well in SOB. From the lowliest security guard to the producers, actors, agents, directors, writers, score composers, costumers and anyone else who is looking to improve their status in the movie biz. Everyone here has an angle, just trying to get through the film they are currently working on, making deals, selling out and generally living day to day and jumping from bedroom to bedroom in an attempt to hold on to what they think is happiness and success. The empty shell of reality is a theme we see throughout this Blake Edwards masterpiece.
The running story behind the main plot concerns an actor, past his marketable prime, who collapses while jogging on a Malibu beach. The callousness of the residents of this community is played for laughs but it is tinged with a knowing wink that this is what becomes of those former stars who have nothing more to give their public. A forgotten actor lay dead in the sand for days while hundreds of people walk by, enjoying the sun, oblivious to this shell of an old man who was once a well-known talent, but is now no longer one of the beautiful people. Yet on this very beach in a later scene, Felix Farmer, the director who is the center of the story tries to kill himself and ends up driving his Cadillac into the Pacific Ocean. Because of the grand spectacle of this possible death, the masses come to the rescue and save him. A quiet humble passing is contrasted with rousing flamboyant suicide attempt and who gets noticed?
The whole movie concerns a very serious frame of reference but the characters surrounding the situation are not playing it straight; they are silly and exasperated. This same plot could have easily been a humorless drama with almost an identical script. A movie costing $30 million, already a pittance by today's standards, flops at the box office and the major players try to turn it to their advantage as best they can. Everyone involved has an axe to grind and the motion picture in question almost becomes a character itself. It prompts greed, jealousy, lust, back-stabbing and even death. It is an evil thing which can engulf those who possess it, as it keeps getting bigger, more expensive and further out of control.
There are some really nasty people here and they do terrible things without conscience. Some do them to make money and fame; others do them for art's sake. But I can't think of a single character who is completely upstanding and righteous, despite their redeemable qualities. The ones we think are heroic and good are just less terrible in comparison with the others. Really thinking about what is being said in this story can make your skin crawl. If it wasn't played for humor the result may have been too horrifying to create, let alone watch.
I don't want to give the impression that I disliked this film. It is right on target. But I have seen it many times and with each viewing, another layer of its veneer slips off and I see the meaning behind the actions and words as presented. If you're really into the goings-on in today's Hollywood, take a look at its past in S.O.B. and maybe you'll think a little bit about what's happening on those sound stages and in those executive meetings behind closed doors. Today, it could have only gotten exponentially worse.
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