When a Las Vegas performer-turned-snitch named Buddy Israel decides to turn state's evidence and testify against the mob, it seems that a whole lot of people would like to make sure he's no longer breathing.
Struggling private investigator Louis Simo treats his work more as a means to make a living than a want to do right by what few clients he has. Through connections with the investigation firm for which he used to work, Simo is hired by Helen Bessolo to investigate the death of her son, actor George Reeves. Reeves was best known for his title role in Adventures of Superman (1952), a role which he always despised, in part since it typecast him as a "cartoon", despite it bringing him a certain fame. His June 16, 1959 death by a single gunshot wound while in his bedroom in his Los Angeles home was ruled a suicide by the police, the death which occurred when the house was filled with people. Reeves' story is told in part in flashback as Simo, who is trying to make a name for himself with this case, talks to or tries to talk to some of the players involved, most specifically the wife of MGM General Manager E.J. Mannix, Toni Mannix, with whom Reeves was having a relatively open and ...Written by
The film was originally entitled Truth, Justice, and the American Way (after Superman's famous catchphrase). However, DC Comics (which owns the rights to the Superman character) refused to allow that. It also did not allow the Superman "S" insignia to be used in any of the trailers or promotional material of the film, but oddly enough, allowed it to be in the movie. See more »
Simo is beat up easily and hit with a chain. His injuries get better and worse from scene to scene. Most notably, when he finds a cigar and confronts his ex-partner. In that scene outside Chips, he is strong, moves easily, and has no injuries on his face at all. See more »
Its not impossible to be a clever writer of films today. But it is hard if you want to play with the noir genre. I've seen two recently that know what they are doing: "Brick" and "Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang." The notion of noir is so well developed now, it is hard to play with. There's a parallel in Jazz, I think, the other uniquely American invention in popular art. It seems innovation has stopped in Jazz some say it is impossible and matters of style now rule, together with degrees of deviation from the form.
This tries something different and fails tremendously. I would appreciate it if what they attempted were bold and engaging. But it isn't and the most I can say is that it is an uninteresting failure.
What's attempted here is a sort of layered noir. In genuine noir, you have two worlds, the world of the hapless folk we see and the world of fate that jerks them around. The viewers are assumed into that second world.
In this project, the two worlds are both put on screen. One world is the world of chumps, occupied by Reeve, and our mannered noir detective. He's strictly noir, with the required boozing, womanizing, injury-attracting, money chasing qualities.
The other world is the world of movies, their producers and watchers together. Its a vast conspiracy, protected by the police (and all of the government, presumably).
This isn't the same as Billy Wilder's "Sunset Blvd" which puts the world of movies in that first world, subject to the same capricious twists as the aging actress and her new monkey-boy.
No, this is different, but it isn't well worked out. Halfway through we realize that we should have "gotten it" by now, or at least been given a thread to follow to later loose. Instead, there isn't anything developed. Yes, we see a man get sad. Yes, we see a mystery, played Rashomon-like with multiple truths. Yess we see loyalties formed and broken, and a bunch of other narrative fragments thrown in.
But we get nothing we can follow. There are four or five ways to give us an unfollowable narrative that we can follow. Not here. This movie committed suicide before it came to us.
The only nice things I can say are that Diane Lane does her character well, but then she really does worry about looking pretty in Hollywoodland. And there is a nice visual touch in the Sacred Heart cards, that in real life were placed by Ms Mannix after the death.
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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