Hollywoodland 2006 drama mystery
I am easily drawn to movies that are set in the 1950’s because I remember those early days of my childhood very clearly. Back in the 50’s, Clark Kent was a household name, and everyone knew the Superman intro by heart, “Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s Superman”. I never knew that the original Superman actor, George Reeves, committed suicide (according to official reports by LAPD), until I came across this movie. The protagonist in the movie is a struggling private detective, Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) who investigates the death of Reeves as a “whodunit” at the urging of Reeves’ mother, who rejects suicide as cause of death of her son. Simo is smart enough to know he is soon in way over his head with the investigation. He plugs along trying to build a homicide case.
Pros - This is a beautifully produced film with some Oscar worthy performances, particularly from the lead actors; Diane Lane, and Ben Affleck. Affleck's resemblance to Reeves in some scenes is astonishing - particularly as Clark Kent! Affleck even had Reeves' vocal rhythm. Ben certainly does his best dramatic acting since his glory days in 1997, and this performance probably saved him from “winning” Razzie’s worst actor of 2000’s decade (Eddie Murphy “won” with his unbelievable string of turkeys.) As Toni Mannix, Diane Lane is mesmerizing, sexy, strong, and possessive of George, first as a gorgeous vamp and then as the flinty and scorned older woman. Ten years George's senior, Toni understands that she's not getting any younger and quips to George, "I have another seven good years, then my ass drops like a duffel bag."
Bob Hoskins is great as the menacing, tough guy Eddie Mannix, an MGM studio executive. Best Eddie scene – the awkward double date with Eddie and his Japanese mail order mistress, and his wife, Toni, on a date with Reeves. They are at a fancy restaurant where Toni pops a request for Eddie to buy a small Hollywood bungalow. Eddie knows that she wants to set up her new Hollywood pretty boy in the new house. Eddie shrugs and says, “Ok, real estate is always a good investment.” When Reeves tries to engage the Japanese girl in conversation, Eddie screams at Reeves, “Don’t talk to her. She doesn’t speak English!” LOL for true love.
Like the dinner date scene, the best scenes in the film are told in flashback of George Reeve’s life in Hollywood. The scenes filming "The Adventures of Superman" are fantastic, and I for one wanted to see more. "Hollywoodland" captures the reality of making a television show back then and evokes the atmosphere of Hollywood in the '50s beautifully.
Cons - Unfortunately the film is flawed; there was too much diversion into Louis Simo’s personal problems that have little to nothing to do with investigating the George Reeves suicide-or-murder mystery. Simo’s troubles were all very commonplace and boring. Who cares, anyway?
I recently rewatched this forgotten movie with my finger poised on the fast-forward button. I skimmed thru scenes with Simo’s ex-wife and kid. I never missed a single item as related to storyline and plot, and made Reeves/Affleck more the center of the story, so I got a better understanding of Reeves’s character and enjoyed my “self-edited” version much better than the original (poorly edited) studio version.
Written by Ben Clark. Copyright 2016-2023. All rights reserved.