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Hollywoodland

A movie directed by Allen Coulter

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'Nobody ever asks to be happy later.'

  • Feb 7, 2007
  • by
Rating:
+1
HOLLYWOODLAND is a very long (two hours plus) film noir that is actually a film khaki: the droning muted brown to ochre tones of the film itself match the story well - and that is not necessarily a compliment. The 'unresolved' death of B-grade actor George Reeves who was disconsolate at having his crowning achievement be the Superman role (my, how times have changed!) is the subject of this story as written by Paul Bernbaum (best known for his ongoing 'Halloweentown' series) and directed by Allen Coulter whose credentials as a TV director are impressive. With a cast of top-notch actors this should have been a surefire hit, but somehow being unable to care about any of the characters in the film makes it leaden.

Though the film takes place in 1959 (the death by suicide vs possible homicide) the action spreads into the early 50s as Reeves (Ben Affleck) stumbles up the rickety Hollywood ladder of minor roles, alcohol and carousing until he meets aging Toni Mannix (Diane Lane) whose marriage of convenience to super producer Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins) leads to his attaining the role of Superman and the accompanying position of being Toni's lover. The story weaves rather aimlessly through Reeves' checkered life with paramour Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney) and influences from well-meaning supporters. But while we watch this rather tepid Hollywood wannabe climb we are escorted by the investigation of his death by one Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) who has been hired by Reeves' mother Helen Bessolo (the always fine Lois Smith) to prove that her 'brilliant actor' son was murdered.

The suicide death of Reeves is an open and shut case with the LAPD until Simo tinkers with the evidence, all the while ignoring his rather smarmy career as a private investigation, a distraction which leads to its own dire consequences. Simo also encounters problems with his ex-wife Laurie (Molly Parker) and his young son disillusioned that Superman would kill himself. The facts of Reeves' life parallel with the facts of Simo's life and the manner in which Coulter works with this data places past with present, Reeves with Simo in tightly connected frames so that we never know whose is coming into the next dark space: it becomes a bit tedious and confusing, but in the end it is all bleak and disjointed.

The actors try hard to salvage this film and there are some good performances here. But for this viewer it is just a long khaki song that never reaches the chorus. Grady Harp, February 07

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More Hollywoodland (2006 movie) reviews
review by . March 05, 2009
I really enjoyed this well-acted and directed movie that brought back a lot of memories of earlier times. We see a frustrated George Reeves who tried to give an outward cheery demeanor to his adoring public (just about every kid in America) while being prevented from doing what he wants to do (star in mainstream films and direct). Some of the problems were related to being typecast (we see the audience laughing at him when he appears in From Here to Eternity) though I believe if you are good you …
review by . February 11, 2009
DVD
Step back into the 50s with "Hollywoodland," a gritty film noir that delves into the death of George Reeves, star of TV's Adventures of Superman. Down-on-his-luck private eye Louie Sima (Adrien Brody) is hired by Reeves' mother who thinks it was murder, even though the police have labeled it a suicide. Louie's investigation alternates with flashbacks showing Reeves (Ben Affleck) from his early days as a struggling actor, his reluctant TV stardom, and his last days as a typecast has-been. Among Louie's …
review by . November 01, 2008
The story of a troubled man   Who longed to reach great heights   He dreamed of those big movie roles   But ended up in tights     The costume never gave him joy   He didn't have a clue   That millions of small kids were stuck   To TV screens like glue     Then one day, as the movie goes   Fear gripped the man of steel   When one young fan confronted him   With bullets …
review by . July 27, 2008
I've seen , as a child, one or two ancient reruns of the SUPERMAN TV series starring George Reeves. Even in the late `60s, this show looked cheap and uninteresting. Yet for a couple of seasons, it made hunky actor Reeves famous through the nation. It also resulted in typecasting that prevented him from getting any other roles and eventually led him down a path of heavy drinking and other destructive behavior...culminating in his suicide. Simple enough.    But HOLLYWOODLAND informed …
review by . September 14, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Was it murder or suicide? The death of George Reeves, television's original "Superman", has fascinated the public since 1959. HOLLYWOODLAND attempts to solve this riddle, and delivers a riveting film experience that will be relished by fans of classic movies.    George Reeves (played brilliantly by Ben Affleck) is a small-time Hollywood actor, bumming around various nightspots when he attracts the attention of Toni (Diane Lane), the wife of M-G-M studio executive Eddie E.J. Mannix …
review by . March 26, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Diane Lane, set pieces      Cons: Multiple pointless subplots and pretty much everything but the 1950s detail and Ms. Lane      The Bottom Line: Very dull. Very confusing. This is 2 hours you can spend doing anything else and have a better time.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.      The Hollywood sign was never supposed to last; it was just a set piece for …
review by . June 27, 2007
I really enjoyed this well-acted and directed movie that brought back a lot of memories of earlier times. We see a frustrated George Reeves who tried to give an outward cheery demeanor to his adoring public (just about every kid in America) while being prevented from doing what he wants to do (star in mainstream films and direct). Some of the problems were related to being typecast (we see the audience laughing at him when he appears in From Here to Eternity) though I believe if you are good you …
review by . February 07, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Combining the elements of an interesting biography with a murder mystery, `Hollywoodland' could have easily been a bungled effort. We are transported to the naivete' of the 1950's culture like `Good Night and Good Luck' and `Quiz Show' without leaving any clues uncovered. Exploring the death of TV Superman actor, George Reeves (Ben Affleck), we get more of a film that investigates like `JFK' but feels like `Reversal of Fortune'. Haunting, yet playful, `Hollywoodland' provides absorbing entertainment. …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #97
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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About this movie

Wiki


The fact-based mystery ofHollywoodlandtakes place in 1959, when the death ofAdventures of SupermanTV star George Reeves cast a pall over the waning days of golden-age Hollywood. As written by Paul Bernbaum, this intriguing whodunit effectively evokes the tainted atmosphere that surrounded Reeves' death (officially ruled a suicide but never conclusively solved), and speculates on circumstances to suggest that Reeves may have been murdered. In combining the melancholy course of Reeves' career with the investigation of a down-and-out private detective into the possible causes of Reeves' death, the film evolves into an engrossing study of parallels between lives on either side of the Hollywood dream. Building upon a distinguished career in TV including episodes of HBO'sThe Sopranos,RomeandSix Feet Under, director Allen Coulter finds a satisfying balance between the tragic overtones of the Reeves case and the time-honored elements of the gumshoe genre, with Adrien Brody doing fine work as private eye Louis Simo, a fictional composite character who is our conduit to the desperate yearnings of Reeves' final months.

In a critically acclaimed performance, Ben Affleck plays Reeves in moody flashbacks, caught between Superman stardom and financial dependence on his lover Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), the somewhat predatory wife of Hollywood "fixer" and MGM honcho Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins), whose mob connections suggest foul play as Simo's investigation ...

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Details

Director: Allen Coulter
Genre: Drama
Release Date: September 8, 2006
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: February 6, 2007
Runtime: 2hrs 6min
Studio: Universal Studios
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