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A movie directed by Allen Coulter

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Dull, confusing, moves in many directions, none with gusto

  • Mar 26, 2007
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 some otherwise forgettable movie—the full sign said Hollywoodland. Land was removed. The movie Hollywoodland would benefit if it had been shortened like the sign—benefit, but it would still not work.

George Reeves (Ben Affleck), TVs Superman, is dead of a gunshot wound to the head—murder or suicide? Enter, Louis Simo (Adrien Brody), a former policeman turned private investigator. Reeves’s mother hires Simo because she is convinced that George did not kill himself. The tale is then told in alternating chapters between George’s past and Louis’s present as he tries to piece together the story. He does this in a city whose police and bodyguards and fix-it men do everything they can to make sure that the city’s industry, ‘the pictures’ only has a positive image. So Louis faces the regular amount of thugs and wise-guys who try to get him to stop his investigation. This is a mystery story, so if I go much farther, I would give too much away.

Reeves has an affair with the wife, Toni, of the general manager of MGM. Diane Lane plays Toni and is the brightest spot of a lackluster film. Ms. Lane is one of those of her craft that is so comfortable on her end of the camera that she has the ability to immediately relax an audience. It is not through Toni that George gets the Superman role, but he is her kept boy and continues to be so until he decides to give up acting to pursue directing and producing.

The subplots to the film are numerous and tacked on. There is the affair that Reeves has with a woman called Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney); this opens one of several possible storylines that point towards murder over suicide. There is the plot involving Reeves’s mother who is convinced, apparently, that her son did not kill himself (and was an important actor). There are four subplots alone for Mr. Simo: former detective using his connections and the problems this causes; his divorce and strained relationship with his son; the relationship he has with his assistant who is sleeping around; a bad turn of events for a paranoid client who hires Simo to find his wife’s paramour. None of these four subplots mean anything because they are no more than half-hearted attempt to give Simo some back story. If the movie could decide if it focused on Reeves or Simo, then it would not have been as confusing as it was and could have been half an hour shorter—there was much that could be removed and it would not have been any more confusing and at least a bit less of a temporal torture.

The sets, costumes, and props were all top notch though. They did an excellent job of capturing the late 1950s. This alone, however, is not worth the time it takes to watch the movie.

In the final analysis, though, the end (and this is a mystery, so the end is supremely important) is both confusing and unfulfilling. My category for this sort of ending is that the director or cinematographer realize they only have about 30 feet of film left, so they shoot a schmaltzy 25 foot ending hoping the last five feet will carry the credits.

To be entirely clear, I am not giving Hollywoodland one star because, while it as basically dull and very confusing, at least one performance and the set pieces were good enough to pull the film up to the ‘below average’ category. I wouldn’t recommend this.


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November 07, 2010
Shockingly, however, Affleck is pretty good as Reeves.
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
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 . 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. …
review by . February 07, 2007
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 …
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Paul Savage ()
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I name and describe everything and classify most things. If 'it' already had a name, the one I just gave it is better.
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About this movie


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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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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