Tuesday, 20 May 2008


I wasn’t familiar with the real life story behind the movie, so I was able to watch Hollywoodland without the complication of measuring the fiction against established facts. This didn’t spoil my enjoyment in the slightest – it’s a good film, with some first rate acting.

The story concerns the mysterious death of George Reeves, who played Superman on television with great success, but who was never able to build upon that achievement, although he did have a small part in From Here to Eternity. Reeves had a mistress, Toni Mannix, an older woman who was married to an MGM mogul, who spoiled him rotten. However, eventually he tired of her and found a girlfriend of his own generation. When he was found shot, the preferred theory was that he committed suicide. But there are other possibilities, with fingers pointing at Toni, at her husband, and at the new lover.

The film introduces a fictional private eye called Simo, played excellently by Adrian Brody. His investigation is inter-cut with the story of Reeves (Ben Affleck.) Mr and Mrs Mannix are superbly portrayed by Diane Lane and Bob Hoskins. When Hoskins starred in the brilliant The Long Good Friday, he showed contempt (unwisely) for a couple of American Mafiosi. Here, in an almost equally strong, if less central, role, he is highly convincing as a Hollywood boss with gangster world connections.

The film is a cut above many thrillers. The focus on the private eye’s private life is appealing – the characters matter rather more than in so many movies of this kind. And even though Simo didn’t exist in real life, by the time the credits roll, we know him at least as well as we know George and Toni, who did.

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