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Does "Hollywoodland" represent Truth, Justice and the American Way?" - CinemaDave

Sep. 12th, 2006 08:30 pm Does "Hollywoodland" represent Truth, Justice and the American Way?"

Perhaps inspired by the morbid ten year old Jon Benet
Ramsey tragedy, Hollywood seems to be cashing in on
California unsolved deaths. James Ellroy’s
long anticipated "The Black Dahlia" opens soon. Last
week, "Hollywoodland" featured the mystery around
the actor who could bend steel in his bare hands,
change the current of mighty rivers and leap tall
buildings in a single bound, George Reeves. Director
Allen Coulter and screenwriter Paul Bernbaum wisely
does not attempt to solve the mystery of George
Reeves’ death, which was ruled a suicide. They
dynamic duo do present three theories as to what the
fate of the actor could have been, but wisely focuses
on the impact of the death of an American icon,
"Superman" circa 1959.

"Hollywoodland" opens with detectives investigating
the apparent suicide of George Reeves (Ben Affleck).
Enter Private Investigator Louis Simo (Adrien Brody),
a motel 6 divorced resident, with a son who is
traumatized by the demise of the Superman. Making a
living by stringing neurotic clients with low self
esteem, Simo is given a tip that Reeves suicide could
have actually been a murder. Using bribery and other
underhanded methods, Simo examines the body of Reeves
and discovers some markings on the actor’s arm which
could indicate a struggle before the shooting.

Upon investigation and interview, Simo learns of
Reeves' strange relationship with Toni Mannix (Diane
Lane and her husband Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins), the
head of MGM studios. We learn that Reeves had a
fiance Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney), who was in the
house on the night of his death. When Reeves’ mother,
Helen Bessolo (Lois Smith) provides some secret
information about her son, Private Investigator Simo
utilizes the press as an ally. As Simo gets closer to
the truth, he is pressured by studio executives in
black suits to stop his investigation.

While seven minutes too long for its own good,
"Hollywoodland" works as a drama with convincing
performances. Adrien Brody makes Simo a complete
human being with foibles and virtues. After playing
in a string of romantic comedies as the leading lady,
Diane Lane sinks her teeth into a character role in
which she convincingly ages during a relative short
period of time. Along with Diane Lane , Robin Tunney
may be Oscar nominated as the shrewish fiance Leonore
Lemmon, giving both a repugnant and siren like

Despite winning a best actor award from the Venice
Film Festival, critics have been split on Ben
Affleck’s performance as the ill fated George Reeves.
Truthfully, Affleck’s blandness works in his favor and
the performance seems more truthful in reincarnating
George Reeves to the big screen.

"Hollywoodland" does an excellent job presenting
the early days of yesteryear. When Reeves accepts the
role of "Superman," he is told that only ten year
old boys will be watching the man of steel. Instead
“The Adventures of Superman" becomes a family program
in which fathers watch with their sons and talk about
the concepts of Truth, Justice and the American
Way. When Reeves died, two years after the show was
cancelled, the effects on the elementary aged children
are devasting. Yet, it is through "Superman," that
Simo learns to be a better father to his son.

Of note – there is a scene on the "Dailey Planet"
set featuring Clark Kent and Lois Lane . The Lois
Lane in the first season was portrayed by Phyllis
Thaxter. During the first weekend in November, the
original Lois Lane , Noelle Neil, will be visiting
the South Florida Supercon http://www.floridasupercon.com/ which will also feature
Christopher Reeve’s Lois Lane, Margot Kidder. Along
with author Larry Thomas Ward, Noelle Neil will be
autographing her latest biography titled “Truth,
Justice and the American Way ” at the Florida
SuperCon.http://www.supermanhomepage.com/tv/tv.php?topic=cast-crew/noel-neill Ironically, the original title of
"Holywoodland" was supposed to be "Truth, Justice
and the American Way!"

8 comments - Leave a commentPrevious Entry Share Next Entry


Date:September 13th, 2006 11:12 am (UTC)

George Reeves and Hollywoodland

For the past several years since I acquired a computer I have grown fond of visiting online Superman sites. Most of them offer a great deal of information that suggest George Reeves was an unlikely suicide.

At the time of his death Reeves had several substantial acting offers lined up, including a lucrative deal to again play Superman. He was newly engaged to an attractive woman.

In his youth Reeves was an accomplished amateur boxer and had competed at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932. Only three days after his death he was scheduled to be in a televised exhibition match with light heavyweight champion Archie Moore. "Superman vs Archie Moore" was an expected ratings smash.

Not long before Reeves died the brakes of a car he was driving failed. A mechanic found that the brakes had been tampered with. Reeves had several other unusual near fatal car accidents shortly before his death. Reeves had also been receiving death threat phone calls at his unlisted number that he reported to the police.

No suicide note was found and many of his friends said Reeves was too full of life and plans to have committed suicide at that time.

North Star
Date:September 14th, 2006 12:38 am (UTC)

Re: George Reeves and Hollywoodland

Excellent points North Star!
"Hollywoodland" did mention some of the same things that you wrote about.

They did not mention "Superman vs. Archie Moore," but they did mention a wrestling prospect.
Date:September 14th, 2006 01:51 am (UTC)

Re: George Reeves and Hollywoodland

Thanks for pointing out those details, CinemaDave! I have not yet seen the film but I intend to. Your excellent review sums it up nicely.

Some of the real life accounts taken from old news reports that are reproduced online mention a variety of specifics, and of course a filmmaker will paint his own canvas, but the general line is that a suicide has room for reasonable doubt and the film appears to reflect this.

North Star
Date:February 20th, 2007 01:58 am (UTC)

Re: George Reeves and Hollywoodland

George Reeves did NOT compete on the 1932 US Olympic boxing team. Here's who did:

Louis Salica, New York, N.Y. (3rd)
Joseph Lang, Love Lock, N.Y. (4th)
John Hines, San Pedro, Calif.
Nathan Bor, Fall River, Mass. (3rd)
Edward Flynn, Sapulpa, Okla. (1st)
Carmen Barth, Cleveland, Ohio (1st)
John Miller, Alvia, Iowa
Frederick Feary, Stockton, Calif.(3rd)

Source: “U.S. Olympic Boxing Teams: 1932—Los Angeles, California, USA” http://boxing.about.com/library/bl_oly_1932.htm

Date:February 20th, 2007 02:09 am (UTC)

Re: George Reeves and Hollywoodland

Thanks for the information.
Date:February 20th, 2007 02:08 am (UTC)

Re: George Reeves and Hollywoodland

"Hollywoodland" is the film that does not go away, even though Oscar did ignore it. This film will grow in statue through the years.
Date:August 18th, 2008 10:46 am (UTC)


I'm new here, just wanted to say hello and introduce myself.
Date:August 18th, 2008 11:07 am (UTC)

Re: Hello

Welcome aboard!
Where are you from?