CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

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 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. Ironically, the original title of
"Holywoodland" was supposed to be "Truth, Justice
and the American Way!"
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