Friday, October 06, 2006
Hollywoodland - look! up in the sky
Living in Hollywood can make you famous. Dying in Hollywood can make you a legend.
Hollywoodland investigates the mysterious death of George Reeves - literally investigates the death of George Reeve - who became synonymous with playing the 1950's television incarnation of Superman.
The blaring headlines of the 1959 paper November 16, 1959 ? read TV's Superman - out of work, shoots self. The story treats the shooting as a suicide, George Reeves mother thinks otherwise and employs the gumshoe Louis Simo.
It's a murky tale explored through the plodding of down on his luck investigator Adrien Brody. He tries to put the pieces of the story together, trying to make them fit. His imaginings of the events of the night that George Reeves's died in his home postulates murder - shooting - suicide - but what can be proved ? The arc of his investigation parallels the career of George Reeves played with chameleon aplomb by Ben Affleck. Through magic, Ben Affleck's television transformation into the black and white Clark Kent - Superman is perfectly captured.
Diane Lane adds the glamour as Toni Mannix, the wife of powerful movie studio mogul Eddie Mannix who uses Reeves as her playtoy. "You were the most beautiful girl in the room," and yes, Reeves thought he could use her to get ahead. His career stuck playing in lesser movies and serials, the equivalent of movie soap operas. In 1949 he was the lead in The Adventures of Sir Galahad - 10 years previous he was in Gone with the Wind. But by the time of Superman, it was as good as it would get for him.
The ploy of using Adrien Brody as the PI to investigate the murder - and giving him a backstory of his own unfortunately adds to the muddle of Hollywoodland - but does not detract from the fine performances within.