Welcome to L.A. (1977)

“I’ve just been to a movie and I was the only person there. I love Greta Garbo.”

Synopsis:
While visiting his millionaire father (Denver Pyle) in Los Angeles, a songwriter (Keith Carradine) sleeps or flirts with numerous women, including a lonely real estate agent (Sally Kellerman), an unhappy housewife (Geraldine Chaplin), a photographer (Lauren Hutton), and a housekeeper (Sissy Spacek).

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
I disagree with Peary that “this poor man’s Nashville falls flat on all accounts”. These L.A. folks may not be especially appealing (indeed, as Peary notes, many are either “depressed, frustrated, [and/or] obnoxious”), but their travails are interesting to watch for two hours, especially given that the tightly woven storyline switches so frequently we never have a chance to tire of any given subplot. The acting is uniformly excellent, and it’s fun to see so many great names (Spacek, Keitel, Carradine, Hutton, Chaplin, Kellerman, etc.) together in one film. According to IMDb, opinions seem to be widely split on this movie — people either love it or hate it; and while I’m not usually a fan of Altman-esque ensemble films (he produced this one), I happen to fall into the former category this time around.

Redeeming Qualities:

  • The haunting title song, which stayed in my mind for days afterwards
  • Sissy Spacek as a quirky maid who likes to vacuum topless
    Sissy Spacek
  • Geraldine Chaplin’s melancholic, Camille-loving housewife
    Chaplin
  • Harvey Keitel as Chaplin’s vest-clad husband


Must See?

No, but it’s recommended as an interesting ensemble piece.

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One Response to “Welcome to L.A. (1977)”

  1. Not a must.

    ‘fraid I’m going to have to second Peary’s opinion (as quoted). This is one that I just wanted to be over. Hadn’t seen it since its release (recall not liking it then) – and a revisit didn’t make me feel ‘welcome’ at all.

    Alan Rudolph is one of the most disappointing directors of his generation. He wrote/directed one knocked-out-of-the-park cult classic – ‘Choose Me’ – and helmed but did not write one compelling commercial mystery – ‘Mortal Thoughts’ (which boasts, it seems, Demi Moore’s only convincing screen performance). Everything else Rudolph has served up has, more or less, been an irritation, to say the least.

    ‘Welcome…’ actually reads like a meandering early draft of ‘Choose Me’. The main difference is that, in the former, the focus is on a city’s effect (therefore the title, and the film’s opening line: “People deceive themselves here.”) and, in the latter, Rudolph has sharpened his previous mosaic by being less superficial about its human element. Yes, the cast of ‘Welcome’ is an impressive one – but sadly, and unlike the layered characters in ‘Choose Me’, no one is given much to work with except garden-variety neurosis. Motivation remains heavily unclear and all-too-soon there’s nothing to care about.

    It’s true that the title song is haunting – the rest of the score, though, is tedious. And endless.

    I will say this much: the production design is fetchingly color-coordinated – and Keitel is rather tasty as a dirty blond.

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