“Luck’s just hard work, they say — and I’m willing to work as hard as anyone!”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
… a Yale art school graduate whose entrance into Hollywood is considerably greased by his Ivy League connections. But the character we follow most closely is Black’s Faye Greener:
… an oddly sympathetic peroxide-blonde who strings numerous men along, but with full transparency about her priorities. Her concern for — and exasperation with — her ailing father (Meredith is perfectly cast as a former-clown-turned-salesman)
… help to balance her childish affect and single-minded determination to shift her status from “extra” to “star”. (In the still below, she’s reaching out to herself on-screen during her overly brief appearance in a costume drama.)
Inevitably, as with any cinematic adaptation of a literary work, nuance is lost in translation — but Schlesinger’s vision (assisted by DP Conrad Hall) shines forth, offering a vividly recreated landscape of Hollywood as seen from numerous vantages, including on bustling sets:
… in studio offices:
… in courtyard apartments:
… along the dusty hills of Southern California:
… up by the “Hollywoodland” sign:
… at exclusive stag-film screenings:
… and at Graumann’s Chinese Theater on an even-more-chaotic-than-usual opening night.
Day of the Locust is less concerned with telling the arc of Etherton’s new career than showing us how all-consuming this universe was (and still is) for those who covet — or are even curious about — its offerings. Meanwhile, Sutherland’s hulking giant offers a deliberate counterpart to Hollywood’s headiness: his deeply neurotic, socially awkward accountant lives in Southern California for his health, and simply wants to help those-in-need; his character’s decline — intentionally evocative of Frankenstein‘s monster — is especially tragic given his status as a sacrificial innocent.
Watch for many memorable supporting characters, including androgynous Jackie Haley as the fatally obnoxious “Adore”:
… Billy Barty as Abe Kusich:
… Geraldine Page as “Big Sister”:
… Natalie Schafer (of “Gilligan’s Island” fame) as a cultured madam:
… and William Castle in cameo as a director.
Note: Click here for a Project Gutenberg copy of West’s book, which is well worth a read.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: