A detective examines the mysterious death of George Reeves, TV's Superman.
Release Year: 2006
Rating: 6.6/10 (20,527 voted)
Critic's Score: 62/100
Stars: Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck, Diane Lane
Storyline Struggling private investigator Louis Simo treats his work more as a means to make a living than a want to do right by what few clients he has. Through connections with the investigation firm for which he used to work, Simo is hired by Helen Bessolo to investigate the death of her son, actor
Cast: Adrien Brody
Carol Van Ronkel
(as Eric Kolder)
Everyone has secrets. Everyone has motives.
Release Date: 8 September 2006
Filming Locations: City Hall - 200 N. Spring Street, Downtown, Los Angeles, California, USA
Opening Weekend: $5,926,177
(10 September 2006)
(22 October 2006)
Did You Know?
The photo of the dead woman whose demise Louis Simo accuses E.J. Mannix of complicity in is actually the death-scene photo of actress Carole Landis.
In the scene where Simo buys the newspaper from the stand, there is a red Corvette parked in front of it carrying chrome 5-spoke Cragar rims. The earliest street rim Cragar produced that looked like this, the Cragar S/S, was not released to the public until 1964.
Quotes: Louis Simo:
[about the bullet holes in George Reeves' floor]
Since when do suicides miss twice and start over?
Excellent drama, compelling, and about as truthful as drama can be.
As someone who has spent a number of years preparing the definitive
biography of actor George Reeves, I approached this film with great
trepidation. I had previously turned down several offers for the film
rights to my own book because I felt it unlikely that those projects
would result in a film truthful to the essence of the man I had come to
know so well. All I can say is that the makers of "Hollywoodland" came
as close as is humanly possible in the real world of movie-making to
achieving exactly what I would have hoped for -- an examination of
George Reeves's life and death that is true to the times he lived in,
true to the kind of man I found him to be, and as true as possible to
the most likely scenarios that have been projected to explain his
death. While this is not a biography nor a documentary, and while
adhering to each and every fact of Reeves's life would have resulted in
a film exactly as long as his life, the artists here have done a
powerful and affecting job of telling Reeves's story, and have framed
it in a fictional setting that illuminates rather than obscures the
In any event, in any life, there is what happened and then there is the
truth, and the two may not always equally serve our understanding of
the event or life in question. It is true that "Hollywoodland" takes
occasional liberties with specific facts, in no less way than
Shakespeare took liberties with the real life facts of Hamlet or Julius
Caesar. But as Alfred Hitchcock said, drama is life with the dull bits
left out. What matters is not whether a costume is the right shade of
blue or whether there's really a gas station at the intersection of
Sunset and Benedict Canyon. What matters is whether the essence of a
true story has been faithfully told. And "Hollywoodland" does a superb
job of portraying that essence, who George Reeves was, what his world
was like, and what impact he had on those who knew him and those who
only knew of him. Allen Coulter, the director, has done a splendid job
capturing the era and has paid enormous attention both to period detail
and to the details of the lives of the real-life characters. Only
Reeves's fans (and not even many of them) will notice the pinkie ring
on Ben Affleck's finger or the widow's peak in his hairline or the
exotic Alvis auto he owns, yet these are all completely authentic to
the actual Reeves. More importantly, Coulter has done an exemplary job
of making Reeves into a human being, one whose dreams we ache for
almost as much as he does in the story.
Adrien Brody, as the fictional detective whose story provides the
audience a window into Reeves's life, is solid and manages to bring a
little charisma to the comparative low-life he plays. Diane Lane is
superb as Reeves's lover, the sexually hungry but aging Toni Mannix.
And Ben Affleck does certainly his best dramatic work ever as George
Reeves. In makeup, and with his own matching cleft chin, Affleck
sometimes looks astonishing like the real Reeves. But more importantly,
he captures the haunted quality of the actor on a treadmill to
oblivion, as well as the immense charm for which the real Reeves is
widely remembered in Hollywood. Although the script does not give any
of the actors the kind of deeply meaty scenes that win Oscars, some of
the hardest work to do is for an actor to excel in scenes that don't
require fireworks. Affleck in particular does so in this film, and I
think it does him credit. He is reported to have researched the role
intensely, and it shows. The performances of Larry Cedar, Bob Hoskins,
and Lois Smith also stand out especially distinctively.
The cinematography is stunning, with the frequent flashbacks clearly
distinguishable from the "present day" scenes without the distinction
being glaring or even obvious. And the musical score is elegant and
very evocative of the time.
It is perhaps inevitable that die-hard Superman fans, for whom George
Reeves is not so much a human being as he is a sort of superhero
himself, will find things to carp and cavil about in this film. As a
researcher with over thirty years of in-depth study of Reeves's life, I
can split hairs over details pretty easily myself. And I suspect, too,
that some of the complaints will be about the depiction of things that
are actually true, but which don't show Reeves in a worshipful light.
All I can say is that I have spent my adult life studying, admiring,
and trying to understand the man whose story this film tells, and I
think George Reeves would be touched and proud of the care these
filmmakers have taken. I highly recommend "Hollywoodland."