126 Min | Biography – Crime – Drama | November 2006
IMDB Rating: 6.6
Director: Allen Coulter
Starring: Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck, Diane Lane
Hollywoodland Review: “Hollywoodland” has probably brought George Reeves more fame and celebrity than even he ever dreamed of – imagine being the subject of a feature film when you were most famous for being the TV Superman. Had he lived into his seventies, he might have been around for the renaissance of the old shows and stars due to the nostalgia of the maturing baby boomers. But he’d probably rather have it this way. Unfortunately, in the ’50s, once you were associated with a television role, it was a death knell. When Jack Larson went into an audition after the series, the director said to the others in the room: “Please don’t embarrass this man. The actors today are more fortunate as the business has changed. It would be a steep upward climb if Reeves was to shake that Superman image. At the time of his death, he was forming his own production company and planned to go to New York. He also wanted to direct.
“Hollywoodland” stars Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, Adrien Brody, Robin Tunney, Bob Hoskins and Lois Smith. It’s the story of slimy detective Louis Simo (Brody) – a man who sells info to Confidential magazine and takes low-rent clients – and his investigation of George Reeves’ death, considered a suicide. During a small gathering in his home, Reeves went upstairs to his bedroom and allegedly shot himself. But many people believe he was murdered. Simo plays out different scenarios in his head with different suspects as he searches for evidence and motives. There were several people in Reeves’ life who had motives: Reeves’ long-time girlfriend Toni Mannix, wife of studio exec Eddie Mannix, a man with an unsavory past known by MGM as “The Fixer”, Mannix himself, who was suspected of being involved in the death of Jean Harlow’s husband Paul Bern and later on of faking a car accident in which Toni was killed, and Leonore Lemmon, George’s young girlfriend toward the end of his life, who expected to marry George.
Hollywoodland is a beautifully produced film with some marvelous performances, particularly from Diane Lane, Bob Hoskins, and Ben Affleck. The scenes filming “The Adventures of Superman” are fantastic. “Hollywoodland” captures the reality of making a television show back then and evokes the atmosphere of Hollywood in the ’50s beautifully. However, it moved slowly, and there was too much of Brody’s problems and too little of George’s relationships. While it was an interesting film and very worthwhile, it just didn’t hang together as one would have hoped. Larson was very, very impressed by Ben Affleck’s intelligence and personality and thought all of the acting was top-notch. One thing he was sure of – Reeves never had any intention of marrying Leonore Lemmon. “George lived big,” Larson said, “but it was Toni’s money.” He adds, “No one wants to listen to me, he committed suicide.”