Hollywoodland,
Director: Allen Coulter

Adrien Brody (Louis Simo); Ben Affleck (George Reeves); Diane Lane (Toni Mannix); Bob Hoskins (Eddie Mannix); Robin Tunney (Leonore Lemmon); Lois Smith (Helen Bessolo; Molly Parker (Laurie Simo); Zach Mills (Evan Simo); Joe Spano (Howard Stickling); and Kathleen Robertson (Carol Van Ronkel).

Actor George Reeve's rise to stardom in Tinsel Town was far from occuring ‘faster than a speeding bullet' but the actor managed to turn a small part in Gone With The Wind (as one of the red-headed Tarleton Twins fawning over Scarlett O'Hara) into more than 15 minutes of fame as television's Superman. 2006's noirish mystery-drama, Hollywoodland, explores the life of George Reeves beginning with his improbable death at the age of 45. While not quite a bio-pic, Hollywoodland fills in some of the gaps in Reeves' career while contrasting the star's personal life with that of the film's fictional detective, LouisSimo (Adrien Brody).

Struggling to rebuild his life after a failed marriage, Louis Simo alternates his time between trying to reconnect with his ex-wife and young son who live in San Fernando Valley suburbia and the gumshoe's half-hearted effort to re-invent himself as a headline-grabbing private investigator in Hollywood. It's clear that Simo isn't achieving at either of his goals.

Simo lost his office when he couldn't muster the rent and has moved his detective agency into a seedy motel room. He spends as much time on sexual trysts with a too-young ‘secretary' as he does snapping photos of a crazed client's wife who may, or may not, be cheating on her husband.

Looking to find his big break and make a name for himself, Simo latches on to investigating the mysterious suicide of Superman. Has to be a headline and some positive press in that case, doesn't there?

George Reeves is played by Ben Affleck who gives a surprisingly good performance as the Man of Steel. With the help of some prosthetics and a few extra pounds, Affleck even resembles Reeves more than a little as we watch the character spiral from ambitious young actor to cold corpse in a Hollywood morgue.

Detective Simo manipulates Reeve's grieving mother into letting him investigate her son's death. Helen Bessalo cannot believe that her son George would ever kill himself and hints that she thinks he might have been murdered. Reeve's mother, isn't all sweetness and light, but the sleazy Simo milks her for every inch of headline he can pull. Simo's not above any smarmy scam even to the point of wheeling Reeves' mother to the blood splattered crime scene (although she had no need for a wheelchair) while the gang of reporters that he's called to cover his stunt snap away like today's paparazzi chasing down Britney Spears.

As the film shifts between Reeves' past to Simo's present day struggles, the comparisons between the dead actor and the struggling detective increase. Simo seems to channel Reeves' angst at being a has-been TV actor. The P.I. is drawn again and again to the scene of the crime, Reeves' home in Brentwood, where Simo speculates just how and why Reeves' life had come to such a tragic end.

Reeves had slept his way to stardom ... literally. He was just another pretty boy Hollywood hopeful with little talent but the face of a hero when beautiful Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), the wife of a powerful MGM studio executive (Bob Hoskins), caught his eye. Reeves was attracted to Toni's wit and beauty but he is honest enough to admit to his older woman mistress that he bedded her because of what she could do for his career.

While he dreamed of fame on the Silver Screen, Reeves had to settle for starring as Superman on television which left him bitter and unfulfilled. When the show was eventually cancelled, Reeves broke off his relationship with Toni and took up with a young New York society tart, Leonore Lemmon. Leonore had ambitions of her own. Maybe if she latched on to Superman she could grab the spotlight and become a Hollywood star herself. Toni Mannix, distraught at losing her lover, had plenty of reason to want George to suffer.

Early in the wee hours of June 16, 1959, George Reeves was found dead in his bedroom, lying naked sprawled across his mattress with a single gunshot wound to his head. A gun was on the floor but there were no fingerprints on the revolver and no residue on Reeves' hand. After waiting nearly an hour to call the police, George's fiancee, Leonore, and some of her friends told investigators that George had been moody and depressed all evening but they didn't think he was suicidal.

The death of Superman: another suicide or, perhaps, a cold-blooded murder of a Hollywood? Ah, the stuff that screenwriters just love to wrap their words around. The essence of Hollywoodland is that a sad longing to be ‘somebody' will never be enough to make you happy.

If you're into conspiracy theories or just into retro Hollywood legends, Hollywoodland will entertain, but not inspire. While much attention has been given to staging and propping to recreate Hollywood of the 1950's, this film is not up to the standards of L.A. Confidential or Chinatown, excellent films that this flick is definitely trying to emulate. Adrien Brody's Louis Simo is not up to Jack Nicholson's J.J. Gittes, by any means. However, even a B movie can help you while away an hour or two. Hollywoodland won't find stardom but, like George Reeves, sometimes it is better to just settle for who, or what, you really are.

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