Directed by Allen Coulter. U.S. 2006.

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In “Hollywoodland” a factual Case: the mysterious death in 1959, of Superman actor George Reeves (Ben Affleck) is investigated by fictional Private Detective Louis Simo (Adrien Brody). The film begins on the night of the death then proceeds to show Simo in his run-down apartment, dealing with another Case. Through a lead from a former colleague Simo visits Reeves' mother who is not satisfied with the Police verdict. When he begins to investigate we shift between time frames seeing, in some cases, what supposedly happened with Reeves, and in others, what Simo speculates. The lives and attitudes of the Actor and the Detective are compared and Simo comes to reassess his own ways. 

Police arrive at the Actor's Beverly Hills home. The dead body in the bedroom upstairs; four friends downstairs who waited forty-five minutes before 'phoning them. Back a few years: Reeves, out of work actor in tuxedo, is at Ciro's, a plush Hollywood nightclub. He points-out Billy Wilder and Fred Zinnerman then manoeuvres himself into a photograph next to Rita Hayworth. Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), wife of MGM General Manager Eddie (Bob Hoskins), sees this and starts to flirt. They spend the night together. She buys him a house, and he gets the part of Superman. Those are the facts. Sub plot: Simo, still young but has seen better days, visits his ex-wife to find that his estranged son and all the other boys in the area, are in a depression: Superman has shot himself with a Luger; a Nazi pistol: case closed. By chance Simo gets involved. He starts a press campaign, and begins digging: unexplained marks on the body, other bullet holes in the room, a jilted fiancé, and a suspicious car crash.

A lot was put into the research and re-creation of locations and settings. It shows. A jazz Score by Marcelo Zarvos blends powerfully with visuals and pace of movements, establishing the film's style. Although some Characters are ultra cool, the acting is naturalistic. A few authentic portrayals are only glimpsed: the Talent Agent (Jeffrey deMunn) who gives sincere advice: is it right advice? Fiancé Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney) who has some tantalising encounters with the detective. And Simo hardly notices his girlfriend (Caroline Dhavernas), who cares about him, but has another life as well with fellow acting students. Plot elements might have been taken further, in pure fiction. But what emerges from Simo's investigation is a complex story about an actor trying to make a career in Hollywood at the time of the arrival of Television. 

Peter Tonks
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