The Day Of The Locust
THE DAY OF THE LOCUST (18)
D: John Schlesinger
Paramount/Long Road (Jerome Hellman)
USA 🇺🇸 1975
W: Waldo Salt [based on the novel by Nathanael West]
DP: Conrad L. Hall
Ed: Jim Clark
Mus: John Barry
PD: Richard MacDonald
Cos: Ann Roth
Donald Sutherland (Homer Simpson), Karen Black (Faye Greener), William Atherton (Tod Hackett), Burgess Meredith (Harry Greener), Richard Dysart (Claude Estee), Geraldine Page (Big Sister), John Hillerman (Ned Grote), Bo Hopkins (Earle Shoop)
The darker side of Golden Age Hollywood during the roaring 30's, based on Nathanael West's hugely controversial novel.
Though he doesn't receive top billing, William Atherton plays the lead character, Tod Hackett, an art director who moves to Hollywood with high hopes, moving into an apartment complex where he develops an infatuation with Faye Greener, a bit part actress who can't land a big part due to her personal life, caring for her alcoholic father (a former vaudevillian), and her lack of discernible talent, to put it bluntly.
A love triangle emerges when Faye captivates Homer Simpson (no, not that one), a shy, devoutly religious accountant whom she exploits.
It's a highly cynical view of both Hollywood and the great American dream with allegorical references to the death of religion and the birth of mob mentality, propagated by a studio system that is built on corruption, immorality and impurity.
The finale does get a little bizarre, but it can't be denied that it will leave a lasting impression.
The cast are all excellent, especially Karen Black, with arguably her finest performance, and it's probably an injustice that she didn't land more leading roles following this. It's also a shame that William Atherton got typecast as sleazebags following his fine performance in this.
The film was rewarded with two Oscar nominations, for Burgess Meredith's supporting performance and Conrad Hall's cinematography. Personally, I think it deserved much more recognition.
A hugely underrated drama from a great year (and decade) for movies in general.