Hollywoodland: Death of ’50s Superman probed

Anna Robledo
September 13, 2006
Filed under Features

“Hollywoodland,” starring Ben Affleck as actor George Reeves, and Adrian Brody as detective Louis Simo, is based on the real life and death of Reeves.
Reeves’ death was ultimately ruled a suicide, but many rumors and speculations circulated about the true nature of his death.
After being hired by Reeves’ mother to investigate her son’s death, Detective Simo uncovers facts that lead him to believe that suicide is the least possible conclusion. His suspicions rise as he examines the list of evidence: Reeves’ mysterious bruises that were never reported on the autopsy, the bullet casing that was found underneath the body, the fact that no fingerprints were ever found on the gun, and, most mysteriously, the fact that his fiancÇ and their guests, who were downstairs having drinks, did not call the police until 45 minutes after his death.
The film’s format was similar to “Citizen Kane” with weaving flashbacks of the high’s and low’s of Reeves’ career, along with Simo’s investigation of the case.
The film also highlights Reeves’ relationship with Toni Mannix, played by Diane Lane, which changed his life dramatically. Mannix, who was married to an MGM executive, had an open affair with Reeves; in one scene Mannix and her husband had dinner with Reeves and her husband’s mistress.
The film seems to drag a bit when we are introduced to Simo’s troubles with his wife and son. Although they tried to mesh the two points together by having Simo’s son be distraught and acting up due to the death of his television hero Superman, the film could have done without this detail. It broke the flow of the story much like an intermission.
Throughout the investigation, Simo sees the many possible outcomes of the night of Reeves’ death. Although the scenes were important to the story, towards the end of the two-hour film it was all a bit tiring and repetitive. Overall, I enjoyed the film, even with the cheesy comic book- style dialogue. It is, however, for a more mature audience, due to many of its dated references that may be lost on a younger audience.

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