I’m going through a pretty heavy noir phase right now, and I’m wondering if there are any such films (of that era) that deal with Hollywood-bound kids having their dreams crushed, or getting involved with crime? It seems to be something that’s hinted at a lot in most noirs I’ve seen, there often seems to be a young woman who wants to be a star but is going down the wrong path. Are there any films that explore this more directly?
Well isn’t there that film? The one where Brando says something along the lines of “I coulda been someone, I coulda been an entertainer.”
No perhaps that wasn’t it. This has stumped me, I have been mulling this over at work today and have come up with no direct hits. Seems to me you couldn’t move for tripping over failed writers and screenwriters in the Hollywood films of the 40’s and 50’s. But I reckon its the failed boxer thats the precise male alternate to the failed starlet, the mutually busted his & her ambitions of 99 River Street. The best I can come up with is Detour with its NewYork pianist falling headfirst towards Hollywood, but I guess more for a girl than any sort of ambition. Cukor’s A Double Life has an actor at least, but its the stage not the screen and its not the snuffing of ambition, more an excess of success. Scarlet Street lets the more sensitive failed ambition of painter be explored, but Edward G Robinson is definitely never going to pass as any sort of fresh faced Hollywood bound kid. What about the more recent neo-noir Hollywoodland? with its suicide of TV superman George Reeves who couldn’t make the big screen, his bit part in From Here to Eternity snipped to stop the incredulous laughter of the test screening audience.
whoops, just reread your post, and realise I got the wrong end of the stick, thought you were looking for noirs where male characters held dreams of becoming Hollywood stars as opposed to female, oh well an interesting diversion for me all the same!
You mean other than a contemporary neo-noir like Mulholland Drive? Ray’s In a Lonely Place is set in Hollywood, but that’s about a male screenwriter. Sunset Blvd is a sort of noir, but that’s about an over-the-hill actress.
You could try Ladykiller, a Cagney film which has some rough correspondence with what you’re asking for although it was made in 1933. Here’s the description from IMDb:
When a movie theater usher is fired, he takes up with criminals and finds himself quite adept at various illegal activities. Eventually though, the police catch up with him, and he runs to hide out in Los Angeles. There he stumbles into the movie business and soon rises to stardom. He has gone straight, but his newfound success arouses the interest of his old criminal associates, who are not above blackmail.
If it’s a neo-noir I’ve probably seen it; funny Sunset Blvd. was mentioned because it’s actually what sparked this for me… I guess I’m looking for something from that era that deals with young people sacrificing their innocence for Hollywood in some fashion, I find that theme to be a fascinating one. Or at least, I was wondering if any other pieces from then that were critical of Hollywood in a similar way existed. In a Lonely Place was excellent too (and I guess sort of along the lines of what I’m looking for), I’ll admit I haven’t seen most of the other stuff mentioned, so thanks to everyone for contributing.
Redbelt sounds about right, though it’s a recent noir. A jiu jitsu trainer befriends an actor and is made a producer on his film but he’s double crossed and forced into a money making scheme.
Oh, another somewhat near-fit for what you’re describing might be George Marshall’s The Blue Dahlia. It’s about a Navy pilot who comes home to Hollywood with a couple of his buddies after fighting in the South Pacific, catches his wife with another man, and things get worse from there.
I’ve been thinking and it is an interesting question. Hollywood seems not to have been a direct subject for noir (exception being Sunset Blvd). Of course, there are plenty of Hollywood stories in classical cinema in general. And ironically enough, modern or neo-noir is all about Hollywood. But for classical noir, perhaps Hollywood was already too dark a subject!