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The Day of the Locust (1975)

R | | Drama, Thriller | 12 June 1975 (UK)
An art director in the 1930s falls in love and attempts to make a young woman an actress despite Hollywood who wants nothing to do with her because of her problems with an estranged man and her alcoholic father.

Director:

John Schlesinger

Writers:

Nathanael West (novel), Waldo Salt (screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Donald Sutherland ... Homer
Karen Black ... Faye
Burgess Meredith ... Harry
William Atherton ... Tod
Geraldine Page ... Big Sister
Richard Dysart ... Claude Estee
Bo Hopkins ... Earle Shoop
Pepe Serna ... Miguel
Lelia Goldoni ... Mary Dove
Billy Barty ... Abe
Jackie Earle Haley ... Adore (as Jackie Haley)
Gloria LeRoy Gloria LeRoy ... Mrs. Loomis (as Gloria Le Roy)
Jane Hoffman Jane Hoffman ... Mrs. Odlesh
Norman Leavitt ... Mr. Odlesh (as Norm Leavitt)
Madge Kennedy ... Mrs. Johnson
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Storyline

Life's flotsam and jetsam turn up at late 1930's Hollywoodland's door, once more, in this insightful tale of wannabes and desperadoes. Tod Hackett, artist, has inspirations to become noticed until he meets Faye Greener, blonde bombshell, and is immediately smitten. She has other ideas. She has Homer Simpson, victim, in her sights and cruelty and loneliness takes new meaning as all three are slowly sucked into the Hollywood system of sycophants, diggers and parasites, sucking the life from others as the life, and soul, is slowly sucked from them. Written by Cinema_Fan

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The story of a small-town girl who wanted to be a big-time movie star. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish | French | German

Release Date:

12 June 1975 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Day of the Locust See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$17,793,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

William Atherton, Burgess Meredith and Richard Dysart were all also featured in The Hindenburg (1975), released in the same year. See more »

Goofs

At the premiere of The Buccaneer, the announcer calls special attention to Anthony Quinn's bit part. In 1938, Quinn was a little-known 23-year-old at the start of his career, and his presence in that film would only be of widespread interest looking back a few decades later. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Mrs. Odlesh: It isn't as splashy as some other places, but we pride ourselves on being a little classier.
Tod Hackett: [referring to a large crack in the plaster wall] Hmmm, the crack's real.
Mrs. Odlesh: Oh yes. We call this our earthquake cottage. Mrs. Porter had occupancy then. During the big one in '33. Property damage ran into the millions.
Tod Hackett: Will you fix it if I stayed for a while?
Mrs. Odlesh: Oh no! No! This is our showplace. Mrs. Porter wouldn't let us touch that wall. She worked that sampler herself to cover over the hole. ...
[...]
See more »

Alternate Versions

Although the UK cinema release was uncut the 2004 DVD version was cut by 46 secs by the BBFC to remove scenes of cockfighting. See more »

Connections

Features Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937) See more »

Soundtracks

Who's Your Little Who-zis?
Music by Walter Hirsch
Lyrics by Al Goering and Ben Bernie
See more »

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User Reviews

"...a forgotten masterpiece of 70's cinema"
15 May 1999 | by MRCastngSee all my reviews

Many critics consider The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West to be the best novel ever written about Hollywood. The screen version directed by John Schlesinger and written by Waldo Salt is one of the most faithful adaptations of a book to film ever made. Initially overlooked upon it's release in 1974 (to mixed reviews), it has since developed a huge cult following and is now considered to be a forgotten masterpiece of 70's cinema.

It tells the story of Todd Hackett who comes to Hollywood in the 1930's (but it might as well take place in the present) hoping for a career in set design, he soon finds that the road to success in the film industry is a difficult one and his journey takes a downward spiral as he falls in with the users and abusers of Hollywood, the desperate, disillusioned souls who, consumed by boredom and their own emptiness, search out any abnormality in their insatiable lust for excitement - drugs, perversion, crime.

Aside from top-notch direction, the film contains gorgeous (Oscar nominated) cinematography by Conrad Hall, a haunting score by John Barry, authentic period costume and art design, and outstanding performances from the entire cast. Notably: William Atherton as Todd, Karen Black (her finest role) as Faye Greener, a selfish, wannabe actress and extra, Burgess Meredith (also Oscar nominated) as her alcoholic father and former vaudeville star, and an almost unrecognizable Donald Sutherland as the sensitive, socially retarded misfit who is torn apart by those around him and triggers the films much talked about finale.

One thing is for certain, anyone who has seen the last 20 minutes of this disturbing film will never forget it. A must-see for film students, art directors, and anyone interested in the "golden" years of Hollywood.

Related reading:

Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger

Play it as it Lays by Joan Didion

Less than Zero by Brett Easton Ellis


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