The Day of the Locust (film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Day of the Locust is a 1975 American drama film directed by John Schlesinger. The screenplay by Waldo Salt is based on the 1939 novel of the same title by Nathanael West. Set in Hollywood, California just prior to World War II, it depicts the alienation and desperation of a disparate group of individuals whose dreams of success have failed to come true.

The film stars Donald Sutherland, William Atherton and Karen Black.


A cynical and gothic look at Hollywood during the late 1930s, Day of the Locust tells the tales of residents of the dilapidated San Bernardino Arms: Faye Greener, a trashy aspiring actress with limited talent, and her father Harry, a former vaudevillian working as a door-to-door salesman; sexually repressed accountant Homer Simpson, who desperately loves Faye, and East Coast WASP Tod Hackett, an aspiring artist employed by the production department of a major studio, who also fancies Faye.

There are unusual and bizarrely disturbing images: a middle-aged man sits in an untended garden staring at a large lizard that stares back; a young woman is transported into the film she's watching and finds herself portraying a harem girl in old Baghdad; a dwarf strokes a rooster, bleeding and dazed from a cock-fight, then tosses it back into the ring to its death; an androgynous child beckons to a man through a window and performs a grotesque imitation of Mae West.

These brief vignettes do little to advance the basic plot, but they serve to comment on the sleaziness of Hollywood and its varied inhabitants. Spectacle fills the screen -- a set of the Waterloo battlefield collapses on the extras during the making of the film within the film -- and in the film's climax, a world premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theater evolves into a horrific riot culminating in gruesome tragedy.


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Day of the Locust (film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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