The Day of the Locust (film)
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
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.
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.
- Donald Sutherland as Homer Simpson
- Karen Black as Faye Greener
- Burgess Meredith as Harry Greener
- William Atherton as Tod Hackett
- Geraldine Page as Big Sister
- Richard A. Dysart as Claude Estee
- Bo Hopkins as Earle Shoop
- Pepe Serna as Miguel
- Lelia Goldoni as Mary Dove
- Billy Barty as Abe Kusich
- Jackie Earle Haley as Adore Loomis
- Gloria LeRoy as Mrs. Loomis
- Jane Hoffman as Mrs. Odlesh
- Norman Leavitt as Mr. Odlesh
- Madge Kennedy as Mrs. Johnson