28 June 2005 | silverscreen888
Sleeper About Talent Search in 1850s Hollywood; Most Underrated
This is a true sleeper of a "B" film. It is a film about Hoillywood filmmakers by Hollywood filmmakers--when there was still a "Hollywood"--comprised of studios and people who tried, on whatever level of ideas--to be professional about participating in a marketplace of a sort relating to talents, scripts, films, advertising and selling of these to ticket buyers. There are several strands of story at work in this narrative. A studio sexpot, "friend" of a producer, wants a part in a classic drama for which she unsuited; she balks at her assignment, so the studio's heads then decide to conduct a talent search, inviting four actresses to test for the part a la Gone With the Wing, to generate publicity. . A young studio functionary directs their visit and screen tests, one who want to be allowed to direct eventually. And we learn about the four hopefuls and get to see their progress and their reactions to Hollywood. George Nader plays Mike, the young director; the four girls are Julie Adams, Marianne Koch, Elsa Martinelli and Gia Scala. The men in their lives are Syndey Chaplin, Grant Williams, and John Gavin, as well as Nader. Jack Sher was both writer and director of this well- made Universal Studios' effort. Others in the large and interesting cast included Herbert Anderson, Hy Averback, Ainslie Pryor, Dave Barry, James Bell, Mabel Albertson, Maurice Marsac, Helene Stanto, Irene Corlett and Eugene Mazzola. Alexander North did the excellent music, Julia Heron the set decorations and Rosemary O'Dell the challenging costumes. The film is fascinatingly different, bright, and well-paced. The young cast is unusually-sincere and some such as Marianne Koch and Chaplin surprisingly good. The climax of course comes when the four aspirants face the studio heads' choice of a leading lady; some have already made life-choices before the announcement is made, others are paired off with the gentlemen; but the choice comes as a shock to all concerned--and life in a Hollywood of minds committing professional suicide through lack of clear definitions goes another step toward TV-hastened oblivion. This is a not a stylish nor a pretentious film; it is however intensely interesting as an "insider" film about Hollywood; and it is very entertaining as a presentation of characters and filmland types. recommended.