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Film / Hollywoodland

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A slow-burning thriller film released in 2006 and directed by Allen Coulter, Hollywoodland traces cheap detective Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) — hired to investigate the unexpected violent death of real-life actor George Reeves, most famous for his iconic role as Superman during The '50s. As Simo follows clues and leads, he finds he may be way out of his league.

Hollywoodland was done with a relatively low budget and performed rather disappointingly at the American box-office, but it was well received by critics. The George Reeves part went to Ben Affleck and critically it was perhaps the brightest spot in Affleck's checkered career between Good Will Hunting (1997) and Argo (2012), as he got surprisingly good reviews for his portrayal. Also starring Diane Lane and Bob Hoskins.

Trope examples:

  • Ambiguous Situation: The film never conclusively states if George took his own life or was murdered and offers strong evidence to support both claims.
  • Artistic Licence History: The film depicts Reeves having a bigger part in From Here to Eternity that gets cut down after audiences start laughing "there's Superman" - a common urban legend at the time. Numerous crew members from the film have contested this, and the original screenplay contains no additional scenes for Reeves's character. The director has also said that his part appears as filmed.
  • Betty and Veronica: Toni is the Betty and Leonore is the Veronica over George. Ultimately, the Veronica wins.
  • Bittersweet Ending: George is dead and the mystery behind his death is never solved but Louis goes home to spend time with his kid and possibly reconcile with his former wife.
  • Burn Baby Burn: After "The Adventures of Superman" gets canceled, George celebrates his show's cancellation by burning his Superman costume.
  • Defective Detective: Louis Simo has issues.
  • Dented Iron: Louis views a video of George training for a physically demanding new venture, but the latter is shown to be out of breath and visibly in pain.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: It's implied by the end that Louis wants to reconcile with his ex-wife.
  • Driven to Suicide: What Reeves' death is passed off as and it is implied that it was.
  • Groin Attack: One of the victims Louis failed to protect gets shot in the head, chest and vagina by her paranoid husband.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Louis Simo is a deconstruction loosely based on a real detective, Milo Speriglio.
  • Historical Beauty Update: Not as overt as some examples but Ben Affleck is definitely quite a bit better looking than the real George Reeves.
  • Hollywood Hype Machine: Reeves becomes tragically aware that he has become a victim of this.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: The movie begins because Simo is hired by Reeves' grieving mother to find out what really happened to George.
  • Private Detective
  • "Rashomon"-Style: As detective Louis Simo investigates the death of actor George Reeves, he goes through the many possible (and ultimately conflicting) theories on what happened.
  • Sidelong Glance Biopic: Simo is a fictional character, Reeves was not.
  • Smash Cut: During George and Leonore first meeting, it goes from Leonore bragging to her gal pal that "Superman's gonna get laid" to George and Leonore having sex in a motel.
  • Talking Your Way Out: Reeves does this when confronted by a child with a loaded gun who wanted to shoot him to see if Shooting Superman worked in real life. And he does it all without breaking character.
  • The Un-Reveal: Despite several numerous clues and suspects to Reeves' death, it is never confirmed whether Leonore, Toni, Mannix caused his death or if his death was a murder or a suicide.
  • Typecasting: In-Universe (and in Real Life too) this is George Reeves' recurring problem for the rest of his life after playing Superman.
  • Woman Scorned: Toni