The Life and Death of 9413: a Hollywood Extra is a 1928 experimental short film directed by Robert Florey and Slavko Vorkapić. A guileless young man arrives in Hollywood hoping to be a movie actor. The executive that he talks to designates him 9413, writing the number on his forehead, and puts him to work as an extra. 9413 struggles to find work, and eventually dies. After he ascends to heaven, an angel wipes the number off of his forehead.
This weird little 13-minute short was made for a cost of $97. (Equivalent to $480 in 2014.) Florey got his friend Douglas Fairbanks to loan him some film negative and editing equipment. Florey would go on to a successful career as a film director, while Vorkapić had a similarly successful career as a film editor. And if that wasn't enough talent, the cameraman, credited only as "Gregg", was none other than Gregg Toland, one of the most famous cinematographers in history. Toland would go on to work with directors like Orson Welles and John Ford and do groundbreaking work in films like Citizen Kane and The Long Voyage Home.
The Life and Death of 9413 was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1997.
- Always Someone Better: 15, the actor who apparently is quite a bit better than 9413, and becomes a star. 15 is shown wearing a variety of masks, symbolic of acting roles. 9413 then shows 15 his own mask, a crappy-looking homemade mask that isn't nearly as nice. 15 looks at it with disdain.
- Bizarchitecture: The weird, pointy, jumbled buildings that don't look much like Hollywood (and were made of cardboard).
- The Faceless: All the studio execs and directors are shown only from behind.
- Horrible Hollywood: It doesn't get much more dehumanizing than having a number stamped on your forehead. And if that's not bad enough, people laugh at 9413 after he dies. And 9413 and the other actors make weird, robotic movements as they're manipulated by faceless directors.
- Repeat Cut: The sign "SUCCESS" flashes at the top of a hill. 9413 tries to climb a flight of stairs to reach "SUCCESS", but instead the film shows the same shot of 9413 climbing a few steps, then starting again at the bottom, then starting again at the bottom, symbolizing his failure and lack of progress.
- Stairway to Heaven: 9413 rides a car to Heaven. In keeping with the cheapness of the film, this is a little toy car with some kind of figurine inside it, being pulled by a string.
- Stock Footage: Of some LA landmarks, as well as a movie premiere.
- Winged Soul Flies Off at Death: 9413's soul rises from his body as the body lies in a coffin.
- You Are Number 6: Besides the protagonist, there's a brief shot of an attractive actress numbered 13, and another actor numbered 15. After 15 hits it big, his number is replaced by a star drawn on his forehead.