The Day of the Locust


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Tod Hackett, the novel's most important character, does not quite belong to any of these types; thus, he can function as both observer of them and as an outsider who is sucked into Hollywood's fantasy world. Tod is flanked by Homer Simpson, an inept, emotionally damaged retiree, who has aimlessly drifted to California for a rest cure.

West's use of two protagonist-like figures creates problems of interpretation which will be discussed later. The reader should not confuse the artist Tod Hackett with the author Nathanael West. Despite some sympathy for Tod's discomforts and much agreement with his analysis of the Hollywood world, West is critical of Tod. Although West projects aspects of himself into Tod and Homer, he does this with more objectivity than in his portrayals of Miss Lonelyhearts and Shrike in Miss Lonelyhearts.

In that novel, the empathetic portrayal of the characters' suffering suggests the writer's identification with them. In The Day of the Locust, his approach is more clinical.

Readers coming to The Day of the Locust after reading Miss Lonelyhearts should also be prepared for other differences. The characters in the later novel are also grotesques and composites, but many of them are aware of their artificiality and have accepted it as necessary to their survival. They assume that role playing is the path to success and that material success comprises reality. In addition, these characters are shown in more complex networks of relationships than the characters in Miss Lonelyhearts, and their environment and financial situations are more detailed.

Many of them are victims, but for several reasons they receive less sympathy than do the characters in Miss Lonelyhearts. In line with the drudgery of the era, West gives little of the perfumed glamour of Depression-era Hollywood.

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His tinseltown is a place where dreams come to die. There's a strange sort of comfort in this no-nonsense approach to glitz. Far from leading men and women, West's characters are the extras — the flotsam and jetsam, the "screwballs and screwboxes" — of the film industry. This carnival fools are as hollow and flimsy as the studio sets they frequent. It is perhaps this that makes their bawdy chaos seem hilarious when it might otherwise be unbearable.

Through the figure of Tod Hackett — a set painter who is of the gilded Californian world yet also, vitally, apart from it — we are given distance. Fresh from Yale School of Fine Arts, he vows to turn his brush to the people who "have come to California to die". Unlike the other, papier mache, characters, we are assured that Tod "was really a very complicated young man with a whole set of personalities, one inside the other like a nest of Chinese boxes".

Like many others — Homer Simpson, the deadweight Iowan who considers waking up from a nap a victory; Earle Shoop, the Stetson-wearing cowboy from Arizona; Miguel, his cock-fighting Mexican friend; Honest Abe Kusich, a bellicose "book-keeping dwarf" — Tod fancies himself in love with the book's wannabe leading lady, Faye; but he escapes. Faye is an aspiring teenage actor whose only role so far has been as an extra in a "two-reel farce".

The Day of the Locust

Her movements are staged and her treatment of men so cruel that "if you threw yourself on her, it would be like throwing yourself from the parapet of a skyscraper. Even Tod finds her infatuating:. By creating an account, you agree to the Privacy Policy and the Terms and Policies , and to receive email from Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango.

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The Day of the Locust

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  1. The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West.
  2. Nathanael West and the writing of 'The Day of the Locust'!
  3. The Day of the Locust, by Nathanael West, glamorously grotesque!
  4. Day of the Locust.

Magnificent production, combined with excellent casting and direction, make The Day of the Locust as fine a film in a professional sense as the basic material lets it be. Variety Staff. Geoff Andrew. Schlesinger has conceived his film as an epic, which was a daring thing to do with such slender material. Roger Ebert. A painfully misconceived reduction and simplification. Jonathan Rosenbaum. Accurately captures the intent of West's dark masterpiece. John Midnight Cowboy Schlesinger's version of Nathanael Hawthorne's powerful novel about Hollywood and its dreamers and losers in the s is not always effective, but it's ambitious, daring, and very well acted.

Emanuel Levy. The casting choices are brilliant but the production is let down by a haphazard screenplay that misses the novel's point, and weak direction. Jamie Gillies. Much has been made of the climactic riot scene, which may have seemed novel when Nathanael West first wrote it back in the '30s, but it's just plain goofy when viewed today.

Luke Y. Blistering film version of the novel. One of Schlesinger's best works. Ken Hanke. A fascinating, if flawed, example of the film industry turning the lights on itself and finding nothing there but darkness. Film4 Staff.

Day of the Locust Movie Review () | Roger Ebert

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Abe Kusich's background includes everything but which one of the following?

As a writer, West builds grotesque, absurd castles in the sky; as a director, Schlesinger moves into them. You shouldn't deal with it like Homer, who bottles up emotions like he's working at a soda factory. But here, in this book, the alchemy that elevates Miss Lonelyhearts to the cold and glittering glory of Everest's heights settles instead into the weirder, less pristine shape of Kilimanjaro: Feet in the humid heat, midsection arid and weirdly populated with things not seen elsewhere, and then the transcendent snowy glory of the ending. When they finish, they feel better. There are hilarious moments, placed right before or after horror scenes. So not only am I completely confused as to Tod's obsession with Faye but also why he spends so much time hanging out with these reprehensible characters in the novel - possibly the biggest losers you've ever read about.

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Nathanael West

Directed by John Schlesinger. With Donald Sutherland, Karen Black, Burgess Meredith, William Atherton. An art director in the s falls in love and attempts to. The Day of the Locust is a American drama film directed by John Schlesinger, and starring William Atherton, Karen Black, Donald Sutherland, and .

Please click the link below to receive your verification email. Cancel Resend Email. The Day of the Locust Add Article. Super Reviewer. Share on Facebook. View All Photos. Movie Info One of the most grim assessments of Hollywood life during the '30s, this cynical drama is adapted from a novel by Nathanael West and tells the tale of a talentless beauty's desperate struggle to become a star. The story, unfolding via flashback, is told from the viewpoint of a noted art director and features a number of ugly incidents from behind-the-scenes Tinseltown.

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John Schlesinger.