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The Day of the Locust

4 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A young Hollywood art director gets a taste of the seedy, decadent underbelly of the movie industry.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Rating: R
Release Date: 8-JUN-2004
Media Type: DVD

Amazon.com

Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust is by consensus the great Hollywood novel, a poison-pen letter aimed squarely at the tinsel heart of the movie biz. Only in the 1970s could Hollywood actually hazard a film of this story, and the result is suitably corrosive. William Atherton is the observer Tod, Karen Black the blond starlet Faye, and Donald Sutherland the hulking Homer--but they are easily out-acted by the colorful supporting cast. In particular, Burgess Meredith's exhausted showbizzy salesman and Billy Barty's strutting dwarf are superbly crafted gargoyles in this Hollywood wax museum. Director John Schlesinger piles on the rancid atmosphere and rampant hypocrisy until the movie fairly drowns in its own grotesque vision. Long before the climactic apocalyptic riot, the film has torn itself up. There's no substitute for West's wicked prose, so the adaptation comes across as a literal-minded screech rather than a true bonfire of the vanities. --Robert Horton

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Donald Sutherland, Karen Black, Burgess Meredith, William Atherton, Geraldine Page
  • Directors: John Schlesinger
  • Writers: Nathanael West, Waldo Salt
  • Producers: Jerome Hellman, Sheldon Schrager
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, Surround Sound, Restored, Digital Sound, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: June 8, 2004
  • Run Time: 144 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001WTUE4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,262 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Day of the Locust" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Many critics consider The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West to be the best novel ever written about Hollywood. The screen version directed by John Schlesinger and written by Waldo Salt is one of the most faithful adaptations of a book to film ever made. Initially overlooked upon it's release in 1975 (to mixed reviews), it has since developed a huge cult following and is now considered to be a forgotten masterpiece of 70's cinema.It tells the story of Todd Hackett who comes to Hollywood in the 1930's (but it might as well take place in the present) hoping for a career in set design, he soon finds that the road to success in the film industry is a difficult one and his journey takes a downward spiral as he falls in with the users and abusers of Hollywood, the desperate, disillusioned souls who, consumed by boredom and their own emptiness, search out any abnormality in their insatiable lust for excitement - drugs, perversion, crime. In the end only unreasoned, undirected violence will feed their appetites. Aside from top-notch direction, the film boasts gorgeous (Oscar nominated) cinematography by Conrad Hall, a haunting score by John Barry, authentic period costume design and art direction, and outstanding performances from the entire cast. Notably: William Atherton as Todd, Karen Black (her finest role) as Faye Greener, a selfish wannabe actress and extra, Burgess Meredith (also Oscar nominated) as her alcoholic father and former vaudeville star, and an almost unrecognizable Donald Sutherland as Homer, the sensitive, socially retarded misfit who is literally torn apart by those around him and triggers the films much talked about finale.One thing is for certain, anyone who has seen the last 20 minutes of this disturbing film will never forget it.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
Nathanael West's caustic tale of early Hollywood has never been topped...ever. It is so dirty, filthy and debauched one needs a shower after reading it.
Director, John Schlesinger, has captured all of the putrid excesses of West's novel in bright sunny tones and dark demented neon tangents.
The final scene is so utterly nasty-- it remains one of cinema's most fantastic set pieces.
Karen Black, gives one of the sickest over-the-top grotesque performances in all cinema...and Donald Sutherland is not far behind.
Conclusion: If you want to watch Hollywood as an ugly train wreck then-- "Day of the Locust" is your film. (Not to be missed by fans of strange movies).
P.S. Hey, Criterion!! why don't you clean up this crappy inferior DVD mess and make the ultimate statement of this lost masterpiece...John Schlesinger RIP
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Format: DVD
Oh my god the picture quality on this classic film is just horrible.
There is so much grain through out this film that I thought I was loosing my eye site. My VHS copy looks better!
There aren't any extra features on this dvd as well as 90% of Paramount home video's older films.
I am never buying another DVD from Paramount until they shape up with their releases.
:(
A movie like this deserves better treatment ...I feel robbed.
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Format: VHS Tape
I've often wondered how accurately Hollywood portrays the desperation of those who seek to live in it's world. I believe in most cases that there is a great deal of exaggeration used in order to drive a weak story. I didn't feel that way when I watched "The Day of the Locust". I felt extremely uncomfortable throughout most of this movie because I knew within five minutes that this story wouldn't have a happy ending. I commend the great job that was done in casting this project because I can't imagine anyone else other than Donald Sutherland and Karen Black playing the roles of Homer Simpson and Faye Greener. Burgess Meredith, Bo Hopkins, and William Atherton also delivered strong supporting efforts. This was a very disturbing movie, and at times quite violent. What has haunted me the most about this film was how much emotional damage human beings will inflict on those that are closest to them. I recommend this movie, but be prepared to maybe take the rest of the day off after you see it, cause it'll wreck you for sure.
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Format: DVD
If you are an avid movie fan, then you probably know how it is to no longer have the ability to be tremendously affected by great movies, although you can still recognize their greatness. An example would be All About Eve. I have overwhelming respect for this film, but it has always left me relatively unmoved. Another example would be Dogville. I definitely could not bring myself to say that about The Day of the Locust, which is a massive artistic achievement, which speaks the truth, and speaks it directly to the heart. Truth is so rare today that when it hits you, it hits hard, and that is exactly what this film has to offer.
The Day of the Locust is inherently ambitious, and that is commendable regardless of how effective the final piece is. It is fortunate that all the artistic elements combined so seemlessly and movingly. The film, although it may not be readily apparent, is extremely well casted. Karen Black gives a career-best performance as Faye Greener, a creature so messed up inside that it is easy to love her in spite of her flaws, and that was just the mistake Todd (Donald Sutherland) made. In an ideal world, people meet and fall in love. But this is the dark, seamy, loveless side of Hollywood and the ability to love is all but forgotten (one could see parallels in our world today, that our world has in fact fallen prey to these loveless creatures, making the film ever more relavent), except in the heart of Todd who seems to be the hero of this rather tragic film.
There are many, many moments and lines that will make a kind of jarring imprint on your memory. One of the most horrific, nightmarish scenes occurs at the end of the film, when Faye is finally burned from Todd's memory forever, but, as we soon find, that loss is not too much of a bother for Faye...
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