DAY OF THE LOCUST, like the powerful and incisive Nathanael West novel on which it is based, focuses on the seamy side of the city of dreams in its 1930s heyday--the subculture of losers, misfits, and neurotic fringe characters. Black is a sexy untalented aspiring actress who lives with
her father, Meredith, a former vaudevillian, now a down on his luck door-to-door saleman. Recognizing her limited prospects, Black becomes a regular on the casting couch of producers in the hope that she'll rise above her usual walk-ons. She still has dreams of fame and legitimacy. Despite her
dubious character, Atherton, an altruistic art director, falls for her but she gives him the cold shoulder--at first. She soon begins amusing herself by toying with him. This is the beginning of a pattern. When she finds herself destitute she moves in with a sensitive but oafish accountant,
Sutherland, who loves her from afar. She and all about him use and ridicule him as he lumbers through life; he is particularly vexed by an evil neighborhood child, Haley. Everything comes to a head in the apocalyptic finale of the film, a memorably traumatic spectacle.
This grim conclusion, along with the stark and unsavory story and characters that preceded it, brought shudders to audiences and undoubtedly helped this excellent film fail at the box office. Nevertheless, it accurately captures the intent of West's dark masterpiece. Black is the perfect slattern
with movie ambition--cheap, shallow, conniving, and utterly reprehensible. Sutherland gives one of his best performances as the doltish but sensitive outsider whose concern for films is marginal at best. The movie boasts excellent supporting players, such as Atherton as the ethereal art director.
He is savvy to Hollywood and gives it back the banal glibness that is the hallmark of its society. Many of the characters are inspired by historical Hollywood figures. DAY OF THE LOCUST exudes authenticity, from the costuming to the cars, from the exotic clothes to the marcelled hair styles. leave a comment