The Day of the Locust

“Sometimes, I wonder what we’re doing here, grown men making mud pies to sell to the great unwashed.”

There have been a good number of films made about the film industry, but few have taken such a dark and surreal look at the Hollywood machine as John Schlesinger’s 1975 “The Day of the Locust” did. While it’s based on the Nathanael West book from 1939 and takes place at that time, it feels like a modern — or possibly even timeless — story of the business and the fringe-dwellers who want to be a part of its magic. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we begin our Richard Dysart series with Schlesinger’s film. We talk about our experiences with this film (which is at times mind-boggling, slow, horrifically violent, absurd, and pointedly smart) and how it’s one of those films that sticks with you whether you want it to or not. We discuss the performances and how perfect they are for the story — William Atherton, Karen Black, Donald Sutherland, Billy Barty, and of course Richard Dysart. We chat about the interesting structure this film has, feeling more like a novel than a 3-act screenplay, and how it challenges us with trying to determine who we would call the protagonist. And we work to figure out what the film is saying through some of its incredibly haunting imagery. It’s not a film for everyone, but it’s certainly a film worth watching if you’re looking for a dark tale spun about the movie machine and how it destroys people. It certainly is a film that warrants a lot of discussion. Think you’re up for it? Give it a watch then tune in!

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