A potentially interesting comic-book themed film is opening this weekend, HOLLYWOODLAND, starring Ben Affleck, Adrian Brody and the ever radiant Diane Lane in a film covering the still-mysterious death of actor George Reeves, who played Superman on TV. Affleck plays the actor who either shot himself while a card game was going on downstairs in the house, or else got whacked by the mobster husband of the woman he was dating. A wire story talks about the film, with much emphasis on the difficulties the movie faced due to Warners’ desire to distance Superman from a sordid tale of suicide and infidelity.
The low-budget biopic – set in the late 1950s and starring Ben Affleck as TV “Superman” George Reeves and Adrien Brody as a private eye investigating Reeves’ suicide – shows the actor to be an adulterer, a drunk and an industry laughingstock. It also floats the theory, via Brody’s down-and-out gumshoe, that Reeves didn’t commit suicide in 1959; that he was murdered by a jealous studio exec and that the Hollywood police and press not only bungled the investigation but also may have facilitated a coverup.
Little wonder Warner and DC discouraged the making of the picture. You might even say they put up roadblocks, nixing the movie’s original title (“Truth, Justice & the American Way”), turning down requests for clips from the “Adventures of Superman” series and forbidding any use of the Superman image in ads. The posters make “Hollywoodland” look like a generic film-noir mystery a la “Chinatown.”
“I didn’t realize DC and Warners had such a lock on the world of Superman,” says director Allen Coulter during a stopover in San Francisco to promote his unusual new film. “They have a proprietary attitude toward Superman’s image and were leery about what we were doing.”
The story is unusually frank in the complaints from filmmakers.
You can read more about the mystery of George Reeves death at Wikipedia.