Look. Up on the screen. Is it Batman? Is it Daredevil? No! It’s Superman… or at least the guy who portrayed the guy who portrayed Superman in the 1950’s television series. Ben Affleck stars as George Reeves, who committed suicide when he was unable to find any work that didn't require him to wear his underpants on the outside. Or did he? Investigating his mysterious death is Louis Simo (Adrien Brody), a low-rent private investigator who once worked for the movie studios. Frustratingly, over the course of Hollywoodland, we learn more about the fictional gumshoe than we do about the real Superman.
Los Angeles, 1959. Louis Simo, operating his detective agency out of a seedy apartment, takes a case that he knows is a dead-end. Chester Sinclair is convinced his wife is fooling around, despite Simo finding no evidence to support this. Nevertheless, Simo takes his money, figuring it’s an easy way to make a buck. Replacing his smoking habit by continuously chewing gum, Simo’s separation from his wife is making it difficult to be there for a son who is not coping with the death of Superman. As fate would have it, Simo’s ex-partner throws him a bone, telling him that Reeves’ mother is looking for someone to investigate her son’s death. A trip to the morgue leads Simo to believe that things may not be as clear cut as they seem.
Flashback to George Reeves (finally!) in happier times. In his own way, Reeves is also on the make, gate crashing photos of more famous celebs in the hope of being noticed. Somebody who does is Toni Mannix, wife of MGM Executive and infamous ‘fixer’, Eddie Mannix. The two begin an affair, with Toni showering the younger George with gifts and a house! Things look better on the career front as well, with Reeves landing the lead in the Superman TV series. But difficulty in finding work elsewhere leads George to believe that things may not be as clear cut as they seem.
And back and forth it goes. Simo’s investigation into Reeves’ death being constantly intercut with snippets of the actor’s life. The problem, inasmuch as presented here, is that neither is particularly interesting, with both plot strands co-existing rather than coalescing. Affleck overdoes both the charm and sullenness, failing with one and boring with the other, while Brody just remains sullen throughout. Far from being faster than a speeding bullet, the film flails about like a bleeding mullet. Compounding this are the numerous distractions built into Simo’s fictitious life that have no bearing on the main story whatsoever.
Perhaps he was speaking for the makers of this film when he said - “I can see the pieces. How they should fit. How I want them to fit. But I can’t.”
as George Reeves
as Toni Mannix
as Natividad Vacio
as Phyllis Coates
“Adventures of Superman” was cancelled after George Reeves’s death, not before.
The incident in which a boy points a loaded gun at Reeves stems from a story that Reeves himself often told. However, it is doubtful that this actually occurred.
Despite the inference, George Reeves’ scenes were not cut out of From Here to Eternity.
Hollywoodland recreates a couple of scenes from the TV series 'Adventures of Superman' and digitally inserts Ben Affleck into original footage of From Here to Eternity.