Based on Nathanael West’s 1939 novel of the same name, The Day of the Locust is an oft-forgotten entry into 1970s filmmaking obsessed by the past.
Starring William Atherton, Karen Black and Donald Sutherland, it’s a bizarre, panoramic exploration of show business folly.
Based on a series of vignettes about an aspiring starlet (Karen Black) and the men in her life, the film engages with the hangers-on and failures drawn to Los Angeles and soon ejected by it.
Surreal and at times violent, it dances through elliptical imagery – offering a fierce critique of national blindness in the face of Hollywood’s false glamour.
Using diffusion filters and camera angles that let sunlight deflect off characters and objects within the frame, The Day of the Locust is one of the most beautifully photographed films of the 1970s, and Conrad L. Hall received one of its two Oscar nominations, for Best Cinematography.
Jackie Earle Haley