The Day of the Locust (1975)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

One of the most grim assessments of Hollywood life during the '30s, this cynical drama is adapted from a novel by Nathanael West and tells the tale of a talentless beauty's desperate struggle to become a star. The story, unfolding via flashback, is told from the viewpoint of a noted art director and features a number of ugly incidents from behind-the-scenes Tinseltown.
Classics , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Paramount Pictures

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Karen Black
as Faye Greener
Burgess Meredith
as Harry Greener
William Atherton
as Tod Hackett
Geraldine Page
as Big Sister
Richard Dysart
as Claude Estee
Bo Hopkins
as Earle Shoop
Pepe Serna
as Miguel
Lelia Goldoni
as Mary Dove
Gloria Le Roy
as Mrs. Loomis
Jane Hoffman
as Mrs. Odlesh
Norman Leavitt
as Mr. Odlesh
Madge Kennedy
as Mrs. Johnson
Ina Gould
as Lee Sister
Florence Lake
as Lee Sister
Margaret Willey
as The Gingo
John War Eagle
as The Gingo
Natalie Schafer
as Audrey Jennings
Gloria Stroock
as Alice Estee
Nicholas Cortland
as Projectionist
Gyl Roland
as Girl
Paul Stewart
as Helverston
John Hillerman
as Ned Grote
William Castle
as Director
Grainger Hines
as French Lieutenant
DeForest Covan
as Shoeshine Boy
John Michael Quinn
as Major Domo
Robert Pine
as Apprentice
Jerry Fogel
as Apprentice
Dennis Dugan
as Apprentice
David Ladd
as Apprentice
Bob Holt
as Tour Guide
Paul Jabara
as Nightclub Entertainer
Queenie Smith
as Palsied Lady
Margaret Jenkins
as Choral Director
Jonathan Kidd
as Undertaker
Kenny Solms
as Boy in Chapel
Wally K. Berns
as Theatre Manager
Dick Powell Jr.
as Dick Powell
Bill Baldwin
as Announcer at Premiere
Wally Rose
as Assistant Director
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Critic Reviews for The Day of the Locust

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (4)

Magnificent production, combined with excellent casting and direction, make The Day of the Locust as fine a film (in a professional sense) as the basic material lets it be.

Full Review… | June 11, 2008
Top Critic

The narrative is often confused and confusing.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Schlesinger has conceived his film as an epic, which was a daring thing to do with such slender material.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

A painfully misconceived reduction and simplification.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Accurately captures the intent of West's dark masterpiece.

Full Review… | May 8, 2012
TV Guide

John (Midnight Cowboy) Schlesinger's version of Nathanael Hawthorne's powerful novel about Hollywood and its dreamers and losers in the 1930s is not always effective, but it's ambitious, daring, and very well acted.

Full Review… | January 2, 2011

Audience Reviews for The Day of the Locust

Wow, what an ugly film. Presumably, this cynical tale of Hollywood wannabes was green-lit following the success of "Chinatown." Not one likable character in the cast -- even the lead Tod (William Atherton), with his shallow love for Faye (Karen Black), is hard to embrace. Donald Sutherland gives a remarkable performance as repressed neurotic Homer Simpson (now why does that name sound familiar?), but should have entered the story much earlier. Burgess Meredith? Wonderful, but wasted in a minor part. As if the other depravities weren't enough, there's even a repulsive cockfighting scene needlessly thrown into the mix. Meanwhile, the surreal climax is like an entirely different movie (shades of "The Wall"?) and goes way, way over the top. Interesting to see the often villainous Atherton as an innocent, William Castle in a cameo as a fictional director and the pubescent Jackie Earle Haley as an insufferable child-star brat.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer


Profoundly sad view of the lower rungs of Hollywood life in the 30's. Disturbing and unsettling. The climatic sequence is both horrifying and mesmerizing.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Allegorical film that depicts the moral decay of 1930's Hollywood. Donald Sutherland gave an unusual performance as Homer Simpson. The epic, horrifying climax is the true highlight of the picture, one of the best sequences of cinema ever filmed. Masterpiece.

Ivan Descartin
Ivan Descartin

Super Reviewer

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