It Happened in Hollywood (1937)
AKA Once a Hero
Starring Richard Dix, Fay Wray, Victor Kilian, Franklin Pangborn, Charles Arnt, Granville Bates, William B. Davidson, Arthur Loft, Edgar Dearing, James Donlan, Bill Burrud
Directed by Harry Lachman
It Happened in Hollywood may be the title that this film released with, but the film’s original title of Once a Hero (which for some reason is the on-screen title featured on the DVD release), is much more apt to describe the work at hand. Sam Fuller called this film his “first real screen credit,” and while it eventually led to bigger and better things for Fuller, It Happened in Hollywood feels like it contains even less of a Fuller influence than Hats Off did. But that’s OK, as this one is a much more cohesive and enjoyable film overall.
Like a great many films throughout the ages, It Happened in Hollywood is about a silent film star that has trouble making the transition to talkies. Unless I’m forgetting something major, this is the earliest film I’ve seen to use this somewhat common story framing device. I suppose this could be linked to Sam Fuller’s effervescent love of focusing on things relevant and topical before other filmmakers jump on the bandwagon.