It Happened in Hollywood (1937)

ithappenedinhollywood_5It 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

Expectations: Moderate.

twohalfstar


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.

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I Shot Jesse James (1949)

Starring Preston Foster, Barbara Britton, John Ireland, Reed Hadley, J. Edward Bromberg, Victor Kilian, Tom Tyler, Tommy Noonan

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Expectations: Moderate. Wasn’t expecting too much from Fuller’s first movie.


Samuel Fuller’s directorial début is a character drama masquerading as a western. It features a lot of western conventions, but it’s all window dressing as far as I’m concerned. Fuller’s cinematic motives are to examine the tortured nature of Robert Ford, making the film not so much about the actual shooting, but about how it shapes Ford’s life following it and how he deals with the disgrace and pressure it adds. This makes for quite the interesting film and a fantastic début from the criminally underrated director Sam Fuller.

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