What Price Hollywood? (1932) starring Constance Bennett, Lowell Sherman, Neil Hamilton, directed by George Cukor
In What Price Hollywood? a drunken director discovers an actress who goes on to become “America’s Pal”. She falls in love with a rich young man. but the director — and her career — pull them apart. After the director’s eventual suicide, her career falls apart as well.
- Neil Hamilton literally kidnaps her to take to a dinner. She resists, and he virtually force-feeds her. This somehow turns into a romantic dinner, and she begins to fall in love with him.
- The drunken director predicts that neither her marriage or his liver will last for long.
- After marriage, there’s conflict between her rich husband and her career pulling her away from him.
- What Price Hollywood? is clearly a pre-code movie. At the beginning of the movie, Constance is clearly not an innocent. She’s willing to do anything to get a movie part … And later, Neil Hamilton divorces her — while she’s pregnant with his child. Although, it needs to be said that he’s unaware of it at the time.
- Some aspects of the cinematography are just exceptional. Examples include the montage of his life that the director sees as he commits suicide. As is “America’s Pal” visually fading after the scandal of the director’s suicide in her house.
Cast of characters
- Mary Evans (Constance Bennett, Merrily We Live). Brown Derby waitress, an aspiring actress, has an opportunity to meet drunken film director Max Carey when she serves him one night. And uses him to climb the rungs in Hollywood …
- Max Carey (Lowell Sherman). The drunken director, who helps Mary with her career. Even as his life continues in a downhill, destructive spiral.
- Lonny Borden (Neil Hamilton, Tarzan and His Mate, Batman). Wealthy polo player who convinces Mary to marry him. Against Julius and Max’s better judgment, of course. He becomes increasingly annoyed by the dedication of his movie star wife to her work, and finally walks out on her.
- Julius Saxe (Gregory Ratoff, All About Eve). The producer who signs Mary to a contract after her (second) screen test, and tries to shepherd her career.
- Bonita (Louise Beavers, Bullets or Ballots). Mary’s Maid.
- James (Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, The Jack Benny Show, Broadway Rhythm). Max’s Butler
- Three Little Words (1930) Music by Harry Ruby
- The Wedding of the Painted Dolls (1929) Music by Nacio Herb Brown
- Louise (1929) Music by Richard A. Whiting
- Happy Days Are Here Again (1929) Music by Milton Ager
- Pagan Love Song Music by Nacio Herb Brown; Lyrics by Arthur Freed
- The Wedding March (1842) Written by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
- Parlez-moi d’Amour (1930) Music by Jean Lenoir, Lyrics by Jean Lenoir
- All of Me (1931) Written by Seymour Simons and Gerald Marks, Sung a cappella in part by Louise Beavers
Editorial review of What Price Hollywood? courtesy of Amazon.com
Sassy and ambitious waitress Mary Evans (Constance Bennett) amuses and befriends seldom-sober director Max Carey (Lowell Sherman), who stumbles into her restaurant. Max invites Mary to his film premiere and, after a night of drinking and carousing, Mary charms her way into a screen test and then a contract with a movie studio. Just as Mary finds her dreams coming true and her career on the upswing, Cary’s life and career begins its descent. A seldom-seen gem from the oeuvre of famed film director George Cukor, What Price Hollywood? Takes a shrewd, playful and pragmatic view of cinematic life from the other side of the camera, and created the blueprint from which all other “true-life Hollywood tell-alls” have been created, including A Star Is Born, in the 1954 version of which Cukor directed Judy Garland.