It Happened In Hollywood (1937)

Film Review

IT HAPPENED IN HOLLYWOOD

Release Date: 7 September, 1937

Studio: Paramount

Director: Harry Lachman

Starring: Richard Dix, Fay Wray

Synopsis

A western star in silent films (Dix) is not given a contract when talking pictures begin. Although he has lost his ranch, he will not accept a gangster role in talkies. He is about to leave Hollywood when a young boy who idolizes him shows up as his door, having hitchhiked from Indiana to see him. Dix throws a party to introduce the boy to the stars. however, rather than the real stars, their stand-ins attend masquerading as the stars. The boy is fooled, but he is injured and cannot be moved. Neither Dix nor Wray has the money to take care of him, and Dix is about to rob a bank, when real robbers arrive and he pulls out his gun and stops them. The resulting publicity and the return of western films puts him back in film with Wray as his leading lady. The boy lives with them and they have a camp for children on their ranch.

Discussion

The transition from silent to talking films affected the careers of many actors. Some actors retained their stardom, but others declined. Dix’s character does not make a successful transition, but his career is revitalized when technical advances permit the production of outdoor films, such as westerns.

Samuel Fuller received his first screen credit on this film, as a screenwriter. In his autobiography A Third Face (2003, posthumously published and co-written by Christa Lang Fuller and Jerome Henry Rudes), Fuller states that the Dix character is based on famed cowboy actor Tom Mix who did not maintain his star position after the transition. Toby, the name of Dix’s horse is based on Mix’s Tony. The film features behind the screen views of film production, including the actors on a set surrounded by the director, various production assistants, the camera platform and other equipment. The microphone and camera truck are shown tracking Dix as he walks down the street during his aborted role as a gangster.