The Day of the Locust (1975) [Arrow Video Release] 

In this satire of 1930s Hollywood, an art director moves into an apartment building where most people are in the industry or want to be. Soon, he falls for a troubled woman who’s involved with a few people with their own issues. Through this, he wants to make her a star. 

Based on the work by Nathanael West and adapted for the screen by Waldo Salt and directed by John Schlesinger, the film plays a lot like a classic film and the satire is deep. These days the film plays slightly differently as both a historical artifact and a satire while also being a drama and a thriller. It’s one of those films that feels oddly out of place these days while still feeling rather perfect as a snapshot of the past. It’s one of those films that fairly aged well while also feeling very much stuck in the past, which may be the goal here. The writing is good, and the direction is solid, leading to a cast that works in a cohesive way together. 

The cast here is made up of familiar faces when they were young, led by Karen Black as the wannabe starlet, William Atherton as the art director who loves her, Donald Sutherland as one of the men she’s entangled with, and Burgess Meredith as her alcoholic father. The film is sold as being about Atherton’s Tod, but it all revolves around Black’s Faye, and she is fantastic here. The whole cast does well here in fact. Their performances feel almost like those of 1930s movies with a bit of 1970s in there of course. The supporting cast is interesting, but a bit uneven at times, but they don’t get that much screen time, so those who are a bit off (when compared to the others) are not too noticeable.  

The film here has an aspect (or a few) that is just on point and that’s its look. The film was clearly carefully planned, designed, with costume, art department and direction, as well as cinematography, and editing to make it something that stands out to this day. It’s a visually beautiful film with just the right, almost soft, focus giving the film a dreamy look throughout, something that helps create a nostalgic feeling for an era of film that is long gone yet idealized to this day. 

This release here is one that was done with as much attention to details with a good remaster from the original negative to 2k definition. Of course, there are limitations to these types of transfer, but here, the look of the film is retained and works just fine in 2k. The sound options in 5.1 and 2.0 are more than decent. The extras are where it’s at to learn a bit more about film and its history. The extras here have a visual essay called Days of the Golden Age with Elissa Rose, a costume and film historian. There is also a new commentary with more than a few people including some of the cast giving an oral history of the film. Of course, new art by Colin Murdoch accompanies it all. There are of course a few more extras here as this is a loaded release, but those are the best of the bunch.