WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD? (1932) B/W 88m dir: George Cukor
w/Constance Bennett, Lowell Sherman, Neil Hamilton, Gregory Ratoff, Brooks Benedict
Splendid Hollywood drama about an aspiring actress discovered by a famous director. As her career progresses, his is shattered by drink and dissolution. Bennett is clever and beautiful, and veteran actor-director Sherman is brilliant as a talented man who sees his life destroyed by indulgence.
From Variety's contemporary review of the film: "It's a fan magazineish interpretation of Hollywood plus a couple of twists. A waitress becomes a picture star, marries a wealthy playboy, loses him and gets him back when her screen career founders on the suicide of the director who gave her a start.
"Director George Cukor tells it interestingly. Story [by Adela Rogers St. John] has its exaggerations, but they can sneak under the line as theatrical license. In any case, there's Constance Bennett floating around smartly dressed for street or boudoir; Neil Hamilton is more pleasant than usual as the juvenile; Gregory Ratoff is closer to some film producers in his portrayal than the average audience will realize; and Lowell Sherman is again to the front with a fine interpretation of a derelict director."
From the Turner Classic Movies website, www.tcm.com: Notes for What Price Hollywood? (1932):
"The working titles of this film were The Truth About Hollywood, Hollywood Madness and Hollywood Merry-Go-Round. Pre-production articles in Film Daily announced William Seiter as the film's director and Joel McCrea as Constance Bennett's co-star. Although filming had already begun in mid-April 1932, Bruce Cabot was announced as Bennett's co-star in an early May Film Daily news item. Robert Presnell was announced as the continuity writer in a Film Daily pre-production news item. According to Screen Achievements Bulletin records, after Adela Rogers St. John was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Story, the Writers Branch of the Academy investigated the film's writing credits and concluded that both St. John and Jane Murfin should have received screen credit for the original story and that Presnell should have received an 'adapted by' credit. In spite of the Academy's findings, only St. John was given a nomination. (Frances Marion won the award for The Champ.) RKO borrowed George Cukor from Paramount for the production. Film Daily news items add the following actors to the cast: Jack Trainor, Gordon DeMaine, Carol Wines, Rex Lindsey, Veda Buckland and Eric Wilton. Their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Some exterior scenes for the film were shot at the First United Methodist Church of Hollywood and at Grauman's Chinese Theatre. The film's budget was $411,676, according to studio records. A Hollywood Reporter news item states that a bedroom scene between Bennett and Neil Hamilton's characters was censored in Britain. The filming technique that Cukor used in 'Max's' suicide scene included unusual quick shot editing, exaggerated sound effects and a slow motion shot of 'Max' falling to the floor.
" After David O. Selznick, who left RKO in early 1933, produced A Star Is Born in 1937 for United Artists, RKO's legal department undertook a comparative point-by-point analysis of the story lines of that film and What Price Hollywood? and, based on the perceived similarities, recommended that a plagiarism suit be filed against Selznick. The disposition of the recommendation has not been ascertained. In 1954, Cukor directed the remake of A Star Is Born. ... According to modern sources, the Sherman character was modeled after Sherman himself, a known alcoholic, and silent film director Marshall Neilan, who also suffered from alcoholism. At the time of this production, Sherman was John Barrymore's brother-in-law and, according to modern sources, Barrymore also provided inspiration for the Sherman role. Modern sources claim that Selznick originally conceived of the 'Mary Evans' role as a vehicle for Clara Bow. Modern sources add the following actors to the cast: Bryant Washburn (Washed-up star), Heinie Conklin (Car owner) and Eddie Dunn (Doorman at Grauman's Chinese Theater). Gordon DeMaine is identified by modern sources as 'The Yes Man.' In addition, modern sources list Allen Rivkin as a screenwriter."