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Man of Steel/Man of Kleenex: The George Reeves Story

Updated on March 25, 2016

Hollywoodland

What really happened to George Reeves?
What really happened to George Reeves? | Source

Credits

Hollywoodland: Rated “R” (126 minutes)

Starring: Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, Bob Hoskins, Robin Tunney

Directed by: Allen Coulter

TV’s “Real” Man of Steel

Superman is dead, long live Superman. No, this isn’t some funnybook/geek version of the ancient salute for the passing of Kings, this is an assessment of this 2006 film’s content. Legend has it that George Reeves, the actor who played Superman in one film as well as the famous ‘50s TV show shot himself in the head because he was despondent over the fact that he couldn’t shake his persistent image as The Man of Steel.

Hollywodland (Widescreen Edition)

Hollywoodland (Widescreen Edition)
Hollywoodland (Widescreen Edition)

Based on the true story of Hollywood's most notorious unsolved mystery, Hollywoodland is a tale of glamour, scandal, and corruption in 1950's Los Angeles. When George Reeves (Ben Affleck), star of TVs Adventures of Superman, is found dead in his home, millions of fans are shocked by the circumstances of his death. The police and the studio bosses want the case closed as a suicide, but rumors linger. Louis Simo (Adrien Brody), a private investigator, picks up the trail and begins to piece together the actor's last, tension-filled days. Who pulled the trigger? Was it the seductive yet scheming fiancee, the spurned lover (Diane Lane), the enraged husband (Bob Hoskins), or was it Reeves himself?

 

True Crime

While this film doesn’t so much give lie to the dogged rumors of how Reeves died (for that you’ll have to find a copy of Eclipse Comics’ True Crime Comic, where it is discussed at length) it does, perhaps, give us a greater understanding into who the man in the spandex unitard truly was.

Hollywoodland: Trailer

What Really Happened to George Reeves

The film doesn’t actually follow Reeves (Affleck) but rather follows Louis Simo (Brody) a divorced, down on his luck detective who specializes in cheating spouses who only learns of the Reeves case when his own estranged 10-year-old son becomes despondent over reports of “Superman’s” apparent suicide.

Ben Affleck as George Reeves

Back when Superman was on TV
Back when Superman was on TV | Source

INside Hollywoodland

As he delves deeper into the death he learns of aspects of Reeves life that the studio bosses would prefer kept off the front page of Hollywood tabloids and out of the gossip pages. Like that Reeves was the kept boy-toy of Toni Mannix (Lane), the very wealthy wife of MGM studio boss Eddie Mannix, with — of course her husband’s full knowledge and tacit consent.

On the case of who killed Superman

Looking into the death of George Reeves.
Looking into the death of George Reeves. | Source

What Ever Happened to George Reeves

He continues to dig into the death, bringing to light inconsistencies in the investigation. Even as he courts Reeves estranged mother all the while attempting to wheedle more money out of her. Keep the story on the front page of the LA papers, and position himself as a player in the studio- run town that is Hollywoodland. The film feels like a classic noir film giving the viewer a true glimpse into the tragic death of a man who galvanized a generation of children with his (some say wooden) depictions of an immortal hero.

Sly like an eagle

Wired for flight!
Wired for flight! | Source

The “Bill Shatner” of His Day

Seriously, think about it for a minute, Reeves was the Bill Shatner of his era. Had Reeves somehow managed to survive his “permanent” association with The Man of Steel — and not been killed (sorry folks, no spoiler here, while the film itself never quite takes a position on Reeves, death, this reviewer has seen other “evidence” and made up his own mind) it is entirely possible that he too could have gone on to direct, produce, write books, and star in other TV shows and films not associated with his iconic character. Who knows, in his later years, he might have even gone on to become the spokesperson for some corporation or other or record an album of spoken verse destined to become an uber-hip classic amongst the chic-geek set.

The Hollywood Lifestyle

Life in Hollywoodland
Life in Hollywoodland | Source

Conclusions

Sure, anything was possible for the poor, tortured, lost soul of George Reeves, and Ben Affleck and Adrien Brody help bring all of that to forefront of a heartfelt film about one of 1940s America’s most beloved fictional characters. George Reeves died way too soon, and this film shows us why. You truly owe it to yourself to find it on DVD and watch it.

Superman 1954 ∞ 1950's 18 minute episode

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