Death in Hollywood

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German title Death in Hollywood
Original title The Loved One
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1965
length 123 minutes
Age rating FSK 18
Director Tony Richardson
script Terry Southern
Christopher Isherwood
production Haskell Wexler
John Calley
music John Addison
camera Haskell Wexler
cut Hal Ashby ,
Brian Smedley-Aston ,
Antony Gibbs (Editing Supervisor)

Death in Hollywood is a prominent American film satire from 1965 by Tony Richardson based on the novel The Loved One (1948) by Evelyn Waugh . The film was also inspired by the book The American Way of Death (1963) by Jessica Mitford . Robert Morse and the other two lead actors Jonathan Winters (in a double role) and Anjanette Comer lead a notable group of well-known and popular Anglo-American actors, including Rod Steiger , Milton Berle , John Gielgud , Tab Hunter , Margaret Leighton , James Coburn , Robert Morley , Dana Andrews , Lionel Stander , Roddy McDowall and the pianist and entertainer Liberace .

Author of the novel Evelyn Waugh (1940)


Dennis Barlow is a young English poet who flies to Los Angeles to visit his uncle, Sir Francis Hinsley, who lives there. For three decades he has been working in the planning department for a large film production company. One day the veteran Briton is fired by his young boss DJ junior, whereupon Sir Francis hangs himself. Sir Ambrose Abercrombie, Grand Seigneur and Head of the British "Film Colony" in Hollywood, asked Dennis to organize Sir Francis' funeral at Whispering Glades Memorial Park, Tinseltown's most exclusive cemetery. The burial, as the massive nobleman Dennis makes clear, should turn out to be splendid, and so newcomer Dennis, who is very surprised about the burial habit in the film community, has to invest a large sum of his deceased uncle's money for his burial. The noble cemetery is run by Reverend Wilbur Glenworthy. This very pious man of God offers Dennis, who has so far been unemployed in Los Angeles, a job with Wilbur's twin brother Harry, who was also recently fired from a film studio. Dennis should try his hand at preaching Harry's new company, The Happier Hunting Grounds, a cemetery for faded pets of the rich and beautiful.

Dennis soon falls in love with Aimee Thanatogenos, the beautician from Whispering Glades, whose job it is to make the corpses look better before their last walk. But Mr. Joyboy, the hyper-correct chief embalmer of the cemetery, has also had an eye on the elegant Aimee. She is not exactly enthusiastic about the two applicants for her favor: Dennis “borrows” his poems from other authors without being asked and also suggests living with her at Aimee's expense. Mr. Joyboy, on the other hand, has a morbidly overweight mother who just fiddles with food all day. The bizarre mother-son relationship is also a deterrent to Aimee. Aimee Thanatogenos goes to her Guru Brahmin to get some final clarity about her emotional confusion. She hopes to receive wise advice from the supposedly wise scholar. The guru advises Aimee to have a relationship with Dennis. The two young people then become engaged, but when the Englishman sees that Aimee has built her half-finished house near a cliff, which is not the best idea in an earthquake region like the California coast, he immediately distances her a little .

When Mr. Joyboy's bird, a Maina, dies, he goes with the carcass to the pet cemetery to choose the final resting place for his faded pet. Henry Glenworthy set up a test laboratory for 13-year-old rocket builder Gunther Fry, a kind of youthful version of Wernher von Braun , on his cemetery grounds . The Glenworthy brothers believe that the future lies in space, and that ultimately means that one day, for reasons of space, one or the other corpse will have to be shot into space. Mr. Joyboy does not find this idea completely absurd and wants his dead bird to make its way into orbit without any flying skills of its own. Joyboy's competitor for Aimee's favor, Dennis, organizes the farewell ceremony, which the reverent Aimee is deeply indignant about. Mr. Joyboy is delighted at Aimee's estrangement from Dennis, since he thinks he has better cards with the beautiful woman again.

Inspired by Brother Henry's missile program, the Reverend Wilbur Glenworthy is already working on a new project with which he wants to develop a new business model: As the cemetery he runs is filling up and filling up, he urgently needs to get rid of a few already buried corpses, and that too the dollar continues to roll. And so he came up with the idea that one could also shoot human corpses into space with Brother Henry's or Gunther Fry's rocket program, especially since a retirement home on the cemetery grounds that would become free would pay off much better. Wilbur then plans to remove a number of coffins from the grave sites. Wilbur is committed to the idea of ​​a perfect recycling chain: The deceased in the old people's home can immediately go to rest in his cemetery and later, depending on the space requirements or the last will of the deceased, be finally disposed of via rocket. Wilbur plans to set up this program in cooperation with the Air Force General Buck Brinkman, because only he can provide the appropriate missiles or launch pads. To make the military compliant, Wilbur organized a solid orgy in his cemetery for the high-ranking men in uniform.

Dennis, who doesn't want to lose Aimee under any circumstances, tells her that the Whispering Glades cemetery is about to close. Immediately she runs to Mr. Joyboy to be comforted by him. But he's not there because he has just been called to Wilbur's cemetery to prepare for the embalming of a corpse that is about to be sent into space. The dead person is a former astronaut who was called "The Condor" in appropriate circles. Aimee, now without any support or advice, is looking for her guru, but Brahmin is hanging out in a bar drunk and in delirium gives her the “advice” to throw herself out of the window without further ado. Desperate, Aimee runs to Wilburs Cemetery, where she meets the Reverend. He confirms Dennis' statement and gets on her in an insubordinate way. Aimee, who until now had always looked up to the pious man of God, rejects his clumsy attempt at seduction. Deeply humanly disappointed, the shaken and disgusted Aimee has lost her belief in the good in people and commits suicide by embalming herself.

Mr. Joyboy finds her body at his workplace and fears a scandal. He notifies his once fiercest competitor, Dennis, and they both plan to have Aimee's body disappear in the crematorium of the pet cemetery. Dennis demands that Mr. Joyboy buy him a first class flight home ticket and all the money he can hold on to with both of his hands. But then you have an even “better” idea: Both men plan to put Aimee's dead body on the rocket instead of that of the dead astronaut, and to shoot the deceased beautician into space as the first dead person. The "Condor" planned for this maiden flight lands in the animal crematorium instead. After the first rocket launch of a corpse was televised across the country, Dennis flies home to England.

Production notes

Death in Hollywood was filmed at the Greystone Mansion in Los Angeles (exterior shots) and was premiered on October 11, 1965 in New York City. The German premiere took place on April 9, 1966, the German television first broadcast was on ZDF late in the evening on September 28, 1971.

Ruth Gordon and Jayne Mansfield also worked here, but the scenes with them were cut out of the finished film.

Martin Ransohoff took over the production management. The film structures and the costumes were designed by Rouben Ter-Arutunian , with Antony Gibbs overseeing the editing .


Rod Steiger received the Spanish film prize Sant Jordi de Cinematografia for his performance as Mr. Joyboy for best actor in a foreign production.

useful information

In 1947, master author Evelyn Arthur Waugh visited the United States to work in Los Angeles on a film adaptation of his novel " Brideshead Revisited ". During his stay in Hollywood, Waugh also attended a funeral at Forest Lawn Memorial Park . Waugh was disgusted at how the American film industry and the American funeral industry were intertwined, and he put these impressions on paper in his novel.


The international reviews judged very differently - from completely enthusiastic to deeply disgusted ... and sometimes even both in one. A number of examples are given below:

Bosley Crowther wrote in the New York Times the day after it premiered: “After the drummers boasted that The Loved One was a shameful film with something to offend everyone, I can't Recognize the reason to contradict this jubilation: It IS insulting - but for reasons other than boldness and tactlessness of its topic. (...) His outspoken and glittering displays of the fantastic funeral rituals practiced in some of the garish cemeteries near Hollywood are of course shocking and disturbing when they are so vividly and vulgarly revealed (...) Yes, "The Loved One" may be disturbing, but he reveals himself to be vital when ... he makes fun of the stupidity of Los Angeles and its exuberant funeral ceremonies. What's offensive about it ... is the violent, undisciplined disproportionate nature of its morbid coarseness. There is too much joking around corpses, too many clowning around the embalming room, too much disgusting juxtaposition of dead bodies and food. (...) All in all, "The Loved One" is disastrous as a biting satire but does what the advertising drummers say. A lot of people could feel hurt. Somehow people seem to like that. "

Star critic Pauline Kael judged in 1968: "Even a chaotic satire like this is cleansing, and it is quite confusing to tear up even a bad film that speaks out against God, mother and fatherland."

The Movie & Video Guide stated that the story was “correctly advertised as a film that offends everyone” and concluded that “Death in Hollywood” was “funny and at the same time repulsive to howl. Once seen, Mrs. Joyboy will never be forgotten ”.

Kay Wenigers The film's great personal lexicon called in Tony Richardson's biography "Death in Hollywood" "a pitch-black, bitterly evil satire on the follies and egocentrics of the residents of the Californian film metropolis."

In the lexicon of international films it says: "The film is viciously biting and directs its attention to a treacherous part of the American civilization fleeing in illusions: the" Way of Death "."

Halliwell's Film Guide found the film to be “a stinging satire on the American way of death that slipped out of hand, with a screenwriter and actors alike who put on too fat. But there are pleasant, biting moments in a film that was advertised as 'the film that has something that offends everyone'. "

The New Yorker ruled in 1978: "A sinking ship that makes it to port because everyone on board is too dizzy to panic".

Hal Erickson wrote: “The film historian William K. Everson noted that" The Loved One "was one of the best and most underrated comedies of the 1960s. For everyone else, especially those who feel guilty about giggling at the sight of Anjanette Comer committing suicide with an embalmed needle, this is entirely a matter of taste ... or lack of it. "

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Review in The New York Times
  2. ^ Leonard Maltin : Movie & Video Guide, 1996 edition, p. 786
  3. ^ The large personal dictionary of the film, Volume 6, p. 518. Berlin 2001
  4. Death in Hollywood. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed February 11, 2019 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  5. ^ Leslie Halliwell : Halliwell's Film Guide, Seventh Edition, New York 1989, p. 623
  6. ↑ Brief review on

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