WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD? was George Cukor’s first major success as a director and served as the blueprint for three subsequent productions of A STAR IS BORN, including Cukor’s direction of Judy Garland in the 1954 version.
WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD? is one of the first pictures to show the underside of Hollywood. Presenting a startling picture of the true life behind the image of film industry glamour, the story focuses on the ambition of Mary Evans (Constance Bennett), a waitress who dreams of stardom. Seeing opportunity in the form of drunken restaurant patron and film director Maximillian Carey (Lowell Sherman), Evans makes a favorable impression on him, thereby catching the bottom rung of the ladder to her goal. However, the climb is not necessarily what Evans had hoped it would be, as her ascension coincides with Carey’s painful decline. Bennett gives a strong performance as the eager young hopeful who becomes a jaded star. Sherman, in a truly memorable supporting role, is arguably the driving emotional force of the drama. While later treatments of disillusioned starlets have made the premise of WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD? familiar, there remains a palpable sense of freshness to this original.
Theatrical release: June 24, 1932.
The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Producer David O. Selznick is said to have requested a realistic drama from writer Adela Rogers St. John, who apparently built her story around the lives of a variety of tragic Hollywood personalities, including Tom Foreman and John Barrymore.Cukor has written that 95% of the film’s dialogue was taken from real life.
Cukor’s original film about ambition and desperation in show business became the foundation for three separate productions of A STAR IS BORN, the second directed in 1954 by Cukor himself, starring Judy Garland as a songstress.
Information gathered from rottentomatoes.com.