In 1975 director John Schlesinger adapted Nathanael West’s 1939 novel The Day of the Locust for the silver screen. West’s novel was the first of its kind to angle at the theme of Hollywood-as- metaphor-for-moral-decrepitude (hard to imagine a time when this theme wasn’t at all an exhausted cliche). The 1975 movie, set in 1939, is a period piece about the Golden Age of cinema starring Donald Sutherland as the earnest Homer Simpson, an emotionally spent Midwesterner devoured by the dream of California, William Atherton as the astute artist who sold out to Hollywood, and Karen Black as Faye Greener, a beautiful blonde with delusions of stardom and the petulance of a toddler. The assemblage of cast members is spot on with West’s novel and, despite the direction being a bit wonky at parts, it’s a fabulous movie.
And that’s not to mention the clothes, which steals the show as always. The costuming was done by Ann Roth who also was responsible for costuming Jane Fonda in Klute, a defining style movie of the 70s. Faye’s wardrobe is a sublime cross section of late 30s/early 40s California style. Silk, silk, and more silk, tied up crop tops and wide legged trousers, floppy hats and long scarves flapping along in the California breeze. Karen Black as Faye Greener is not to be missed.