Hollywood: The Netflix Re-Imagined Golden Age Of Cinema

By Amelia Slater

16th July 2020

Hollywood: The Netflix Re-Imagined Golden Age Of Cinema

Hollywood, Netflix’s reimagined era of the Hollywood ‘Golden Age’ of cinema, carries a very important message for society.

The series, which follows a group of wannabe actors and filmmakers trying to make it in post World War II Hollywood, presents a progressive Golden Age that could have dramatically changed the world.

hollywood

Image Source: /Variety

The impressive ensemble includes: David Corenswet as aspiring actor Jack Castello, Darren Criss as aspiring film director Raymond Ainsley and Laura Harrier as Camille Washington, a black actress who faces prejudice in the industry due to her race.

Behind every character in the narrative lies a poignant story of hardship and determination to ‘make it in the big time’.

The aspiring actors and filmmakers in the series have elements of fiction as well being based on real life Hollywood figures in the post-war cinema era.

*Warning – Spoilers Ahead*

Hollywood Tells The Story Of A Group Of Post-War Actors And Filmmakers Trying To Catch Their Break In The Industry

An aspiring group of filmmakers, who are trying to make their movie ‘Meg’ a reality instead of just pages in a script, end up working at Ernie West’s service station (which functions as a high-end brothel). Let’s just say the service is a lot more intimate than just pumping gas…

The creator and producer Ryan Murphy, who also produced the documentary The People v. O.J. Simpson about Robert Kardashian (the father to Kim, Rob, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian), told Collider:

‘We got to the idea, well, what if somebody had been brave enough to make this movie in the late ’40s and it won all these Oscars, and all of these people who before were marginalized were suddenly the heroes and heroines of their story. Would that have changed, not just my life in what I had seen growing up but everybody else’s?’

Hollywood cast

Image Source: /Hollywood Reporter

‘…And I came to the conclusion, it probably would have because we would have been 50 years ahead of the curve in terms of women’s rights and gay rights and a black woman winning an Oscar. I think it would have had a profound effect.’

The Show Pulls Back The Shiny Curtain Of The Golden Age Era To Reveal The Sex And Sleaze Behind It

Hollywood not only captures the essence of the Golden Age era but also the reality that it definitely wasn’t as shiny and perfect as it appeared on screen.

The era of classical cinema was also an era of sexism, racism and homophobia. Many aspiring actors and filmmakers quite literally would ‘sleep their way to the top’, be unable to be their true selves in public due to societal prejudice, or even be given the opportunity to shine in the first place.

Hollywood highlights what the Golden Age should have looked like, had production companies been willing to ‘take the leap’ to progress and better the world.

 

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Laura Harrier At The 2018 Cannes Film Festival

Laura Harrier, who previously starred in BlacKkKlansman, appeared on the red carpet at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, alongside other famous faces including: Adrien Brody, Pierce Brosnan and Pierce Brosnan’s wife Keely Shaye Smith.

laura harrier cannes film festival

Image Source: /Twitter @TheFashionCourt

Meet The Characters

Behind every character in the narrative lies a poignant story of hardship and determination to ‘make it in the big time’…

Jack Castello

Jack Castello (David Corenswet) is a World War II veteran who hopes to become a Hollywood movie star. With his classical good looks, he hopes that he will one day be given his shot by Ace Studios; a fictionalised Hollywood studio based off an amalgamation of major production companies such as Universal Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

jack castello

Image Source: /Refinery29

Raymond Ainsley

Raymond Ainsley (Darren Criss), a half-Filipino aspiring film director, wants to push the boundaries when it comes to the ‘norm’ for cinema.

He is also the boyfriend of Camille Washington, a black woman who dreams of being a movie star.

raymond ainsley

Image Source: /Popsugar

Camille Washington

Camille Washington (Laura Harrier) is a beautiful black woman who aspires to become a Hollywood actress. However, she struggles to land the roles she truly desires due to the prejudice against the colour of her skin.

The series aims to show the progressive nature of what would happen had Hollywood casted a person of colour in the leading role of a movie, something completely unheard of at the time.

Camille is cast as the leading lady of the movie ‘Peg’ (that is later changed to ‘Meg’), Ace Pictures fights to push the Golden Age of Cinema – and the world – forward.

camille washington

Image Source: /Hollywood Wiki Hollywood Wiki – Fandom

Archie Coleman

Archie Coleman (Jeremy Pope), a black gay screenwriter, writes and sends Ace Pictures the script ‘Peg’, an adapted story about a real life woman named Peg Entwistle who took her own life by jumping off the Hollywood sign.

Living in a racist society filled with prejudice means that Archie, like Camille Washington, is not given the opportunity to enter the spotlight in spite of his talent.

Not only does Archie face racism but he also has to hide his sexuality from the world as a gay man. Whilst working on ‘Peg’ that later becomes ‘Meg’, he begins a secret relationship with white aspiring actor Rock Hudson.

archie coleman

Image Source: /Instagram @hollywoodnetflx

Roy Fitzgerald A.K.A. Rock Hudson

Roy Fitzgerald (Jake Picking), a bumbling unknown actor, gets his foot in the Hollywood door after he is signed by agent Henry Willson.

Roy, a closeted homosexual man, finds himself subjected to sexual coercion by Henry in exchange for acting opportunities and favours.

Rebranded with the stage name ‘Rock Hudson’, Roy begins secretly dating Archie Coleman after the pair meet at the gas station, where Archie is employed as a sex worker.

The character is based on real-life actor Rock Hudson.

rock hudson

Image Source: /Harper’s Bazaar

Ernie West

Ernie West (Dylan McDermott), the suave service station manager and pimp to a group of male sex workers, disguises his business as a gas station. He recruits a number of ‘good-looking’ aspiring actors and filmmakers who will stop at nothing to make it in the film industry.

An aspiring actor himself, Ernie long ago gave up on his dream. Later, however, he seizes the opportunity to showcase his true talents.

Ernie West is based on real life Hollywood pimp Scotty Bowers.

Image Source: /Rolling Stone

Dick Samuels

Studio executive Richard ‘Dick’ Samuels (Joe Mantello), who is also a closeted gay man, is the driving force behind ‘Meg’.

He helps to manage and fund the project through Ace Pictures.

dick samuels

Image Source: /Pinterest

Ellen Kincaid

Ellen (Holland Taylor) is a studio executive for Ace Studios who works closely beside Dick Samuels. At one point, she declares her romantic feelings for him.

Alongside Dick, the pair work together to push for the production ofMeg’. They are an unstoppable force, in spite of the backlash.

ellen kincaid

Image Source: /Refinery29

Avis Amberg

Avis Amberg (Patti LuPone) is the wife of the head of Ace Studios. The matriarch takes charge of Ace Studios when her husband suffers a heart attack and succumbs to a coma.

Avis is finally given the opportunity to be an executive and not just a housewife. She helps the team to create the production of ‘Meg’, becoming the only woman at the time to take charge of a company.

avis amberg

Image Source: /FanSided

Claire Wood

Blonde, beautiful and thin, Claire Wood (Samara Weaving) is the epitome of the Golden Age leading lady…but not in this story!

Claire is the spoiled daughter of Ace Studios executives Ace and Avis Amberg. Unfortunately for her, her privileged upbringing doesn’t give her the boost she was hoping for.

Still, she dreams of the spotlight.

claire wood

Image Source: /Popsugar

Henry Willson

Henry Willson (Jim Parsons), the slimy agent of Rock Hudson, acts as a sexual predator in the series. He manages to redeem himself marginally at the end when he proposes to create a romantic movie about two men.

The character is based on real life gay talent Agent Henry Willson, whose clients included Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter.

He was responsible for advancing many prominent male stars of the Golden Age era with the 1950s ‘beefcake’ craze. The agent cashed in on the good looks of his clients. He also had sexual relations with some of them.

henry willson

Image Source: /Decider

Hollywood Is Available To Stream On Netflix

hollywood camille

Image Source: /Twitter @whitfiks

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