With a cynically acidic script by Herman J Mankiewicz, among others, this early talkie is one of the most enjoyably scabrous examples of Hollywood on Hollywood. Veteran airmen from World War I, desperate for work, get jobs as stuntmen on a movie (cue for some fine aerial photography), but they don't reckon with their director, an egotistical and obsessive (not to mention homicidally jealous) tyrant who'll stop at nothing in his desire to make a great film. Von Stroheim was perfect for the part: not only does he have a whale of a time strutting around in jodhpurs, snapping his whip and snarling through the megaphone, the role is also wonderfully reminiscent of his own reputed past as a sadistically cruel and inspired film-maker.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Wallace Smith, Herman J Mankiewicz, Horace Jackson, Robert S Presnell|
Erich von Stroheim