Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday Similar Subjects

Welcome to a weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. After spending a number of weeks looking at actors who tend to play the same characters, it’s time to spotlight two films with eerily similar plots that came out at roughly the same time. There are surprisingly more examples than might be obvious, and this series will examine the similarities and differences between the two, and how their simultaneous releases affected each other.

Hollywoodland / The Black Dahlia

Release dates: September 8, 2006 / September 15, 2006

The similarities: Both films, which were based on true events, followed curious people as they pried into uncertain, highly publicized deaths of actors in the 1940s and 1950s, respectively, discovering much more at play than publicized. Both were melodramatic, bleak portraits of Hollywood in the middle of the century.

The differences: The former featured one solo detective, played by Adrien Brody, looking into the alleged suicide of actor George Reeves, played by Ben Affleck. The latter had a dynamic duo, Aaron Eckhart and Josh Harnett, investigating the murder of a young woman, played by Mia Kirshner. The former had more to do with a major cover-up, while the latter featured a bunch of seriously crazy people.

The releases: Neither film performed spectacularly, though the former managed to make just a bit more than its budget domestically ($14 million), while the latter barely made its budget with all of its international profits ($49 million). The former was decently well-received by critics, while the latter garnered less favorable reviews. Ben Affleck scored a Golden Globe nomination for the former, while the latter netted an Oscar nod for Best Cinematography.

Which one is more likely to be remembered? I saw both during the first month of my freshman year of college in New York. I remember the former as an underrated and highly compelling thriller, while the former was an awful, deranged mess much like many of its characters. I’m not sure that many people remember either one.

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