The Day of the Locust (1975) - Schlesinger
Waldo Salt (the blacklisted writer of Midnight Cowboy, Coming Home)'s script based on Nathaniel West book from 1939 is a biting satire on Los Angeles. Sleazy faced Tod Hacket (William Atherton) is a lowly set artist at the Paramount studio art dept. He falls in love with his neighbor, a two-bit blond actress Faye (amazing Karen Black in her best role) who lives with her drunk vaudevillian father (Burgess Meredith, showcasing some numbers that are truly cringe worthy). But Faye chooses to live with a mild mannered accountant named, ahem, Homer Simpson (Donald Sutherland playing against type here) 'because he doesn't want anything from me'. The human tragicomedy ensues. Ah, the lovely losers, chasing their hollow dreams in the dream factory.
There are so many great moments throughout- a hanky panky Hollywood party, sexually charged tequila drinking contest, theatrical evangelist stage show, grand Waterloo set disaster, bloody cockfights, and the riot and mayhem at the premiere of Cecil B. DeMille's Buccaneers. The film's visually spectacular- feigning that old soft Hollywood look to the maximum exaggeration, matching its ambitious and crazy script. Its influence on many other films- Magnolia, Short Cuts, Mulholland Dr., etc. are evident. Schlesinger was much edgier filmmaker than Altman ever was.