Inserts (1975)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Satire, Showbiz Comedy  |   Run Time - 115 min.  |   Countries - UK  |   MPAA Rating - NC17
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Like Day of the Locust, Inserts is a dark meditation on the underbelly of classic Hollywood and how the hunger for fame can corrupt those who possess it. However, Inserts is a much simpler, more claustrophobic affair: there are only five characters and the entire film is confined to the large parlor of a rundown Hollywood home. Thus, Inserts is often dismissed as being little more than a filmed play but such an observation is off the mark. Firstly, the simplicity of the film is a conscious design: John Byrum's witty, acidic script streamlines the story aspect to push the characters and dialogue to the fore. The actors really spark to the offbeat, multidimensional characters and deliver amazing performances. Richard Dreyfuss is by turns brooding and fiery as the obsessive Boy Wonder and Jessica Harper matches him moment for moment with a gutsy, revealing performance as the woman trying to get in his mind. The remaining trio of actors provides excellent support: Bob Hoskins pumps up '30s-style gangster actor mannerisms with modern method-actor intensity as the story's vice kingpin, while Stephen Davies and Veronica Cartwright bare all both emotionally and physically to turn their characters into memorable examples of Hollywood's wasted promise. As a director, Byrum keeps things basic but stylish as he uses the occasional slick camera move to underscore the dramatic staging of key scenes. Ultimately, Inserts is a film for a limited audience (Hollywood history buffs who can handle that subject's darker side) but its mixture of searing drama and vicious humor makes it worthwhile for the brave viewer.