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Set in 1930s Hollywood, this stagebound drama, which was rated X on its initial release, opened six months after Richard Dreyfuss's star-making turn in JAWS and sank without a trace. Dreyfuss plays the "Boy Wonder," once a successful silent film director undone by the coming of sound. He's reduced to shooting stag pictures, is sexually impotent, agorophobic...read more

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Set in 1930s Hollywood, this stagebound drama, which was rated X on its initial release, opened six months after Richard Dreyfuss's star-making turn in JAWS and sank without a trace. Dreyfuss plays the "Boy Wonder," once a successful silent film director undone by the coming of sound. He's

reduced to shooting stag pictures, is sexually impotent, agorophobic and soon to be homeless: His decaying mansion — the film's sole set — is due to be demolished to make way for a freeway. Boy Wonder's regular stars are the pathetic Harlene (Veronica Cartwright), a legitimate actress

reduced to porn by her drug habit, and the handsome but dimwitted Rex (Stephen Davies), who's convinced that one day he'll be a big star. Boy Wonder's money man, a bullying bootlegger named Big Mac (Bob Hoskins), pays an unannounced visit just in time for Harlene's inevitable overdose. He and Rex

immediately set about disposing of Harlene's body, leaving Boy Wonder behind with Mac's ambitious girlfriend, Cathy (Jessica Harper). Cathy poses for a series of insert shots for the unfinished movie, which cures Boy Wonder of his performance problems but enrages Mac, who hustles her out of the

house. Boy Wonder is left alone, ignoring the entreaties of an unknown young actor named Clark Gable, who's at the door insisting that he could be a big star if only Boy Wonder would come back and direct him. Released at the height of the porno chic era, this film is nowhere near so explicit as

the rating would suggest, and features a remarkable cast of the soon-to-be famous. &#151 Maitland McDonagh

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