Based on an old Ben Hecht story, "I Hate Actors!" is a very funny little spoof of Hollywood during the so-called "Golden Age."
The odd twist here is that this is a French film, and it's more than a little disconcerting at first to see all these Hollywood '40s stereotypes speaking French. (This is also a movie that tests your speed-reading skills - it's very talky and therefore loaded with subtitles.)That aside, there are some wonderfully wry moments as a film studio tries to finish its latest romantic action epic - "Sons of Destiny" - which they keep assuring each other will be greater than "Gone With the Wind," but which is unfortunately interrupted by the untimely deaths of several of the film's players during the course of filming.
The story has the film community in an uproar as the murders go unsolved, ultimately with the screenwriter of "Sons of Destiny" teaming up with a newspaper reporter to crack the case. (One very funny bit has the studio head pulling together a room full of mystery writers to try to figure out why the murders are happening.)
But that cursory summary is hardly enough to prepare you for what "I Hate Actors!" has to offer in the way of style, at once sending up and paying homage to Hollywood's heyday.
The film begins with a color prologue, which is the setup for the hilarious epilogue, also in color. But the bulk of the film is in black and white as we meet the characters who populate Ben Hecht's Hollywood.
The ensemble cast includes a number of well-known French actors, with most of the focus on high-powered agent Orlando Higgens (Jean Poiret) and young New York writer Dan Korman (Patrick Floersheim), whose new screenplay, "Sons of Destiny," is about to commence filming. Others who figure prominently are studio head J.B. Cobb (Bernard Blier), clearly patterned after Louis B. Mayer; the film's hyper director Hercule Potnik (Wojtek Pszoniak); the film's stars Dennis Wilde (Yan Epstein), Elvina Bliss (Pauline Lafont) and John Paul Jones (Mike Marshall); and, once the murders begin, the chief investigator (Guy Marchand).
These characters and their knockabout interactions, along with the rapid-fire Howard Hawks-style delivery of their dialogue, make "I Hate Actors!" a charming romp that offers a lot of laughs, especially for film buffs.
"I Hate Actors!" is rated PG for violence and profanity.