ANGEL CITY (director/writer/cinematographer/editor: Jon Jost; cinematographer: Robert J. Schoenhut; cast: Bob Glaudini (Frank Goya), Winifred Golden (Gloria), Pierce Del Rue (Pierce), Kathleen Kramer (Bunny); Runtime: 75; Facets Video; 1976)
“It was a flawed film but interesting enough to not be ignored…”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Indie filmmaker Jon Jost’s film cost him a whopping $6,000 to make, as he tackles the private eye genre by making a metaphysical spoof of Los Angeles and of the typical gumshoe case his hero is working on involving sex, money, and death. Frank Goya (Glaudini) is a second-rate shamus, who has a philosophy that entails studying photos and figuring out what the story is in those pictures. The root of the word story, he tells us, comes from the Latin and Greek and means studying–to know. He works mostly on divorce cases by studying the photos; and, he gets this highly publicized case when he’s hired by the tycoon Pierce Del Rue, who is the owner of a mega-energy corporation Rexon. His starlet wife Gloria was found dead by their pool. Del Rue hires Goya because he doesn’t think he’s competent to discover what really happened, and he could thereby show the authorities he really wants to get to the bottom of the death — which the police call accidental but the newspapers call suspicious.
Gloria was born to middle-class parents, was a high school cheerleader, and then later on became a Plaything centerfold. The wealthy Del Rue discovered her through that exposure and got her a seven million dollar movie contract and she became his trophy wife. But her first feature was a bomb, and according to Goya men like Del Rue know how to get out of bad deals by fixing things.
The film’s funniest scene has Gloria acting the movie part of Leni Riefenstahl. It shows Leni when the Nazi-lover is overcome with passion that Adolph has chosen her to be the artistic filmmaker for the fatherland, and she also thinks as he touches her leg that he wants her to father his child.
Goya’s investigation takes him to Los Angeles, where he breaks down the facts about the city of pleasure, crime, and industry. Its population of 7 million consists of 5 million whites, 1 million Hispanics, 1/2 million blacks, and the rest of the population is made up of Orientals, Native Americans, and others. There are 2 or 3 murders a day, 172 car thefts, 70,150 abortions per year, and 5 1/2 million telephones in households. Goya attributes her murder to the ill-effects of capitalism and the illusionary life she was leading as an aspiring starlet.
In a bar she hung out before going Hollywood, Goya finds out how Gloria liked kinky sex. From her best friend Bunny, he learns that Del Rue was also having an affair with her and that Gloria knew that.
The film’s theme is captured in twelve titled chapters, with obscure philosophical titles such as Wholeness. It results in a satire on the private eye genre and a film that is very different from the usual mainstream macho investigator films. It was a flawed film but interesting enough to not be ignored, as its narrative was spiced up with discordant comments that were at times quite amusing.
REVIEWED ON 1/16/2002 GRADE: C +
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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