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CAMP HOLLYWOOD (TV) (director/writer: Steve Markle; editor: Steve Markle; cast: Steve Markle (Stand-up Comedian), Roy Dotrice (British Actor), Kay Dotice (British Actress), Polly Shannon (Actress), Ryan Belleville (Actor), Maury Chaykin (Actor), Mark Margolis (Actor), Laura Jordan (Actress), Gary Indiana (Author), Malin Akerman (Actress), Daven Siltanen (Bank Robber/actor), Harrold Themmen (Clarinetist), Dena Morehouse (Marilyn Monroe Impersonator), David Julian Hirsh (Actor), Brooke Nevin (Actress), Clim Jackson (Actor), Leo Howard (Front Desk); Runtime: 72; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: David Julian Hirsh/Steve Markle; Sundance; 2004-Canada)
“Tells it the way it really is for the wannabes trying to make a career in Hollywood.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Steve Markle is an aspiring stand-up comedian who has come to Hollywood for the first time to follow his dream and stays for two-months at a celebrated actors’ residence called the Highland Gardens hotel (Janis Joplin once stayed here) that has a rep as a wild party place. Here he films the hotel’s eccentric guests who are either aspiring actors, artists taking a break or transients, as they frolic by the pool, go on auditions and engage in personal relationships. Steve follows the daily grind of the pretty Brooke Nevin, who lands a part in a soap but before her show is aired the program gets chopped because of ratings. Harrold Themmen is a retired 69-year-old clarinetist who performed at ballets with his classical orchestra, but who has been depressed since his wife’s illness and takes comfort in being around other artists and has become a popular figure at the hotel. Dena Morehouse dresses as Marilyn Monroe and greets tourists on Hollywood Boulevard, and when noticeably pregnant moves out of the residence to live with her boyfriend. David Julian Hirsh is up for a part in a serial that pays $30,000 a episode, but is crushed as at the last minute the part is given to someone else. Daven Siltanen has a long history as a criminal and stays in prison, who now aspires to be an actor. Roy Dotrice is a Shakespearean actor, who wants to take a break from theater to do TV. Gary Indiana is a recluse who just finished a novel and drops in for a brief stay, but makes no contact with others. Polly Shannon is a pretty young actress whose friendliness during auditions is misinterpreted by older casting types who hit on her and try to convince her there’s a part waiting for a sexual favor. Every guest has a story to tell, and the filmmaker spins their tales showing them to be brave souls taking a risk to live a life that’s not ordinary.

It’s all seen through the sympathetic eyes of Steve Markle, who is in the same boat as the others and is thereby able to paint this intimate eye-opening picture with much feeling that tells it the way it really is for the wannabes trying to make a career in Hollywood. It’s a struggle that takes a special person to want to subject themselves to these trials and tribulations. The documentary might prove to be inspirational for those aspiring actors who want to see what awaits them in Hollywood.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”