Miles Calman is a Hollywood director who commands a high level of respect in the industry. The narrator explains that he ‘‘was the only director on the lot who did not work under a supervisor and was responsible to the money men alone.’’ The films he directs are those he considers worthy of his artistic vision, and he is known for being uncompromising. Still, he is depicted as having problems and frailties: He has been carrying on a lengthy affair with another woman (after cheating on his first wife with Stella); he is ‘‘tall, nervous, with a desperate humor and the unhappiest eyes Joel ever saw,’’ and ‘‘one could not be with him long without realizing that he was not a well man.’’
For all his success in his career, Miles is basically insecure. He is jealous of Stella to the point of being hypocritical. He makes excuses for his inability to stop seeing his mistress altogether, yet he cannot think of Stella going to a party with Joel. In all likelihood, it is his insecurity that leads him to seek female attention and admiration in affairs.
Stella Calman is Miles’s young, beautiful wife. She knew Joel when she was a struggling actress (Stella Walker) in New York. Reunited, she finds herself attracted to Joel for reasons she does not fully understand. She seems to enjoy her ability to capture his attention, but she also seems to sense a certain kinship with him. Perhaps she feels out of her element among the Hollywood elite, and she associates Joel with her past.
When Stella discovers Miles’s affair, however, she seems determined to find in Joel...
(The entire section is 678 words.)