Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Hollywood. Section of the city of Los Angeles that is traditionally regarded as the center of the American film industry. “Hollywood” is not so much a place as it is an idea, and Fitzgerald’s novel is an attempt to understand that idea and give it flesh and form. While the novel provides details of things that characterize Southern California—for example, the primacy of automobiles and the lassitude Stahr notices in those who have lived too long in the climate—there are also social observations peculiar to the film industry. In a subculture obsessed with celebrity and success, nothing is so chilling as the specter of failure, and the ghostly figures of has-beens stalk these pages: Manny Schwartz, a former studio boss who commits suicide; a cameraman mysteriously blacklisted after someone starts a rumor that he is going blind; a faded actress, and Johnny Swanson, a has-been cowboy star. The rarefied few who are successful live in a small, closed world, huddled together against threatening forces from outside.

Stahr’s studio

Stahr’s studio. The film studio is Stahr’s true home, much more so than the house he is having built in Santa Monica or the lonely Bel Air home in which he currently is living. The studio is the place he knows better than any other, where he works and often where he sleeps, as well as the place where he meets Kathleen. Chapter 3 sketches out his typical working day at the studio; it consists of little of the “glamour” typically depicted in old Hollywood films about Hollywood. Instead, it depicts Stahr attending to his business: discussing filmmaking with a discouraged writer, acting as therapist to an impotent actor, holding a story conference with writers and...

(The entire section is 719 words.)