Griffin Mill, second in command at a top Hollywood film studio, has a few problems. Now that he has reached his early thirties, he is beginning to lose his golden-boy luster. The studio head, whom Mill thought he would replace, has just hired another whiz kid who may push Mill out of his job. A year ago his secretary logged 295 telephone calls in three days; this year he is down to 211. He is also receiving threatening postcards from a scriptwriter whom he brushed off at a story conference months before. The last card bears the message, “I am going to kill you.”
How Mill fights back is the story of THE PLAYER, and as he makes his way from the Polo Lounge to Pasadena to the boardrooms of Century City, he proves himself a consummate player of the Hollywood game. As author Michael Tolkin paints it, the film industry is like high stakes poker: The biggest winners are often the biggest bluffers. The best players, he hints, can even get away with murder.
Tolkin is a struggling scriptwriter himself. Much of the fun of THE PLAYER is to be found in his witty descriptions of the put-off ploys and power-lunch politics that he knows from his own fight to get ahead in Hollywood. THE PLAYER could make an excellent film and Tolkin even introduces, as part of his plot, two scenarios that might someday be box-office smashes. THE PLAYER has the gleam of a brand-new release but the guts of an old-time James Cain classic. THE PLAYER is film noir in neon.