Welcome to L.A.

Welcome to L.A. is a 1976 film directed by Alan Rudolph and starring Keith Carradine and an ensemble cast. The film focuses on themes of romantic despair and shallowness in the decadent upper class during the 1970s, illustrated through a La Ronde-like circle of sexual adventures and failed affairs revolving around a womanizing songwriter, his businessman father, and their associates.[1]

Welcome to L.A.
Welcome To LA.jpg
Directed byAlan Rudolph
Produced byRobert Altman
Scott Bushnell
Robert Eggenweiler
Written byAlan Rudolph
StarringKeith Carradine
Geraldine Chaplin
Sally Kellerman
Harvey Keitel
Lauren Hutton
Viveca Lindfors
Sissy Spacek
Denver Pyle
Richard Baskin
James Remar
Music byRichard Baskin
CinematographyDavid Myers
Edited byWilliam A. Sawyer
Tom Walls
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
Running time
106 Min
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Though director Alan Rudolph, a protege of Robert Altman, went on to direct far better and more successful movies, "Welcome to L.A." is considered a failed attempt early in his career.

PlotEdit

Celebrity musician Eric Wood (Richard Baskin) plans to record an album of songs written by Carroll Barber (Carradine), who has been living in England. Carroll's aging manager Susan Moore (Viveca Lindfors) brings Carroll to Los Angeles for the recording sessions, and rents him a house from real estate agent Ann Goode (Sally Kellerman). Ann is unhappily married to furniture store owner Jack Goode (John Considine), who is pursuing their young housemaid, Linda Murray (Sissy Spacek). Linda in turn wants a relationship with her friend Kenneth "Ken" Hood (Harvey Keitel), a married young executive.

Susan expects Carroll to resume a past affair they had, but he rejects her and instead has sex with Ann when she shows him his house. Ann tries unsuccessfully to continue the affair by dropping in on Carroll at home and bringing Linda over to clean. However, Carroll shows himself to be a womanizer, seemingly incapable of connecting with anyone. He visits his wealthy father Carl, whom he has not seen in three years. Carl, with the help of Ken Hood, has built the small Barber family dairy into a major business. Carroll ends up having affairs with receptionist Jeannette (Diahnne Abbott) and his father's photographer mistress Nona (Lauren Hutton).

Ken works long hours at the Barber business and neglects his wife, Karen (Geraldine Chaplin), a housewife and mother who is obsessed with taxi rides and the Greta Garbo film Camille. While Carroll is drinking and driving through the city, he randomly meets Karen and is drawn to her. He takes her to his home but when he tries to romance her, she reveals she is married (though not to whom) and departs. She later leaves him her telephone number, but refuses to take his repeated calls. Linda, who has moved into Carroll's spare room, invites Ken to visit her there, where he meets Ann.

Just before Christmas, Ken is thrilled to learn that Carl has made him partner in the business, but Karen is not happy that he will be spending even more time at work. On Christmas Eve, Ken gets drunk and calls Ann, but their date ends badly as Ken can't stop thinking of his wife. Meanwhile, Jack and Linda spend the evening together, which also ends badly when Linda asks Jack for money. Jack and Ann, both disappointed, return home and have sex with each other.

An angry Susan reveals to Carroll that Eric doesn't like his songs, and that she and Carroll's father bribed Eric to record the album in order to get Carroll to come to Los Angeles. Susan and Carl each hoped to build their separate relationships with Carroll, only to be thwarted by his lack of response. Karen, the only person who seems to have truly piqued Carroll's interest, finally appears at his home, but just as they are about to have sex, Ken telephones, upset and looking for his wife. Upon realizing that Karen is Ken's wife and seems primarily interested in her husband, Carroll leaves while Karen and Ken are reconciling on the phone, just as Linda arrives home. Linda, eavesdropping, hears the voice of Ken, her own crush, on the phone, saying the same things to Karen about relationships that he earlier said to Linda. Linda furtively disconnects the phone, then tries to bond with Karen, who imitates Garbo in Camille. Carroll goes to the recording studio and discovers that Eric Wood has decided not to finish the album.

CastEdit

Critical receptionEdit

Welcome to L.A was widely panned as an empty, vacuous, pretentious film with the music by Richard Baskin deemed especially grating. New York Times critic Richard Eder wrote: "The songs are a particular torment. The music whines, the lyrics complain, and Mr. Carradine sings them with a kind of hushed writhing, like a worm dying at the bottom of a barrel."[2]

John Simon called Welcome to L.A. a dumb and corrupt film.[3]

One of the few critics to support the film at the time was Jack Kroll of Newsweek who described the film as an "extraordinary debut" for Rudolph, continuing that the director "does a remarkable job of weaving this gallery of neurotics into a vivid pattern of sharp, distilled performances." Kroll also considered Rudolph's work with Robert Altman, "he's gone beyond even Altman's example in shaping a film from a total design concept." Furthermore, he praised Rudolph for creating a "Los Angeles that's shimmering Xanadu of psychic uncertainty. Mirrors reassemble people into soulless human collages. The swoosh of Hutton's ever-present Nikon sounds like a little guillotine beheading reality. The quavering cadences of Baskin's music evoke both the sweetness and self-indulgence of Carroll Barber. Cinematographer Dave Myers works like the new realist painters, capturing a metropolis of burnished surfaces that seems to dissolve the will in an amber nullity of light."[4]

The Turner Classic Movies (TCM) capsule review warns, "The music score by Richard Baskin may affect your viewing pleasure."[5] Reviewing the DVD release, one critic described much of the movie as numbing and sleep-inducing "like Altman under anesthesia."[6]

Geraldine Chaplin was nominated for a British Academy Film Award for Best Supporting Actress.[7]

It has also been cited as an example of hyperlink cinema.[8]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Time Out
  2. ^ | https://www.nytimes.com/1977/03/11/archives/screen-welcome-a-look-at-la-life.html
  3. ^ Simon, John (1982). Reverse Angle. Crown Publishers Inc. p. 303.
  4. ^ Kroll, Jack. Slippery City. Newsweek. February 21, 977
  5. ^ https://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/95296/welcome-to-la/#overview
  6. ^ http://cinemasentries.com/review/welcome-to-l.a.-dvd-review-like-altman-under-anesthesia/
  7. ^ Film in 1978|BAFTA Awards
  8. ^ Quart, Alissa (July–August 2005). "Networked". Film Comment. 41 (4): 48–5. Archived from the original on February 3, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2014.

External linksEdit