Friday, September 08, 2006

The Official Crimefile Review Of Hollywoodland

It’s a tragic tale of an actor in Hollywood in the 1950’s. George Reeves was the star of the hugely popular Adventures of Superman. Reeves was a serious actor who knew taking such a role could terminally typecast him. Reeves was killed in his home at 1579 Benedict Canyon Drive, Beverly Hills on June 16, 1959 from a gun shot wound to his head. The death was ruled a suicide.

Reeves is special to me because as a five year old I’d rush next door to a lucky playmate’s apartment who had a TV set to watch this exciting series. At five, I found George Reeves to be a real hero and Noel Neil to be the girl of my dreams when she played Lois Lane. I was a fifth grader when I learned of Reeves death. Every kid I knew was saddened by Reeves untimely death.

The Hollywood of the 1950’s is really not much different than today’s Hollywood. Powerful people change lives for better or worse every day. Hollywood has its dark side. Making films is sometimes a cutthroat business. Hollywood is a place where dreams come true, sometimes.

Hollywood is never fond to make films about its insiders and it's understandable why it took 50 years to tell the story. The story telling was done well by Paul Bernbaum’s screenplay along with great directing by Allen Coulter. The complex life of Reeves and the other people at the forefront of this story were fully fleshed out.

Because of the mystery of Reeves' death his mother, played by Lois Smith wanted to get to the bottom of rumors of murder. She hired an imperfect PI in and imperfect world to solve the case. The PI in real life was Jerry Geisler. The PI’s name was changed and Oscar winner Adrien Brody who was convincing played the composite character, Louis Simo who to me (I’m a licensed Hollywood PI) was the real deal. Diane Lane was a winner as Reeve’s married girlfriend, Toni Mannix, and Ben Affleck really pulled off his part playing the doomed George Reeves. The cast has no slackers anywhere. This is a must see movie for any George Reeves or Superman fan.

I feel compelled to give you my professional opinion; George Reeves killed himself while under the influence of America’s number one killer, alcohol. The questions raised by the conspiracy buffs are without merit. The main issue surrounds the lack of fingerprints on the handgun used. In real life handguns involved in shootings rarely yield usable prints. The sad truth is that the death of George Reeves was a real loss.

I say go see this thought provoking film, you’ll get your money’s worth.

Here is an article on Reeves that seems to shed a little light on the real story.

The Move trailer is here

7 comments:

paulg said...

hello,

good article...anything on george is worth reading.... yes, the high content of alcohol and painkillers in his system could point to suicide but it also made him an easy mark for murder..... 45 minutes supposedly past before the police were called (plenty of time to alter a crime scene). also additional bullet holes were found in his room. the LAPD botched the investigation; people at the house were never questioned again, no fingerprints or parrafin tests were performed on george, or anyone at the house).

Crimefile said...

Classifiable fingerprints found on handguns are very rare. The gun belonged to George Reeves so if his prints were somehow found on the gun they’d be meaningless.

Paraffin tests are also meaningless where a person handles firearms. The sometimes can eliminate suspects provided they did not have a chance to thoroughly wash and dry their hands.

I don’t get too excited about bullet holes in some gun owners home unless the bullets are recovered and have the victim’s blood or tissue on them. We will never know when they happened. How old was that house before George Reeves died in it?

Could it have been murder? Sure. Was it murder? I don’t think so.

paulg said...

what about the possibility of an accidental shooting by his fiance? yes a bullet wound to the temple and powder burns inside the head, means shot at close range - most likely suicide BUT! it doesn't mean george held the gun. lenore (the lemmon) his fiance had juvenile fits and was also just was drunk that night. the police never checked her clothes or hands for blood or gunpowder residue.

back in the 1950's if the police showed up at a crime scene they tended to believe a womans story as long as she cried (detectives and forensics are smarter today, i hope)

also, there was no suicide note, george was considered an upbeat person. he was also found in the nude (odd that a nude man at a party would kill himself). he was nude because he knew his killer, possibly lenore. also, if you are familiar with gene lebell (a hollywood wrestler and georges friend). he stated that he saw five bullet holes in georges room, not two. i doubt that the official police reports are even accurate, as all we have is lenore's statements. i believe he was killed possibly around 11 pm and 2 or 3 hours went by to alter the crime scene. thanks for responding

Crimefile said...

Police evidence gathering and the tools in 1957 were not all that good. There has been a bunch of theories floated on this case however the evidence that we know about supports none of them.

Bullet holes in the Reeves home are meaningless unless you can somehow document when there were made. Of course blood or tissue on the bullet would have meaning if they can match it to the victim.

The only thing we know for sure is Reeves was drinking the night he died.

The emotional state of the players is also meaningless since there are loads of emotional people that never kill or injure anyone.

There's no shortage of theories in this case. The real problem with cases like the Reeves case, dead men can’t talk. He can’t tell us what happened and we can’t arrest people on a guess.

The fact that Reeves was under the influence opens three possibilities.

1. He was playing around with the gun and had an accident.
2. He was playing around with another person and had an accident.
3. He became depressed under the influence and it was suicide.

Could Reeves have been murdered? I don’t really see a strong enough motive for anyone to kill Reeves.

I doubt that if another person were involved in an accidental shooting they would have wanted to confess that and risk prison. Pure accidents are never a crime.

Anonymous said...

part of the problem with George's case is "acceptance." Like the 5 year old kid who ran home after school in the 1950s, there were kids in the 1970s who ran home to watch reruns. Hard to accept George Reeves death - be it murder, accident or suicide. But yet there is something "not right" with the official findings. In the police reports, his fiance, states or predicts "he will probably go upstairs and shoot himself." Also, that he argued with a late night guest. Years later she changed both stories saying there was no argument and never predicted that.

Two witnesses in the house were later verified to be staying (an illicit affair) in the guest bedroom and not in the living room. But I can never figure why they would lie or cover for the fiance. Attorney Jerry Geisler persuaded Georges mom to drop the case because high level people were involved, he never said who. This is not speculation, these are questions that should have been answered or addressed, on that night in June 1959. We can accept suicide with understanding and compassion, we can't accept lack of truth or justice. paulg..

Crimefile said...

I never wanted to believe that George Reeves had a drinking problem or would have killed himself by accident or on purpose. Anytime there is such a tragedy our human condition wants to find fault other than from the victim.

George Reeves’ passing was a horrible shame. It changed the lives of his wonderful co-stars that could have come back for a few more seasons. Reeves was missed by millions of his fans just like me.

Of all the actors that wore that silly Superman getup George Reeves was the real Superman.

The sad truth is that our country has lost that zeal to promote, “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”

paulg said...

what do you make of the fact, they waited 30-45 minutes (if not longer) to call the police? I suppose they waited due to the late hour and the shock but any decent person would have called an ambulance IMMEDIATELY. Don't the police treat every dead person as a homicide case first, even in 1959?

Isn't it odd the coroner did not check george's hands for powder burns? or was this not common practice in 1959?

I know caller ID didn't exist back then but no one ever investigated phone calls and to and from george's house that night or previous nights.

Isn't it odd that neither of the women, Lenore or Toni Mannix attended his funeral? Lenore even went back in the house a day later to try and steal the $5000 dollars in travelers checks allotted for a trip to Mexico. FYI: this trip was not a honeymoon, it was a Superman publicity tour. Lenore claimed to be his fiance, which is one reason they may have fought that night. Calling off a wedding or engagement could have enraged lenore to kill george.

Another problem with this case is that everyone involved is gone. There's no one left to take a lie detector test or even come under the pressure of the media.

It is possible Lenore shot George and it was covered up by Eddie Mannix to protect the name of Hollywood. An open and shut suicide is less publicity than a Hollywood Trial.