The cover of this DVD shows James Dean, Sal Mineo, and Natalie Wood, the doomed cast of Rebel Without A Cause. Their collective story is a fascinating one for those interested in the dark side of Hollywood. All three came to tragic, and untimely ends after starring in the iconic film. And that is only the beginning of Hollywood: The Dark Side – Death & Scandal.
There are a ridiculous number of shocking and horrific tales contained in this DVD, a sequel to Hollywood: The Dark Side – Frank Sinatra & Marilyn Monroe. For those of us with a taste for the sordid, it is a veritable smorgasbord. Take the Bob Crane segment for example. Washed up after Hogan’s Heroes, Crane began playing supper clubs, and picking up women with rock star abandon. He and his partner in crime would then videotape their exploits, long before such activity became commonplace. The friend began to resent Crane’s success with the ladies, and allegedly bludgeoned him to death in a fit of jealous rage.
For those interested in prehistoric Hollywood dirt, there is the story of Fatty Arbuckle, a huge star in the Silent Movie era. After inviting a couple of prostitutes to a typically debauched shindig, one of them wound up dead on his yacht. The medical report said it was of natural causes, but Arbuckle was tried for murder anyway, and eventually acquitted. The damage was done to his life and career however, and he never recovered.
Just about every notable Hollywood death is covered here, and many less than renowned ones as well. Rounding this DVD out is the bonus feature, "Rock ‘N’ Roll Deaths." This segment manages to squeeze a whole host of musical tragedies into its short length. The research was not quite as comprehensive in this section though, as Elvis’s year of demise is given as 1972, rather than 1977. And they repeat the urban myth that Mama Cass died choking on a ham sandwich, rather than the actual heart attack that took her.
Still, this bit of chicanery fits well with the original tabloid credo: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” Hollywood: The Dark Side – Death & Scandal is a great DVD for tabloid addicts such as myself.