Promotional film poster
|Directed by||Stuart Rosenberg|
|Produced by||Paul Newman|
|Screenplay by||Robert Stone|
|Based on||A Hall of Mirrors|
by Robert Stone
|Music by||Lalo Schifrin|
|Edited by||Bob Wyman|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
WUSA is a 1970 American drama film directed by Stuart Rosenberg and starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Anthony Perkins, Laurence Harvey, Cloris Leachman and Wayne Rogers. It was written by Robert Stone, based on his 1967 novel A Hall of Mirrors. The story involves a radio station in New Orleans with the eponymous call sign which is apparently involved in a right-wing conspiracy. It culminates with a riot and stampede at a patriotic pep-rally when an assassin on a catwalk opens fire.
Rheinhardt, a cynical drifter, gets a job as an announcer for a conservative talk radio station, WUSA in New Orleans. Rheinhardt is content to parrot WUSA's reactionary editorial stance on the air, even if he does not agree with it. Rheinhardt finds his cynical detachment challenged by a woman he meets in a bar, Geraldine, and by Rainey, a neighbor and troubled idealist who becomes aware of WUSA's sinister, hidden purpose. And when events start spinning out of control, even Rheinhardt finds he must take a stand.
Bingamon, the station's owner, is sponsoring a white-supremacist hate rally that draws a protest from black militants. Rainey attempts to assassinate Bingamon, but after he misses and accidentally wounds someone else, Rainey is attacked by the crowd and beaten to death. In the chaos, drugs end up in the possession of Geraldine, who is arrested by the police and later hangs herself in the jail cell. A disillusioned Reinhardt packs his bags and leaves town.
- Paul Newman as Rheinhardt
- Joanne Woodward as Geraldine
- Anthony Perkins as Rainey
- Laurence Harvey as Farley
- Pat Hingle as Bingamon
- Don Gordon as Bogdanovich
- Michael Anderson, Jr. as Marvin
- Leigh French as Girl
- Bruce Cabot as King Wolyoe
- Cloris Leachman as Philomene
- Moses Gunn as Clotho
- Wayne Rogers as Minter
- Robert Quarry as Noonan
- Skip Young as Rep. Jimmy Snipe
- B.J. Mason as Roosevelt Berry
- Sahdji as Hollywood
- Geoffrey Edwards as Irving, Disc Jockey
- Hal Baylor as Shorty
- Clifton James as Speed, Sailor in Bar
- Tol Avery as Senator
- Paul Hampton as Rusty Fargo
- Jerry Catron as Sidewinder Bates
- Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Anthony Perkins was nominated for best supporting actor of the year by the National Society of Film Critics.
In the 1970s Paul Newman called it "the most significant film I've ever made and the best."
Roger Greenspun, reviewing the film for The New York Times, wrote: "If it were an ordinary bad movie (and it is a very bad movie), WUSA might, in spite of the distinguished names, and less distinguished presence, of its leading actors, be dismissed with no more than a nod to the tension between Rosenberg's ponderously emphatic direction, and Robert Stone's ponderously allusive screenplay. I suspect Stone wins out, for WUSA feels more like poor theater than poor moviemaking—so, that it continually suggests a failed version of The Balcony, even though it strives to fall short of The Manchurian Candidate...Despite its obsession with collecting evidence, and its handy school of pseudo-documentary, WUSA fights unreal battles with an unseen enemy. Lacking either the grace of art or the vitality of guerrilla theater, it can offer only the coarsest nourishment—and only to the elaborately self-deceived."