William Atherton as Tod Hackett
Karen Black as Faye Greener
Donald Sutherland as Homer Simpson
Burgess Meredith as Harry Greener
Geraldine Page as Big Sister
Richard A. Dysart as Claude Estee
John Hillerman as Ned Grote
Bo Hopkins as Earle Shoop
Pepe Serna as Miguel
Lelia Goldoni as Mary Dove
Billy Barty as Abe Kusich
Jackie Earle Haley as Adore Loomis
Gloria LeRoy as Mrs. Loomis
Jane Hoffman as Mrs. Odlesh
Norman Leavitt as Mr. Odlesh
Madge Kennedy as Mrs. Johnson
Natalie Schafer as Audrey Jennings
Nita Talbot as Joan
William Castle as the Director
In his review in The New York Times, Vincent Canby called it "less a conventional film than it is a gargantuan panorama, a spectacle that illustrates West's dispassionate prose with a fidelity to detail more often found in a gimcracky Biblical epic than in something that so relentlessly ridicules American civilization... The movie is far from subtle, but it doesn't matter. It seems that much more material was shot than could be easily fitted into the movie, even at 144 minutes... It is reality projected as fantasy. Its grossness — its bigger-than-life quality — is so much a part of its style (and what West was writing about) that one respects the extravagances, the almost lunatic scale on which Mr. Schlesinger has filmed its key sequences."
Jay Cocks of Time said, "The Day of the Locust looks puffy and overdrawn, sounds shrill because it is made with a combination of self-loathing and tenuous moral superiority. This is a movie turned out by the sort of mentality that West was mocking. Salt's adaptation... misses what is most crucial: West's tone of level rage and tilted compassion, his ability to make human even the most grotesque mockery."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called it a "daring, epic film... a brilliant one at times, and with a wealth of sharp-edged performances," citing that of Donald Sutherland as "one of the movie's wonders," although he expressed some reservations, noting, "Somewhere on the way to its final vast metaphors, The Day of the Locust misplaces its concern with its characters. We begin to sense that they're marching around in response to the requirements of the story, instead of leading lives of their own. And so we stop worrying about them, because they're doomed anyway and not always because of their own shortcoming."
In the Chicago Reader, Jonathan Rosenbaum described the film as "a painfully misconceived reduction and simplification... of the great Nathanael West novel about Hollywood... It misses crucial aspects of the book's surrealism and satire, though it has a fair number of compensations if you don't care about what's being ground underfoot - among them, Conrad Hall's cinematography and... one of Donald Sutherland's better performances."
Channel 4 calls it "fascinating, if flawed" and "by turns gaudy, bitter and occasionally just plain weird," adding "great performances and magnificent design make this a spectacular and highly entertaining film."
The film was shown at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival, but wasn't entered into the main competition.
Nominated: Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Burgess Meredith Best Cinematography – Conrad L. Hall
Nominated: Best Motion Picture Actress – Drama – Karen Black Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture – Burgess Meredith
Win: Best Costume Design – Ann Roth
Nominated: Best Supporting Actor – Burgess Meredith Best Art Direction – Richard Macdonald