Friday, November 12, 2010

Classic Movie of the Week: Sunset Boulevard (1950)

So I was watching this crazy awesome never-finished silent movie called Queen Kelly during break (a main character wears a cat - and only a cat - for a good portion of the film, so I definitely recommend it) and I couldn’t help thinking about Sunset Boulevard. Queen Kelly stars Gloria Swanson, one of the most famous silent film actresses, who had basically disappeared from the big screen when she starred in Sunset Boulevard 21 years later.

Norma Desmond, Gloria’s character in Sunset Boulevard, is in a very similar situation. She is a former silent film star who has passed her prime and lives shut up in her mansion on Sunset Boulevard. Norma is not mentally stable and believes she is as great a star as she used to be. One day, Joe Gillis (William Holden), a struggling screenwriter, ends up at Norma’s mansion in an attempt to evade his creditors. She lures him into her life and eventually into her bed. The more Joe becomes a part of this woman’s life, the more he realizes the horrible situation he has gotten himself into. And there doesn’t seem to be a way for him to escape unscathed…

Billy Wilder directs this piece just as masterfully as The Apartment. And William Holden is handsome and sympathetic as Joe. The real star of the film, however, is Gloria Swanson, whose portrayal of the creepy, but captivating Norma Desmond will remain with you long after you watch the film. Most likely showing up in your most disturbing dreams…

The trailer exists here.

Side Note: Erich von Stroheim, who plays Gloria’s super sketch butler/ex-husband, was the director of Queen Kelly. His career as a director was ruined after that movie because he made it so expensive and outrageous that the film could not be finished. I guess cats are very costly garments…

Sunset Boulevard can be obtained through the Humanities Resource Center and Netflix.

-Lolita De Palma '14

1 comment:

Douglas said...

For those folks who've made it to Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, decide how/if the exterior of the Tower of Terror was inspired by this film.