Friday, February 28, 2014

Sunset Blvd - Movie Review

The classics are on a roll. Billy Wilder's 1950 classic Sunset Blvd is a take on the rich and famous of Hollywood and what happens after they grow old as much as the other extreme, the strugglers of Hollywood. Poignant and disturbing, it could well be true of today.

Struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis is having a tough time selling his ideas to producers. His car financiers are out to seize his car. While avoiding them he hides in an old house on Sunset Boulevard, badly maintained but a mansion that has seen better times. Turns out it is owned by ex-superstar of the silent movie era Norma Desmond, now fifty year old but still living in a fantasy world of a grand comeback. Norma wants the young screenwriter to work on her script. He has nothing better to do so he accepts the offer, the gifts and slowly gets trapped into being Norma's lover. Norma's Man Friday Max is the only other person around the house.

When Gillis wants to break away she slashes her wrists. She gets possessive about Gillis's growing relationship with another young screenwriter Betty. Things get to a head when Norma believes that Paramount Pictures is calling her to discuss her screenplay when all they want is her antique car for a shoot. Meanwhile Gillis is shocked to find out that Max was her first husband and a successful director who launched her and made her successful. Max cannot leave her because he is devoted to her. When Gillis wants to leave, not able to handle Norma destroying his relationship with Betty, Norma shoots him dead. In a brilliant last scene Norma is led away, in a make-believe scene for which she thinks she is shooting, by the police.

Film noir its called. Disturbing through predictable. One cannot forget the characters, the story, and the way it unfolds once you've seen it. Gloria Swanson is brilliant as Norma Desmond. The tag line is fantastic - A Hollywood story. All the makings of a classic.

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