Sometimes there are films that are notably absent from one's viewing history. Sunset Blvd.
has long been one of mine. And I've always known very little about it. The first time I heard the name was possibly with reference to the stage musical, so for many years I thought of it as a musical, and I'm not the world's biggest fan of musicals. But I soon learned that it's not a musical, and I soon learned, too, that the beginning of the film marks the end of the film, and I was intrigued...
I don't give spoilers here, as regular readers know, so I won't say any more about that particular film-making gimmick. I will say, however, that the films tells of a man, Joe Gillis, on the run from people to whom he owes money. He's a screenwriter. To avoid capture, he parks his vehicle in the garage of a big house in Hollywood -- a house that turns out to belong to a former starlet of the silent era, Norma Desmond. The two meet and begin a relationship of sorts: she employs him to write a script for her comeback in which she will play the lead, Salome
; the film will be directed by her friend Cecil B DeMille. While he writes, he can stay at her house, in the room above the garage, and her butler will attend to his needs.
But he falls in love with another man's fiancée while working together on a different script, and Norma is not impressed. Betty is falling for Joe, and he for her. Norma is in a predicament...
Of course, most of the glory belongs to Gloria Swanson, magnificent in her portrayal of Norma Desmond, though male lead William Holden is more than up to the task. And beyond that, it is the masterful direction of Billy Wilder that holds it all together. How many times have you heard someone say, "They don't make 'em like this anymore"? It's true, they don't. I don't feel I'm the sort of guy who's hung up on the past, and yet this film that is more than half a century old kept me rooted to my seat even though I knew how the final reel plays out.
If you haven't seen this yet, waste no more time! Get thee to a video-rental outlet and pick it up now. Better still, buy the DVD, for you'll most certainly want to watch it again and again. It's great fun for fans of David Lynch, too, playing spot the plagiarism! Lynch is reported to have said that INLAND EMPIRE
is his own Sunset Blvd.
, but the latter informs other Lynch works, too.
I give this movie 83 points out of 100
, and I look forward to the next viewing.
Labels: billy wilder, david lynch, gloria swanson, hollywood, inland empire, salome, silent movies, sunset blvd, united states, william holden