Sunday, January 9, 2022

365 Days: #9 Sunset Blvd. (1950)

It seemed only natural to follow up The Bad and the Beautiful with Sunset Blvd. It's been quite a few years since I've seen this movie, and it was largely responsible for starting me off on collecting silent films, as it inspired me to seek out movies with Gloria Swanson and Erich von Stroheim. 

#9 Sunset Blvd.

A down and out screenwriter gets drawn in to becoming the companion of a movie star from the silent era, who is planning a return to the silver screen. He gets more than he bargained for when he decides to give up on screenwriting and move back to his home in Ohio.

"It's lonely here, so she got herself a companion. A very simple setup. An older woman who is well-to-do. A younger man who's not doing too well."

I really enjoy this movie, especially the descriptions from Joe Gillis in his narration, which would seem to portray him as a talented writer, leading us to believe that his lack of success shows that it's not easy to get started in Hollywood. This movie accepts that there's no place in Hollywood films for aging female stars, a theme that was also explored in The Twilight Zone episode, "The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine." The movie itself exemplifies that crazy characters were the only roles available to middle aged stars at the time, which may have been the beginning of the hagsploitation genre

"It was a great, big, white elephant of a place. The kind crazy movie people built in the crazy 20s. A neglected house gets an unhappy look. This one had it in spades. It was like that old woman in Great Expectations, that Miss Havershim in her rotting wedding dress and her torn veil, taking it out on the world because she'd been given the go by."

"There's nothing tragic about being 50, not unless you try to be 25."

"Two or three times a week, Max would haul up that enormous oil painting that had been presented to her by some Nevada Chamber of Commerce and we'd see a movie right in her living room. So much nicer than going out, she'd say. The plain fact was she was afraid of that world outside. Afraid it would remind her that time had passed."

"I didn't argue with her. You don't yell at a sleepwalker. He may fall and break his neck. That's it. She was still sleepwalking along the giddy heights of a lost career. Plain crazy when it came to that one subject, her celluloid self, the great Norma Desmond. How could she breathe in that house so crowded with Norma Desmonds, more Norma Desmonds, and still more Norma Desmonds?"

"There's nothing else. Just us and the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark."

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