Skip to main content

The Film List Project #18: Sunset Boulevard

I apologize for not posting last week. It might happen again.

This week, I had the bizarre pleasure of watching one of the most misquoted movies of all time, Sunset Boulevard. I don't think I've yet recovered.

This film is exactly the kind of movie I pictured when I was young and someone talked about "classic Hollywood". Black and white, bombastic lead actress, a forbidden romance, twisting plot. Everything I imagined was there.

I always held these type of movies to a higher standard than those more modern movies I had already seen. People talked about them with such fondness, recounting memories of seeing them in a theatre or on TV at home. I was worried that when I watched a movie like this one for the first time, I would be disappointed.

What I've realized is that any movie from any era can excite, disappoint, or surprise you. An era that a movie was made in may shape the story and how it is made, but an audience's emotions toward movies have always been the same. Movies are made to make an audience feel something, and that's why people's memories of them are so strong. The release date is but a small detail.

I had two thoughts after watching this movie: 1) That was a beautiful roller coaster, and 2) Is Gloria Swanson okay?

I think it is easy to see a movie like Sunset Boulevard that has dynamic, explosive characters and assume that the actors are their characters. This is made even easier because of certain similarities between Swanson and her character, Norma Desmond (former silent film stars, former collaborators with DeMille, multiple marriages, etc.). But, Swanson put it so beautifully herself when she said, "I've got nobody floating in my swimming pool".

My only problem with this movie is with its protagonist. Screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) is the ultimate hypocrite. He lectures Norma Desmond about taking him for granted, but it is he who takes her for granted. He stays in her house (because he needs a job) and takes her money (honestly, because he needs a job) and never thanks her. In his eyes, he is doing her a favor, but the bizarre relationship between the two goes both ways.

This movie is going to stick with me for a while. See you next week.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Okay, Oprah: Or, a Pat on the Back and a Push Forward

I didn’t watch the Golden Globes this year. In fact, the closest I got to Oprah Winfrey was when a customer at the Starbucks I work in forgot we no longer sold her chai tea and ordered a “dirty Oprah” by mistake. Still, I was told about the speech. And I watched it. And I, like so many others, was moved by her words. 
It made me irritated, too. Here’s the thing: it’s incredible that Oprah stands with women who are oppressed, abused, assaulted, and silenced. Beyond incredible. She spoke with a characteristic eloquence that made people aware and gave people hope in a way so many of us need right now. However, we cannot deny that she had the opportunity to speak those words on such a public stage because she isOprah.
She’s one of the most powerful women in the world. I don’t think the irony is lost on anyone that the network that she owns is, well, OWN. We think Oprah, we think mogul, renaissance woman, icon, boss. The woman doesn’t need her last name anymore (or, the last five letters …

I'm Still Not Sure

I've tried to start this post several times over the past few weeks. For one thing, it's incredibly difficult to write after not doing so for months (seven, to be exact). It's another thing entirely to admit that I don't know what I'm doing, where I'm going, or who I am.

That being said, I've done it before. Two years ago, I posted a video on YouTube entitled "I'm Not Sure". Now, if you've never seen this before, I completely understand. I just watched it for the first time since I posted it, and it was cringeworthy. This is not only because it's weird to watch 20 year old me go through her YouTube phase, touch her face too much, talk with some strange inflection in her voice. Well, that's certainly part of it. Really, though, it's because nothing's changed.

At the end of the video, I say I'm grateful that I have a year and a half left of college to "figure it all out". That year and a half has passed. I gradu…

Talking to Myself in the Mirror

I think it's a pretty safe bet that a lot of aspiring actors/writers/directors/filmy people practice their future Oscar speech in the mirror as kids. I did. Who am I kidding? I still do. It comes with the territory. My mirror talks go, ahem, went (who am I kidding? go) further.

Sometimes, I do my makeup while talking to Barbara Walters. Other days, brushing my hair turns into a podcast interview. Most of the time, though, I rehearse what I'm going to say to my heroes. These hypothetical moments are incredibly important, and I can't afford to say anything stupid, so car rides, showers, and mornings getting ready are devoted to preparation.

This probably makes me sound crazy. The word "narcissist" may also come to mind. I think one of my heroes would have appreciated both the crazy and the narcissism in this bit of oversharing, though, but we lost her this morning.

One of my first posts on this blog was a tribute to Carrie Fisher. I read it over this afternoon after…