|Sunset Boulevard (1950)
||[May. 12th, 2004|01:30 am]
The special edition DVD held extra treats, but the film itself is more than enough to satisfy.
A younger writer on the down-and-outs, Joe Gillis's misfortune of a flat tire brings him into the dilapidated reality of Norma Desmond.
The main cast members actually fit their characters.
Gloria Swanson, an aging silent film star, played Norma Desmond, the demented character who had been . . . a silent film star.
William Holden played Joe Gillis, the down-and-out writer. In the DVD, it is mentioned that he had not had a great film under his belt since Golden Boy, about 10 years prior to Sunset Boulevard. Like John Travolta, before Pulp Fiction, Holden understood Gillis.
Nancy Olson was a fresh-faced young actress who happened to be as wholesome as her character, Betty Schaefer.
Erich von Stroheim was a one-time director who ironically had great difficulty with Gloria Swanson in controversy over the silent film Queen Kelly . . . by the time of Sunset Boulevard, this became water under the bridge between the two. Erich played Norma's butler, Max. The film that Gillis and Desmond view in her private screening room . . . . is Queen Kelly.
Norma Desmond is a character on par with Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Every moment of her time on screen fills us with refined and calculated tension. Her words are spoken with utter conviction. Her eyes stare . . . through . . . a woman who truly died with the end of her career, a beginning for a zombie to what once was a wonderful actress. The presence of Gillis didn't help resuscitate Norma from her eternal wait for the cue.
Few films make me want to collect them. This is truly a timeless film.