Note: The thirteenth entry in the Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series, the classic ‘Sunset Boulevard’ by Billy Wilder, was selected by artist and photographer extraordinaire Jeff Stroud, himself an avid film lover.
by Allan Fish
(USA 1950 110m) DVD1/2
It’s the pictures that got small
p Charles Brackett d Billy Wilder w Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, D.M.Marshman Jnr story “A Can of Beans” by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder ph John F.Seitz ed Arthur Schmidt, Doane Harrison m Franz Waxman art Hans Dreier, John Meehan
William Holden (Joe Gillis), Gloria Swanson (Norma Desmond), Erich Von Stroheim (Max Von Mayerling), Nancy Olson (Betty Schaefer), Fred Clark (J.D.Sheldrake), Jack Webb (Artie Green), Lloyd Gough (Morino), Cecil B.de Mille (himself), Buster Keaton (himself), Anna Q.Nilsson (herself), H.B.Warner (himself), Hedda Hopper (herself), Jay Livingston (himself),
So Kevin Brownlow titled his book of interviews with forgotten stars of the silent era in 1969 and the title could be seen to encapsulate Billy Wilder’s wonderfully acerbic look at Hollywood as well as any, with Joe Gillis even saying at one point that Norma Desmond was “still waving proudly at a parade which had long since passed her by.” Sunset Boulevard is a film to make one mourn for the silent era in more ways than one, undiminished by several imitations and an inferior Lloyd-Webber musical treatment. A veritable mausoleum to twenties Hollywood, as forgotten as that mansion Norma calls home which, to quote Gillis, “seemed to have been stricken by a kind of creeping paralysis.”
The plot follows a down and out movie writer from Ohio who is one step away from returning home and calling it quits when he gets a flat tyre on the eponymous Los Angeles road and turns into the first drive he can to escape the finance officers with a court order on his Plymouth Convertible. It turns out to be the driveway of a forgotten legendary silent film star, Norma Desmond, who is expecting a man from a funeral parlour come to bury her beloved chimp with almost necrophiliac care (indeed, later on, when she talks of the scene in herSalome script where she kisses the decapitated head of John the Baptist, Gillis quips “they’ll love it in Pamona…“). Continue Reading »