Friday, 6 March 2009

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

If all you know about Sunset Boulevard is Hugh Jackman singing a very cool song then you are me two hours ago. The musical I'm not really interested in, Hugh singing the title song there is as close as I wanted to get, I'm not a Lloyd Webber fan, but of course I am a massive Billy Wilder fan and yes, I jumped at the chance to see the film -when tonight Anna said; "Do you want to watch Sunset Boulevard?"
It's an early Wilder, I think one of his first big ones, made in 1950 it's shot like a Hitchcock thriller and it's as creepy as any Rebecca! It's the story of a struggling scriptwriter who stumbles into the world of a former silent movie starlet, now fifty and 30 years since she last stood in front of a camera Norma Desmond is as nutty as a fruitcake. The boy, Joe played by William Holden is first assumed by the old coot to be an undertaker and he is shown the body of her dead chimp, presumably named Bubbles. Did Michael Jackson see this film and think 'Hey, there's the life for me!' because it certainly rings a lot of alarm bells... Anyway, as the song goes; She was sinking fast, I threw a rope, now I have suits and she has hope- it seemed an elegant solution. One day this must end, it isn't real, still I'll enjoy a hearty meal, before tomorrow's execution...
Yeah, that idiot gets sucked right in there, he moves in with the psycho as her live-in-chum/boyfriend/whatever-she-thinks-he-is! And as foretold in Hugh's song, it doesn't really end that well for old Joe... The final scene will haunt you, you will have nightmares (or maybe it's just me, because of my family, I have two aunts who I wouldn't put it past to glide down the stairs, Dracula-esq, crooning "...Mr De Mille, I'm ready for my close-up.")
Gloria Swanson is fantastically scary in the role of Norma, your flesh will crawl. I enjoyed cameos from silent film stars who had too become waxworks, "Buster Keaton"- I cry! The film is excellent, brilliant narration from our title character who speaks, as Anna remarked, exactly as the sort of writer he's supposed to be would over-write a low-budget film script.

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