I am big--it's the pictures that got small!
This is one of the transcendent classics of American cinema. It was daring, cynical, and a black comedy of the highest order when it was released in 1950, and it's all of those things today.
It is about a on-the-skids screenwriter, played by William Holden, who happens upon a washed-up and delusional former silent movie star (Gloria Swanson) while trying to hide his car from creditors. He hides out in her house, for a spell, ostensibly writing her "comeback" vehicle.
This is generally considered Billy Wilder's best movie, and that's saying a lot: he brought us Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, Stalag 17, and Some Like It Hot. This is a dark, dark comedy, and a stunning "fuck you" to the movie industry from one of its greatest directors.
It's great to have a chance to see this on the large screen. It is playing as part of the Regency South Coast Plaza's Wednesday revival series, which features (often) great movies, and cheap tickets ($7).
Billy Wilder's "Sunset Boulevard” is the portrait of a forgotten silent star, living in exile in her grotesque mansion, screening her old films, dreaming of a comeback. But it's also a love story, and the love keeps it from becoming simply a waxworks or a freak show. Gloria Swanson gives her greatest performance as the silent star Norma Desmond, with her grasping talons, her theatrical mannerisms, her grandiose delusions... In one of the greatest of all film performances, Swanson's Norma Desmond skates close to the edge of parody; Swanson takes enormous chances with theatrical sneers and swoops and posturings, holding Norma at the edge of madness for most of the picture, before letting her slip over...
"Sunset Boulevard” remains the best drama ever made about the movies because it sees through the illusions, even if Norma doesn't.
For those so inclined, we'll meet up for dinner before the movie at 5:30 at The Corner Bakery, which is right across the street from the theater. If you're planning to join us, please RSVP in the comments below.