The story, set in '50s Hollywood, focuses on Norma Desmond, a silent-screen goddess whose pathetic belief in her own indestructibility has turned her into a demented recluse. The crumbling Sunset Boulevard mansion where she lives with only her butler, Max who was once her director and husband has become her self-contained world. Norma dreams of a comeback to pictures and she begins a relationship with Joe Gillis, a small-time writer who becomes her lover, that will soon end with murder and total madness. Written by alfiehitchie
August 25, 1950
With as many films as Hollywood attempts to repackage for younger audiences, how has no one remade Sunset Boulevard?
Imagine a Britney Spears, Michael Jackson or Lindsey Lohan type star in the Norma Desmond role. This story is so true to the heart of Hollywood, I think producers would be afraid of the backlash. Hollywood is filled with washed up actors and actresses praying for that one role to spark a come back. Sometimes it works out, like Travolta in Pulp Fiction. But more times than not its a short lived reality show with them an 20 other celebrities.
But we all love a comeback story.
At the time of its release Sunset Boulevard made big waves in Hollywood. The head for Warner Brothers walked out of a screening with several choice words for the producers apparently. Even the actors in the film were washed up silent movie actors, “wax works” as William Holden’s character put it.
To this day the movie still holds up. Director Alan Ball was inspired to make Kevin Spacey’s character in American Beauty (1999) narrate the film from beyond the grave as an homage. The film is a great example of Film Noir. It has all the great elements, murder, mystery, the flawed hero, everything you want in classic Film Noir.
Gloria Swanson transcends the role in what is already an amazing film on its own. Her experience as a silent film actress shines thought with her hauntingly expressive eyes. I think recasting the movie today you would have to change up the movie for a modern setting. You cant re-do Gloria Swanson’s performance, Glenn Close did it on Broadway but that’s about as close as you can get.
No — you need an actual has been, Lindsey Lohan would be perfect. An actual Hollywood burnout, and you have so much material with social media, paparatizi and media coverage.
Someone needs to get working on this.
Finally I’m getting the reference from one of my favorite movie scenes in Mrs. Doubtfire!!! (watch the scene here)
Sunset Blvd is fantastic. Again I ask, why did I avoid old black and whites? Please check out this movie if you haven’t seen it — don’t avoid black and white movies like I did. It’s crazy.
That said, I’m glad I was sitting next to Matt during the movie for him to explain to me the enormous significance of this movie to Hollywood in the 50s. Hopefully the download or rental you get includes bonus interviews so you gain a bit more background about the film. Wikipedia offers a great background on the film as well.
Bottom line: what made this movie so remarkable at the time was that it showed the dirty secrets behind Hollywood’s treatment of “washed-up” stars. Sound familiar?
Though revolutionary at the time, it is still a wonderful movie to watch today when you need a break from CGI and foul-mouthed scripts. For first timers like myself, the story takes you on an unexpected journey for “an old movie”. It is fascinating to take a peek at 50’s Hollywood glamour … The furs! The cars! The jewels! And those eye lashes!!! Oh my!
On a recent trip to Los Angeles my driver got a bit lost and we spent some time on Sunset Blvd. For some reason driving down the road made me like the movie even more. Down those Hollywood streets there are countless tales and woes similar to Norma Desmond. Perhaps I enjoy the movie because it is close to what a reality TV show would be today (but much better of course! Don’t judge me!) It’s a glimpse into the life of the rich and famous that we don’t expect to see. After they close the gates of their large mansions, what happens behind the scenes? Are the rich and famous living happily ever after?
There’s a reason this movie makes the AFI100 list and is often quoted in the movies we love today — go see why!
SUNSET BLVD. TRAILER