Wednesday, 22 December 2010

I Know What You Watched Last Night....Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Since returning last week from two months in Los Angeles I wanted to revisit the old Hollywood classics & compare experiences ...First stop Sunset Boulevard. I have spent many an evening on the rather famous Sunset Strip, but I would loved to have visited character Norma Desmond's Sunset Boulevard.But I think I would have had to enter through the Twilight Zone......
Gloria Swanson (1897 - 1983) and Erich Von Stroheim (1885 - 1957) star in 'Sunset Blvd', Miss Swanson's last film in which she plays a parody of herself. In this scene she recites the immortal line 'I'm ready for my close-up now Mr DeMille'. The film was directed by Billy Wilder for Paramount.   (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

 SYNOPSIS 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, with his own tragic past, 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.
1950:  William Holden (1918 - 1981) and Gloria Swanson (1897 - 1983) in a scene from 'Sunset Blvd', the story of a luckless Hollywood scriptwriter living with a wealthy older woman. The film was directed by Billy Wilder for Paramount.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

I discovered not only is this a cult classic masterpiece, but there is also a rich and ironic behind the scenes back story - life very much imitating art as they say or perfect casting by Billy Wilder, with stellar performances and treated to legendary costume designer Edith Head's creations.
TRIVIA  Gloria Swanson almost considered rejecting the role of Norma Desmond after director Billy Wilder requested she do a screen test. Her friend George Cukor who recommended her for the part, told her,
" If they want you to do ten screen tests, do ten screen tests. If you don't, I will personally shoot you"
Swanson agreed to audition and won the role. And according to Swanson's daughter, her mother stayed in character throughout the entire shoot.
The role of Norma Desmond was initially offered to Mae West who rejected it, as she thought she was too young to play a silent film star.
The role of Joe Gillis, was the part that revived actor William Holden's career and for many years after.
Gloria Swanson gives a performance that's voted one of the greatest performances of all time, as one of the greatest characters of all time in one of the greatest films of all time.
She also has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
I conclude that it is a great story about the emptiness of fame and fortune. It's a sort of ghost story for Hollywood has beens & opportunists, with intriguing cameos from actual silent movie stars.

QUOTES "All right Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close up" - Norma Desmond
 "You don't yell at a sleep walker - he might fall and break his neck. That's it: She was still sleepwalking along the giddy heights of a lost career..." - Joe Gillis (as narrator)
" I am big! It's the pictures that got small!" - Norma Desmond.

ALSO SEE  Day of The Locusts, Mulholland DriveMommie Dearest.

Source : IMDB