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Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Blvd.

I didn't really have any idea what this film was about, I only could venture wild guesses based on the famous lines; "ready for my close up / it's the picture that got small" and with the title, I had to surmise it involved filmmaking. What I got was a weird mix of a deep-dive character study told through a film noir telescope.

The voice-over from our lead character invokes so many film noir instances that once the dead body shows up I was wondering...wait, what IS this film really about? Then it hits the brakes for a bit and we get to see our two leads interact. William Holden and Gloria Swanson play extremely well off each other. One clawing at any sort of human interaction while clinging on desperately to the past while the other is trying their best to get away from his past, look to the future and make something for himself.

These two polar opposites are stuck together for a good chunk of the film. The lengths one will go to keep someone around they think they love, buying fancy suits, expensive watches and gold cigarette cases isn't enough to win over another person. Even forcing them to write you a screenplay for a big comeback isn't enough to make them love you. Yet Norma Desmond is blinded by her own ambitions, she ignores the truth willingly.

Movies about movies sometimes feel self-indulgent, but here's a film willing to pull back the curtain and show us what it's like for former stars and how once they fade out, people will simply throw them aside. Lucky, or maybe it isn't lucky, for Desmond, she has one director willing to shield her from the truth, Cecil B. DeMille.

Joe wants to write something great and he won't be able to do that while ghostwriting Desmond's big comeback story. So he seeks out the help of his best friend's girlfriend, who just so happens to be smitten with him. Desmond can't have Joe leaving at all hours of the night to see another woman, regardless of what his intentions are.

The film is a dark comedy, with shades of noir and Greek tragedy. The majority of the film takes place in Desmond's mansion of a house with newly placed tiles that were waxed, making it an excellent place to dance. The only other person living in this giant palace is Max, the help. He always seems to know more than what he lets on and he has some secrets from his own past that eventually bubble up with a shock.

Sunset Blvd was a film that I knew was loved by many. Yet I always find myself wondering if I would enjoy those "old black and white" films. You know what...I usually do. So why does it take me so long to sit down and watch something like this? I don't know. What I do know is that I FINALLY did see this iconic classic tale and it lived up to my expectations. Sunset Blvd is a great movie.