Wednesday, September 22, 2010

30 Day Movie Meme: Day 10


This one is pretty impossible to answer. What is considered a classic? Anything prior to 1975? Or nothing later than 1960? My instinct is to put The Godfather (1972) but it would make a better choice for one of the later options. Same goes for Some Like It Hot (1959) and On the Waterfront (1954), both of which I will save for later entries.

There are so many possible answers, but instead of agonizing over it I'll pick the first one that comes to mind and that will be that.

Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Directed By: Billy Wilder
Starring: Gloria Swanson, William Holden and Erich von Stroheim

I wrote a film review for Sunset Blvd. back when I first started this blog. You can read it here if you're interested.

I love when a classic film lives up to all the hype that surrounds it. Sunset Blvd. manages to be an original, crisp and fascinating look at Hollywood life and, despite the passage of time, it's still completely relevant in our current celebrity-obsessed culture. It's one of those rare films that reveal new subtleties and layers in both plot and character development with each repeat viewing.

The first time I watched this film (which I purchased on a whim only last year), I couldn't believe how how flawlessly executed it was (Billy Wilder was a master of story structure and visuals). It's an unusual blend of film noir and black comedy, giving the viewer a backstage glimpse of lives filled with betrayal, deceit and the emptiness of wealth and fame. Gloria Swanson's portrayal of Norma Desmond, the aging silent screen star who longs for a comeback, is campy, terrifying and tragic all at once.

Visually cinematic (floating dead bodies and slow descents from grand marble staircases included) and clever in dialogue ("She was the greatest of them all. You wouldn't know it, you're too young. In one week she received 17,000 fan letters. Men bribed her hairdresser to get a lock of her hair. There was a maharajah who came all the way from India to beg one of her silk stockings. Later, he strangled himself with it!"), Sunset Blvd. will never stop being the significant and powerful silver screen classic it has become. It also has one of my favourite final scenes in a film, ever.


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