Number 41 on the top 1000 films of all time is the 1950 Sunset Boulevard.
Joe Gillis (William Holden) is a down on his luck scriptwriter. Upon fleeing repossession men who wish to take his car, Gillis happens upon a seemingly abandoned house on Sunset Boulevard and decides to hole up there for the night. However, he finds that the house is owned by Norma Desmond, a long-forgotten silent film star who wishes to reclaim her lost fame and glory. She then employs Joe Gillis to doctor her script called Salome, which she wrote to relaunch her career.
What I liked best about Sunset Boulevard was its portrayl of the fleetingness and superficiality of fame. This is more present in today’s society than ever. Living in the Age of Information, Youtube and viral videos, it is possible for everyone to achieve their fifteen minutes of fame, before being promptly forgotten about. It is true in the case of Sunset Boulevard and it is true now. Norma Desmond has become so bitter and resentful about being forgotten that she becomes a recluse, refusing to leave her house and watching her old films over and over again. This was a great demonstration of obssession and disillusionment. Joe Gillis also narrates the whole film, which gave it a good touch. Gillis’ narrative voice really helped to add to the noir atmosphere of the film.
I also quite liked the ending. It was unexpected and a good twist. It was also strangely appropriate too. The film opens with Gillis’ body floating in Norma Desmond’s swimming pool and ends with Norma Desmond shooting him after he walks out on her. After this the press and police lavish attention on Norma and the film closes on her famous line of “I’m ready for my close up.” This cylical narrative drew parrels with the cylical nature of fame. A new trend catches on for a while and is then completely forgotten and another trend takes its place and so on and so forth.
But like some other films of this era that I’ve seen, Sunset Boulevard didn’t keep me engaged throughout and I did get a little bored at times.
This film was a great commentary on the fleeting and superficial nature of fame. Great acting from William Holden and Gloria Swanson also contributed to its success.