OTB#67: Sunset Blvd.

Sunset Boulevard. Billy Wilder. 1950. ⚄

It’s a Billy Wilder movie, so I assumed that this was a comedy. It’s not, and I’m a moron.

That’s some supporting cast.

This is one of three Billy Wilder movies on this “best of” list, and the only one I haven’t seen recently. (Or… ever? But it does seem somewhat familiar.) It’s about the movie business, which is a favourite subject of movie directors, of course.

Gloria Swanson is glorious here.

[lots of time passes]

OK, this is a pretty thrilling movie, but the central conceit here feels rather weird. It’s about William Holden, 32, becoming a kept man at Gloria Swanson’s (51), and it’s understood that we’re supposed to feel immediately squicked at even the concept of Holden having sex with Swanson. But… I mean… she’s even prettier than he is! She’s fabulous! I guess this was more of a thing in the 50s, but… it’s… not convincing? I guess that Swanson is playing somebody older than she is, and Holden is playing somebody younger than he is, but they basically look the same age. (Holden has one of those meat-fed faces that could be anything between 30 and 60 and I would have guessed 45.)

So that’s a thing to get past: I have to remind myself that he’s supposed to be all horrified that Swanson in lusting after him, because I’m just not.

And it’s rather misogynistic in the way that it’s alluding to him being feminised by Swanson holding the purse strings.

ANYWAY. The performances are so wonderful. Erich von Stroheim, Swanson, Holden… it’s such a pleasure to watch them. The cinematography is noir-er than noir, even if this isn’t much of a noir. Such fun.

The last quarter of the movie does kinda drag. As if they ran out of steam. Or perhaps it’s just because there’s not enough Swanson in it.

Oops! I forgot to make a cocktail.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best series.

Leave a Reply