Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Movie review: Sunset Boulevard

Prologue: It all started with the song, Sunset Boulevard, which the girlfriend heard, which in turn prompted me to locate it on youtube. This was the version I found and subsequently became a fan of.



Cut to present: While at a movie rental place, imagine my surprise when I find a movie with the name. To start off, its a black and white movie and not a musical. Apparently the musical came long after the movie and it seems that the movie was quite a controversial movie at the time.

It starts off with the press and the cops rushing to the crime scene where a haul a dead body of of the pool, and that's where the memorable dialogues of the movie begin. "Well, this is where you came in, back at that pool again, the one I always wanted. It's dawn now and they must have photographed me a thousand times. Then they got a couple of pruning hooks from the garden and fished me out... ever so gently. Funny, how gentle people get with you once you're dead." The movie is narrated by the dead guy, Joe Gillis. Turns out Joe Gillis is a writer who out on his luck. Right at the start, he stands to lose his car thanks to a loan, which is something he cannot stand. While trying all his sources to get some cash (~300 dollars), he runs into the repo men at an intersection. A car chase commences and thanks to a blow-out, he ends up hiding is car in a deserted mansion on Sunset Boulevard.

Thus sets the stage for the movie. While the song makes Joe seem like a truly opportunistic parasite, the movie does not put him across in such harsh light. The old star, Norma Desmond seems menacing and at times, sinister and you can slowly see Joe getting entangled in her web, in part because of his own needs (he's got a loan to worry about and no solid source of income) and in part because of the behaviour of Norma (she's suicidal to say the least!). You already know how the movie is going to end, thanks to the beginning, but what's great is all the drama and little jibes that the movie takes on its way to the conclusion.

Verdict: It's a given recommended watching. Of note is the great camera angles and other visual cues, which add a lot to the frame without cluttering it. Great acting by Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond. Do check out the IMDB page once you've watched the movie for a whole lot of surprises. 

Here's the trailer of the movie:


sunset boulevard trailer
Uploaded by soulpatrol. - Watch feature films and entire TV shows.

Some of my favourite quotes from the movie (Source: imdb.com).

Joe Gillis: You're Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big.
Norma Desmond: I *am* big. It's the *pictures* that got small.

Norma Desmond: We didn't need dialogue. We had faces!


Joe Gillis: [narrating] Well, this is where you came in, back at that pool again, the one I always wanted. It's dawn now and they must have photographed me a thousand times. Then they got a couple of pruning hooks from the garden and fished me out... ever so gently. Funny, how gentle people get with you once you're dead.

Joe Gillis: Norma, you're a woman of 50, now grow up. There's nothing tragic about being 50, not unless you try to be 25.

Norma Desmond: My astrologist has read my horoscope, he's read DeMille's horoscope.
Joe Gillis: Has he read the script?

Norma Desmond: There once was a time in this business when I had the eyes of the whole world! But that wasn't good enough for them, oh no! They had to have the ears of the whole world too. So they opened their big mouths and out came talk. Talk! TALK!

Norma Desmond: No-one ever leaves a star. That's what makes one a star.

Joe Gillis: I'm not an executive, just a writer.
Norma Desmond: You are... writing words, words, more words! Well, you'll make a rope of words and strangle this business! But there'll be a microphone there to catch the last gurgles, and Technicolor to photograph the red, swollen tongues!

Max Von Mayerling: There were three young directors who showed promise in those days: D. W. Griffith, Cecil B. DeMille, and Max Von Mayerling.
Joe Gillis: And she made you her servant.
Max Von Mayerling: It was I who asked to come back. I could have continued my career, but I found it unbearable. You see, I was her first husband.


There's even an India reference there!

Max Von Mayerling: She was the greatest of them all. You wouldn't know, 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!



Pic source: terryhoponozky.cz

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