Beth’s Classic Film Club: Sunset Boulevard

You guys! Sunset Boulevard. I can’t believe we haven’t done this film yet. Like, seriously, this is one of the all-time most awesome movies ever. It’s dark and creepy and it drips with sarcasm, and it has some of the best dialogue of any film ever. How have we not done this film yet? Let’s do it now.

Basic plot: William Holden is a struggling writer who can’t make ends meet. Gloria Swanson is an aging former movie star who doesn’t realize the “former” part. He agrees to be her lover and she begins supporting him financially. The whole film is shot as a flashback, because in the opening scene, we see him dead, lying face down in a swimming pool. Dark.

Gloria Swanson is incredible in this film. She has completely lost touch with reality and believes she is still beloved by audiences the world over. Denial: not just a river in Africa. And yet, at some level, she MUST know she has aged and become irrelevant, because she is trying so desperately to hide her wrinkles, and she so desperately needs William Holden to love her, because no one else does. She is the epitome of creepy.

Let’s talk about William Holden for a minute. William Holden, so dreamy. So charming. And yet, so sarcastic. In fact, his sarcasm is so modern-feeling, you almost forget you’re watching a black and white movie. And that’s because Billy Wilder co-wrote it, and Billy Wilder was a fucking genius.

I’ve always thought a remake of this film would be cool. Like, replace Gloria Swanson with one of the many former actors whose careers were ruined by drugs or alcohol, trying to launch a comeback on the reality show circuit and peddling a shitty script that everyone is too polite to tell them is crap. And a struggling writer who wrote one good film and nothing since, and now can’t afford the rent in overpriced LA. It’s a timeless story, isn’t it? I also think it’s a film that could take on new dimensions if you mixed up the gender of the characters. A dead woman floating face down in a pool feels different than a dead man. And age is experienced differently by actors than by actresses.

Alright y’all, get your popcorn and your box wine, and let me know what you think in the comments!