Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Sunset Boulevard

I've always thought that I would have loved to have been alive during the early nineteenth century, and that over any other period in history would have been the one for me. Over the last few months I think that is starting to change, and it is films like this that are making me think that sometime between the 1920s and 1940s would have been an absolute thrill - particularly in Hollywood.

The story itself is not the best, in fact I would say it is quite poor in comparison to others on this list, but the ideas are brilliant. The glitz and glamour, while subtly mocked in the movie, is still breathtaking and the more I read into the writing and production of the movie the more entranced by the whole thing I become.

Norma Desmond is a little too over the top to be comfortable, but it does fit in with what the movie is trying to achieve. A prima donna ex star falling but without any realisation that the world has left her behind, does require a certain ignorance and Swanson plays it well. Holden is the typical Hollywood masculine lead - irritating, but perhaps slightly better than how current Hollywood would portray him as.

The other nice touch in the movie is how many actors portray themselves - names that I have heard but never actually seen. The mocking of Hollywood is done in such a subtle way, that these people can play themselves without needing to resort to slapstick to get across the excessive extravagance of Hollywood. Swanson even manages to mock herself with various elements of her own past being brought into the movie.

The story is a little disappointing, but the acting, the ideas and the showing of a fantastic period of Hollywood history definitely make this worthy of its Top50 status.

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