Sunset Boulevard, 1950

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{Theatrical Release Poster}

A struggling writer stumbles upon a former movie star, who is detached from reality, and she takes him on the ride of his life.

Synopsis: Joe is a struggling writer in Los Angeles California. He is behind on all his payments, can’t catch a break from producers or his agent,  and is running from men trying to repossess his car. While in a chase with the repoo men, he blows a tire along Sunset Boulevard (a notoriously  wealthy neighborhood) and pulls into a garage of what he believes to be an abandoned mansion. He is mistaken as a coffin salesman and invited into the home which is occupied. The owner of the house, middle-aged former silent movie star Norma Desmond is grieving the loss of her beloved Chimpanzee companion. She strikes a deal with Joe; she will pay him handsomely to edit her masterpiece script (herself as the leading lady) that will bring her back into Hollywood. Believing he is manipulating her into this deal, he agrees. He quickly becomes her new obsession, and realizes her feelings toward him when attending a new years party where he is the only guest besides the orchestra and her servant Max. He decides to leave to party to be with people his age but returns, and agrees to be hers following her attempted suicide. Norma gives Joes everything he could ever desire, but he is still not satisfied. While Norma prepares for her return to the big screen, Joe starts writing a script at night while Norma is asleep with a young and innocent Paramount reader named Betty. Quickly their professional relationship ventures on the lines of romance. In jealousy, Norma calls Betty inquiring if she knows what kind of man Joe really is. Joe catches Norma, takes the phone and invites Betty over so she could find out and judge him for herself. At Betty’s arrival, Joe reveals he lives with Norma who pays for his lifestyle and he is happy there. He refuses to leave with Betty wishing her and her fiancé the best of luck. He then goes upstairs, packs his suitcase and attempts to leave Norma. Norma instead shoots him and he lands in her pool. It is then revealed that Joe is in fact our narrator, and dead.

My thoughts: Film Noir, disillusionment with society, reversed genre roles and the femme fatale lightly brush on the true masterpiece that is Sunset Boulevard.  This films dives into the hidden world that reveals the aftermath of the Hollywood star system. The small touches make the film hyper-realistic including the cameos by Cecil De. Mille, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough, Jack Webb, Hedda Hopper, Buster Keaton, H.B. Warner and Anna Q. Nilsson. I personally loved the twists and turns of the brain-washed woman’s mind. She leaves, no one leaves her unless in death.

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