Top 100 Movies Sunset Blvd.

Top 100 Movies Sunset Blvd.
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Top 100 Movies Sunset Blvd. You may or may not know it – but I’ve been systematically walking my way through the Top 100 movies of all time (as defined so by this Hollywood Reporter piece) and watching and reviewing movies as we work our way from bottom to top.

Top 100 Movies Sunset Blvd. Walkthrough

The movie begins our narrator, dead, floating face down, in a swimming pool. Obviously, the viewer doesn’t know that out of the gate… but I got it. It’s not rocket science. Regardless, we definitely do realize it’s Joe once it is all over. Flipping backwards in time, we watch as Joe Gillis (William Holden), struggles to get on top of his spiraling life. Creditors are coming for his car, and we also know that his rent is back due as well. And while running from the creditors coming for his car, he runs for it. And when he blows a tire, and turns into a deserted driveway, it takes him to a deserted mansion of former silent film star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson).

Norma, who is reclusive and delusional, hires Joe to edit her screenplay for her comeback film. Eventually, Joe agrees to doing the work of trying to edit her screenplay all the while she hovers over him, and keeps him from removing any scenes with her in them. And eventually, Norma starts reeling him in financially, emotionally, and romantically. However, he realizes that Norma is obsessed with her past and that her grip on reality is slipping. She’s literally consumed by visions of her own face.

Eventually it is revealed that it’s Norma’s former director (now butler) Max von Mayerling (Erich von Stroheim), who is the one holding all these delusions together. It’s Max who is waiting on her every whim, and it’s Max who is crafting all the adoring fan letters she receives every day. It is also revealed that he was a great filmmaker in his time, but after he was fired by Paramount Pictures, he became Norma’s servant.

As Joe tries to break free from Norma’s hold on him, he meets Betty Schaefer (Nancy Olson), a script reader with whom he develops a romantic connection. Meanwhile, Norma becomes increasingly unstable and paranoid, even staging a lavish party in an attempt to impress Cecil B. DeMille (playing himself). DeMille being the only director good enough for her screenplay. Now, when Joe has realized what has been happening to him, and the trap that he has fallen into, Joe tells Norma that he is leaving her. Oh, and by the way? Her movie is never going to be made. And in this climactic scene, Norma snaps, and threatens to off herself. Ultimately, when Joe tries to leave, she shoots him, and he falls into the swimming pool, where he dies. See? Full circle.

The final scene shows the police arriving at Norma’s mansion and arresting her for the murder of Joe. Norma, still delusional, believes that she is shooting a scene for her comeback film, and she descends down the grand staircase to face the cameras, as she repeats her famous line, “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

Thoughts on the Film Sunset Blvd.

Sunset Boulevard is a powerful and haunting exploration of the destructive nature of Hollywood’s obsession with fame and success, as well as the delusions that can come with it. That much is obvious. It is also often said that the film’s performances, especially those of Swanson and Holden, are considered to be some of the best in cinematic history, and the film’s innovative use of flashbacks and voice-overs have made it a timeless classic of American cinema.

Personally, I found the acting of Swanson was ultra over the top – I get that that was the goal. But I mean, even still! Don’t believe me, check out this clip from the ending:

I mean? It was good. And really cleverly set, lit, and the details of the extras, etc. all leading towards the sense of it being a movie set, and not her being arrested for murder. But her acting? I don’t know. It was pretty lame if you ask me. But I liked the movie over all. I found it to be a well written, and really intriguing story. But you know why? Because it’s a retelling of the Charles Dickens story, Great Expectations. No? Joe even referred to Mrs. Havisham towards the beginning of the movie. It’s literally that story, but instead of an Estella as bait, Joe is chasing after fame and money. But regardless, I found the movie to be quite interesting and quite affecting.

Edited by: CY