director Billy Wilder
Sunset Bouldevard. One of the great movies.
You know, I hadn’t seen it for ages. I may actually have only watched it in its entirety once before in my life, some time long ago. But so much of it is so deeply ingrained via pop culture, so iconic are its performances, its style, scenes, dialog, that it’s as familiar as some long lost dear friend.
But you know, it is truly brilliant. The reason that there are so many quotable moments? The script is brilliant. The performances are brilliant. Gloria Swanson? Impeccable. Erich von Stroheim? Sublime. William Holden? Spot on.
What struck me more than anything this viewing through was how this film came out in 1950, meditating as it does on Hollywood myths and legends, and the great Silent Era, which had ended two decades before, though many of its greats were still alive and well. Obsolete perhaps in 1950’s Hollywood, but the sense of historical truth all in the paper-thin facades of movie sets…for an industry that was itself turning half a century, it seems a particularly mature and observant perspective on itself.
Here I sit, even further away, another half century plus since Sunset Boulevard and I gaze at the vantage of that time and appreciate its clarity.
Of course, Billy Wilder was among the greats of that second age of Hollywood. It’s amazing how many terrific movies the man made. Sunset Boulevard, a notable and well-known as it is, is just plain fantastic. The kind of movie I could watch over and over again.