Monday, 5 February 2001
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
My love for Sunset Boulevard you could not contain in a mansion swimming pool. Gaze down into this cynical screenwriter’s death dream and you will find more tropes than you could reasonably shake a stick at. Noir. Wisecracking comedy. Romance. Tinseltown satire. Vampire movie. Expressionist art film. A silent picture with sound… Not ’til the likes of The Simpsons forty years later did we become accustomed to so many plates spinning in one sardonic script.
Pre-postmodernism? Well, it’s more or less the inspiration for David Lynch’s entire career. At the heart of it is Gloria Swanson, of course, riffing on her own career decline, the silent diva who knows the screen is no longer big enough for her. And that’s literally what we see as we watch the movie. Everyone is wooden while she is molten…an actor possessed by her own ghost; a performance too big for the sound stage; a monster still electrified by the emotive charge of silent cinema trapped in the boxy, belittling confines of a ’50s talkie.