Sunset Blvd.

The week of September 19, 2010:

Traditionally the movie of the week is often cited as one of the most noteworthy films of American cinema, and Sunset Blvd. is no exception. Sunset Blvd. stars William Holden and Gloria Swanson in what many consider their best performances!

Stars: William Holden & Gloria Swanson
Directed by: Billy Wilder
Released in: 1950

Due to screenplay writer Joe Gillis not being successful in selling his work to cinema studios, he has found it profoundly difficult to escape debt. While trying to outsmart his creditors in a high-speed car chase, Gillis encounters a flat tire and parks his car in a decadent mansion on Sunset Blvd. Gillis soon learns that the mansion is occupied and meets the owner of the home. The owner is Norma Desmond, a former silent movie star, who lives with her butler Max von Mayerling. Desmond’s wishful thinking allows her to believe that someday she will return to the cinema industry and is now convinced Gillis can help her make her comeback. She proposes that he move into her mansion and help her write a screenplay for her return. But Gillis begins acting more as Desmond’s gigolo instead. Then when he falls in love with a young, aspiring writer named Betty Schaefer, Desmond’s jealousy turns her completely mad, leading to the ultimate tragic ending.

Fact: The role of Norma Desmond was initially offered to Mae West, Mary Pickford, Pola Negri, and Greta Garbo before being accepted by Gloria Swanson. West rejected the role since she felt too young to play the part. Then Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett went to Pickfair to pitch the story to Pickford, but her horrified reaction as the story progressed made them stop halfway through and apologize to her. Wilder found Negri’s Polish accident, which killed her career, was still too think for such a heavy dialog film. And when Wilder and Brackett met with Garbo they tried to convince her to make a comeback with the role of Desmond, yet she also declined the offer.

Fact: Montgomery Clift was hired to play the leading role of Joe Gillis but quit the production just weeks before filming was scheduled. Clift, like Gillis, was having an affair with a wealthy middle-aged former actress and she pressured him to back out of the role.

Fact: Hedda Hopper and Buster Keaton, who make cameos as themselves in the movie, both died on February 1, 1966.

Awards: Sunset Blvd. won three Oscars. Hans Dreier, John Meehan, Sam Comer, and Ray Moyer won Best Art Direction in Set Decoration – Black-and-White. Best Music for Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture was awarded to Franz Waxman. As well, Sunset Blvd. writers: Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and D.M. Marshman, Jr. won an Oscar for Best Writing – Story and Screenplay. Sunset Blvd. was also nominated for awards in the following categories: Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Cinematography – Black-and-White, Best Director, Best Film Editing, and Best Picture.

To view the trailer of Sunset Blvd. visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwxGbhclIGw

As well, Sunset Blvd. will air on the Turner Classic Movie channel on Wednesday, September 22 at 6:00PM. Be sure to double-check your local listings and times at www.tcm.com

And as always, feel absolutely free to leave your comments:)

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~ by discoveringtheclassics on September 19, 2010.

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