182: Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard (PG) - 1950 - Runtime: 110 minutes
Starring: William Holden, Gloria Swanson
Director: Billy Wilder

I always wanted to be some rich woman's pool boy. That was my plan growing up. So I can sympathize with the main character, Joe, in Sunset Boulevard. He was living the dream: playing boy toy for some rich woman past her prime, enjoying all the wealth and extravagance that comes with being famous.

But no, Joe, wants a normal life, he wants to have options - to work and write! C'mon, I would have gladly given up everything just to lounge around the pool all day. It would only be a matter of time before the old bird croaked. And then you can go out and party all day with younger, more hip and more sane ladies. This is a classic tale of boy meets older woman, finds comfort and solace in her money and then the woman gets crazy and decides to kill boy. Like I said, classic. Some great performances here by Swanson and Erich von Stroheim, who plays her ex-husband turned butler. Creepy, yes?

This whole movie gives me the creeps. Swanson plays a fading silent film star Norma Desmond, where the pictures got too small (one of the most classic lines in movie history), according to her. And Joe stumbles upon her mansion by accident and gets lured in. He quickly becomes her boy toy simply because he has nowhere else to go and can't find a job. Norma is increasingly isolated from the real world - to the point where she only watches movies that star her and never goes beyond her property. She even had a pet monkey that she buries near the pool. Oh and did I mention her butler used to be her lover? So we got all kinds of bat-shit crazy running around in this film and Joe is smack dab in the middle of it.

It's a pretty fascinating watch. A story of betrayal and murder - much like a film noir, with a narrator adding extra cornball with bad metaphors and one liners. That's probably the worst part of the movie - I really don't care too much for narration and for some reason, Holden's narration just grates on my nerves. But the metaphors in the movie - power and corruption, the evils of Hollywood - have been beat to death since this movie has come out - but not one does it so beautifully as this movie does it. If you haven't seen it, it's worth checking out!

Rating: Rent It!

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