Sunset Boulevard is the story of a yester year movie star, Norma Desmond, who dreams of making a come back to the screen. She entraps a young, unemployed writer, Joe Gillis, by making him financial dependent on her. Her loneliness and insecurity makes her fall in love with him. Feeding her vain ego is her in house servant cum driver, Max, who continues to mail her fake fan letters. The ambience and the general set up of the movie reminds me of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Norma Desmond’s character is quite similar to Miss Havisham’s, in that she stays in an old, crumbling palace, and is extremely detached from the reality of the outside world. Her fear of finally realizing that the world has moved on and that she’s no more a star has made her set up a mini theater at home, where she watches re-runs of her silent movies. Her house is decorated with tons of frames carrying pictures of young Norma Desmond.
What’s interesting about the movie is that the lead role of Norma Desmond has been played by Gloria Swanson, who was a famous star during the silent movie era. She lost her foot hold in the movie industry with the advent of “talkies”. This was touted to her come back movie and what a come back it was- the movie was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, out of which, it won three- Best Music, Best Art Direction- Set Decortation and Best Writing.
One of the best scenes in the movie is the one where Joe Gillis walks into Norma’s room for the first time- Norma has mistaken him to be a coffin dealer and shows Joe the dead body of her monkey. Gloria Swanson’s acting as the old woman who’s gone mad couldn’t have been better. William Holden, as the struggling writer is a treat to watch too.
One of my absolute favorites so far!