Sunset Boulevard

I managed to remain immune to Sunset Boulevard‘s charms for a long time, but a recent viewing on TCM has brought me around full circle. Gloria Swanson’s portrayal of Norma Desmond is way more nuanced than I remembered: she hits the melodramatic high notes of the silent era queen, but also provides very subtle comedy and poignancy throughout the film. Absolutely perfect casting, as is William Holden as the cynical fly caught in the spider’s web.

The ahead-of-its-time dark humor runs deep in this great film. It stands outside categorization: “Noir/crime/black comedy/tragedy/Hollywood insider story” doesn’t do it justice. (For further appreciation check out Kim Morgan on 11 Hollywood Closeups and 8 New Year’s Eve Movies, the Self-Styled Siren on Billy Wilder, and Sheila O’Malley on Gloria Swanson.)

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