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Too much has been said and written about this masterpiece, apart from: how incredible that up until now I think I had never seen it before? Maybe when I was little on tv, but I had no recollection at all – and I do not believe the film works very well for a kid that has no concept of ageing, of lost dreams, of loss and neglect. The most interesting single thing is surely Gloria Swanson’s performance, and how she is balancing on the thin line between comic and drama, the gestures and faces of silent movie overacting could be ridiculous for the Billy Wilder movie, but Wilder and Swanson keep the ridiculous impact confined to the world of the ageing silent movie star that is Norma Desmond, and hence it is not comic, but it is sad and tragic to the rim. And how brilliant to pull off the only conceivable ending to the film that allows her to leave the stage in dignity without betraying the facts of life, of Hollywood life in particular!

I was thinking about the original opening sequence Wilder shot and edited, where the bodies of the deceased of the day were lying next to each other in the morgue, telling each other the stories of their premature demise, and how that would have changed the narrative. He said he changed the setting after the test audience laughed when the name tag got attached to William Holden’s toe – but I believe the bigger problem would have been that you would have taken the story away from its centre of gravity: the movie star and her huge bubble represented by the car, the house, and all her own memorabilia inside.

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19990627/REVIEWS08/906270301/1023

Sunset Blvd. (1950).

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