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Old 12-12-2005, 16:27   #1
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Sunset Blvd. (WARNING - SPOILERS!!!)

First off, I'll be discussing the plot here, and rather than blacking out my entire post, consider this your warning - if you haven't seen Sunset Blvd., stop reading NOW.

I watched this for the first time at the weekend and was just blown away. I was hooked, and got totally invested in the Gillis character - when he fell in as Norma's gigolo, I wanted to throw things at the TV; when his romance with Betty finally resulted in a kiss, I nearly cheered, even knowing all the time that he'd be dead at the end.
Why was I so caught up with Gillis' fate? Perhaps I identified with the character a little bit, being an aspiring writer myself, but mainly it has to be Holden's performance. I've always liked Holden, and (in his youth, at least) he's the kind of charismatic leading man I watch and think "I wish I was more like that" (alcoholism and untimely death notwithstanding). I've never been a really big fan, however, until now - I thought he was utterly superb in Sunset Blvd., and I'm looking forward immensely to seeing The Wild Bunch again in the new year, as well as catching Stalag 17 for the first time.

But, I digress. My main point was a question - at the climax, after Norma calls up Betty and spills the beans about her and Joe's "arrangement", Betty comes round and, in spite of everything, still wants to be with Joe. He, though, sends her away back to her husband, despite her obviously being in love with him and he (I think?) with her. Then Joe goes and packs, intending to head home to Ohio (before being rather unfortunately shot, of course). To me, this just didn't "click". If Joe is ready to leave Norma there and then, why does he push Betty away? Why doesn't he make plans to leave with her? I know it's all rather academic since Joe ends up dead anyway, but I just didn't understand him throwing away the chance of happiness with Betty, and because I was so wrapped up in the story, the question keeps buzzing round in my head and won't go away.

Anyway, I also have to say that I found Swanson's performance compelling, though obviously in a very different way to Holden's. Not since Nurse Ratched in OFOTCN has there been a female character I've wanted to belt with a baseball bat quite so vehemently, and yet I still smiled for her in the DeMille scene, where she was suddenly the centre of attention again, among all her fans.

Apologies for rambling, but I just had to bring the film up somewhere. I could have mentioned it in the office this morning, but a few blank stares and a "William Who?" would have been the likely response.

Dave

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Old 12-12-2005, 16:47   #2
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When Holden gets his shirt ripped off in Picnic it makes me go all squishy.

*cough* Did I say that. Cor, what a hunk!
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Old 12-12-2005, 16:47   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackal
But, I digress. My main point was a question - at the climax, after Norma calls up Betty and spills the beans about her and Joe's "arrangement", Betty comes round and, in spite of everything, still wants to be with Joe. He, though, sends her away back to her husband, despite her obviously being in love with him and he (I think?) with her. Then Joe goes and packs, intending to head home to Ohio (before being rather unfortunately shot, of course). To me, this just didn't "click". If Joe is ready to leave Norma there and then, why does he push Betty away? Why doesn't he make plans to leave with her?
Self-loathing, the realisation that he doesn't love her, isn't capable, isn't worthy, that Betty will forever know his little secret, and nobody, particularly anyone that close, must know? It's as good a theory as any.

Love Bill Holden, young or old, and he's blisteringly good in Network.
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Old 13-12-2005, 10:43   #4
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Thanks, John - seems a sound explanation. I did start leafing through Cameron Crowe's Conversations with Wilder in search of a little insight, but it's so damn readable I kept getting sidetracked on bits about other films. Anyone else got an opinion? I know I'm about 50 years late in bringing up the film, but, hey, can I help it if I enjoy the golden glow of youth?

Holden-wise, I sat down to Sabrina last night (long overdue for a re-viewing) - classic Wilder, but not really Bill's show, is it? I've got a lot of time for the older Holden too (any actor who could make Damien: Omen II bearable is a god) - weathered and worn, but still a magnetic screen presence. Not seen Network for years and years, but I've been arguing with my credit card over the Controversial Classics 2 set. And I just won.
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Old 13-12-2005, 11:19   #5
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I quite like Omen II as it happens. It's good, trashy fun, Lance Henriksen pops up and Goldsmith's score is terrific.
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Old 13-12-2005, 11:28   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anephric
I quite like Omen II as it happens. It's good, trashy fun, Lance Henriksen pops up and Goldsmith's score is terrific.
... there's always one . I agree with you that Henriksen and Jezzer's score are among the highlights though (and I liked the scene in the history class, where Damien starts rattling off dates to his teacher's increasing humiliation). In fact, I love Goldsmith's scores to all 3 Omen films.
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Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, D.M. Marshman Jr., Erich von Stroheim, Franklyn Farnum, Franz Waxman, Fred Clark, Gloria Swanson, Jack Webb, Lloyd Gough, Nancy Olson, Sunset Boulevard, William Holden

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