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Sunset Boulevard


twister
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Hi, I'd like to start a discussion on Sunset Boulevard. I recently watched the film on DVD and thought it was very, very good. It must be ranked as one of the best films made. I thought the performances were outstanding.

 

What are your thoughts of this film? Did you like it or not? How would you rank the film? Also, are there any scenes or lines in the film that you like best? Thank you.

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Love the movie. It is very well done production with every area (e.g. writing, casting, direction, acting, camera work etc..), being first rate.

 

I rank the film in my top 50.

 

A while back there was a lot of discussion about Joe and the nature of his character. At first I said that he was a major cad, but after some back and forth, changed this to Joe just being a cad. But other still felt that was unfair to Joe and that he was just misunderstood.

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I don't know what to make of Joe - but he was mighty fine to look at. I think he was a cad in the film, but then he softened when he went back to Norma after she tried to commit suicide. He realized she treated him well. I think he originally got into something to reap some benefits, but didn't expect to go so entagled in a web he couldn't get out of.

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Joe made a legitimate deal with Norma, but she cheated him. He wanted to be paid cash for his script re-writing work, and he wanted to work at his own apartment, but she tricked him by moving all his things to her place, checking him out of his apartment, and never giving him any cash. He had to go along with living with her while working on her script, because he had no car, no money, and no apartment to go to.

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Your first sentence is very funny to me because when I was discussing the topic of Joe with a few of the ladies here that felt he wasn't a cad, I told them Holden's looks and charm was preventing them from seeing how much of a cad Joe was. Similar to how Hitchcock used Grant in movies like Suspicion and Notorious.

 

The main reason I labeled Joe a cad was that he mislead Norma by working on her script. A script he knew was going nowhere. I understanding him taking her money and being a gigolo but giving Norma hope that she could make a come back was real cruel.

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I saw Sunset Boulevard for the first time a couple weeks ago and loved the film. William Holden and Gloria Swanson give such great performances. I really like how the character Joe gives the audience a narration of what happen to him leading up to his death. One of the best scenes in the film would have to be the ending when Norma Desmond is coming down the staircase, believing that she is on an actual movie set in front of Mr. DeMille. Her famous ending lines is definitely one of the greatest movie quotes.

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Hibi wrote:

 

>I dont think TCM has shown it for awhile. Time for another showing. I never get tired of watching it.

 

Didn't they show it in August, on Holden's "Summer Under the Stars" day? I remember there was quite an extended conversation about the film, I think on a thread entitled "A Discussion of William Holden".

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james wrote:

 

>Your first sentence is very funny to me because when I was discussing the topic of Joe with a few of the ladies here that felt he wasn't a cad, I told them Holden's looks and charm was preventing them from seeing how much of a cad Joe was. Similar to how Hitchcock used Grant in movies like Suspicion and Notorious.

 

I remember that discussion very well, james. We did disagree over the extent of Joe's "caddishness", but at least on my part, it had nothing to do with his looks or charm.

As I recall, at least one other poster here who is male and not especially susceptible to Holden's physical attractiveness, agreed with me that Joe was not a terribly immoral person.

I don't want to repeat everything I said in that earlier discussion, but I still maintain that Joe was not only NOT a "bad" character, but that Wilder intended us to sympathize with him.

That is one reason why, as I mentioned at the time, he (Wilder) uses the voice-over narration.

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Wilder intended us to sympathize with him.

 

I totally agree with that statement but in the same way Hitchcock wanted us to sympathize with the various cads Grant played. That is just what a great director does.

 

But I don't see how that changes one's level of 'cadissness'. To me that level is based on their actual behavior in the movie. But a great director does use the looks and charm of an actor or actress to get us to sympathize with the character especially in a noir.

 

As for Joe, I wouldn't say he was bad or good. He was somewhere between the two.

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*Sunset Blvd?*

 

*Yeah, sure, I know. Take the 405 north and it'll be the very next exit after Wilshire*

 

Nah man, cruise down C?sar Ch?vez Blvd. from the Eastside to downtown, ey, and by Evans Adult School (where you took your ESL classes), it becomes Sunset. As? es, ese.

 

(Sorry, I couldn't resist either).

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My family and I saw the movie in 1950 or 51, then we took a trip to Los Angeles in 53 or 54, and we drove all the way down Sunset, from Hollywood to the beach. I wanted to look for the house in the movie, but we didn't know where it was. But we saw a lot of similar ones from the old days of Hollywood.

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If you think about it all the characters in this film aren't really sympathetic. Joe is using Norma for money and a place to stay at first. Norma is using Joe as a fling. Max is sending phony letters to Norma to feed her ego. Betty is cheating on her fiance with Joe. Even though we know all this, I for one still want Betty and Joe together away from Norma. I want Max to stop letting Norma order him about and you want Norma to get her commupence.

P.S. Does anyone know if Joe was doing what was best for Betty by sending her away from Norma's house? I didn't know if he was trying to do good by her, or if he really is a super cad.

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Sunset Boulevard must certainly be considered one of the greatest films to come out of Hollywood. The writing is flawless as are all of the performance. The characters are alive today- this discussion about Joe Gillis is an example of just how well written the film is! Personally, I think that Joe was an ordinary guy trying to get ahead, and was certainly opportunistic. The film is in large measure about his redemption, when he realized, finally, that the best, indeed the only course of action for him, would be to go back to Dayton Ohio, extricating himself from the quagmire that was at least in part his creation, and thus reclaim his self respect. Norma Desmond's fantasy life was ultimately fatal for her and for Joe.

Joe's story is vivid, a story in which we are all fully engaged! I agree that Wilder meant for us to sympathize with Joe.

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>Does anyone know if Joe was doing what was best for Betty by sending her away from Norma's house? I didn't know if he was trying to do good by her, or if he really is a super cad.

 

None of us KNOW, but Joe definitely did not strike me as a cad at all. I imagined Joe was ashamed Betty discovered his secret. He literally sold his life away, which is why the party scene with his old friends was so touching.

 

This is the tragedy of the story-poor Norma has been coddled & fooled all her life and has no idea of reality. Her flaw comes in the form of manipulation, and I'm not even sure she's aware she's doing anything wrong. It's always worked for her in the past.

Poor Joe just wants a job and he'll take whatever opportunity arises. Sad he misjudged the situation, thought he could just work & be paid.

 

Both charactors slide down a slippery slope. It's tragic because we all see how easily this scenario can happen.

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If I remember correctly, the house used (owned by the Getty family, I think) wasnt actually on Sunset Blvd. Maybe on Wilshire? (I'd have to look it up) It doesnt exist anymore. It was torn down at some point.......

 

Yes, it was still there when you cruised through. Just not on Sunset.

 

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043014/trivia

 

Edited by: Hibi on Sep 20, 2013 7:04 AM

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I loved the film Sunset Boulevard. I can watch it many times and never tire of it.

 

I thought Joe wasn't a cad at all. He was a young guy who somehow found himselft in a tangled web and couldn't extricate himself from it. Norma tried to buy his affection but was oblivious to the fact she was so much older and he had no interest in her. Yes, he accepted the physical things she bought for him, but he was down on his luck and accepted them. Perhaps you can say he was a cad for doing that, but Norma was forcing herself on him and he didn't have the wherewithall to get out of the situation. What made me think he wasn't a cad at all was that when she tried to slit her wrists with his razor, he dropped everything and ran out of the New Year's party with his friends, and went back to her, and his expression of concern and sadness for her situation showed he had real feeling. He didn't want to hurt her, he didn't run away from her, and he basically gave up everything to remain with her at that point.

 

By the way, Sunset Boulevard was not shown on TCM during the William Holden Summer Under the Stars day in August.

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> If I remember correctly, the house used (owned by the Getty family, I think) wasnt actually on Sunset Blvd. Maybe on Wilshire? (I'd have to look it up) It doesnt exist anymore. It was torn down at some point.......

 

It was off of Wilshire near Crenshaw. The house was also used in *Rebel Without a Cause* and torn down shortly after that film was made.

 

Getty built an office building and the plot of land where the house stood was the parking lot around back of the building.

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