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All Fans of [i]Sunset Boulevard[/i] Give Your Opinion of This


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I just read an excellent book on the great director, Billy Wilder. It's a large work, divided into detailed chapters about each film Wilder directed.

 

The chapter on Sunset Boulevard revealed a fact new to me: Montgomery Clift was all set to play Joe Gillis, but backed out of the role two weeks before principal photography was to begin. Understandably, Wilder was furious. Clift's reason? He had just finished filming The Heiress with Olivia de Havilland, and claimed that "He didn't want to play another role opposite an older woman."

 

Since William Holden was under contract with Paramount, several executives suggested that Wilder consider him. But Holden hadn't had a successful film since Golden Boy years earlier, so Wilder was reluctant.

 

Well, as we all know, Sunset Boulevard guaranteed Holden's stardom for years. So what do you think? Who would you prefer? Could you see Montgomery Clift in this role?

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First off, Billy Wilder is one of my favorite directors so I had to give this question some thought. I didn't want to give the no answer so fast, which would be easy to do.

 

Wilder was an expert and knew who would work in the roles that he needed placing. In 1950 Montgomery Clift would have been a first on a list of possibilities for this role and he would have carried it off with perfection. One of the most important things an actor has to learn is what to take and what to turn down. This may be another of those circumstances where an actor makes a mistake on what he turns down. Bad for Clift and good for William Holden, and the rest is history. Getting mixed up with you know who really hurt Clift and maybe his path would have taken a different turn if he had done this movie.

 

So, yes Sunset Boulevard would still have been a great movie with Clift, but it is always nice when unknowns are given a chance to make their careers by seeing what they can do with a great script and running with it.

 

 

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Gosh- I am trying to invision Clift, he was so "pretty-boy" ( absolutely gorgious ). Holden was more manly, and maybe the scenes where he had to be mean to her and go away, or comfort her after her " episodes of melancholy", it might have been funny with such a boyish actor. It might look more pervers since she was suppose to be like 50 and he looks about 22! Holden at least looks 32.I dunno, I love it so much the way it is...

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I have that book about Wilder and I, too, was surprised to learn that Clift was initially slated to appear in the film. It's hard to say what if instead of what is because Holden was so good in the part. I really don't think Clift would have been as good as Holden, though maybe that's just because I like Holden more than Clift. Holden and Swanson had such a unique chemistry on-screen, as Holden also had in his scenes with von Stroheim, one wonders if the film would have played the same with Clift. Who knows? I suppose it's irrelevant now.

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Boy - that is such a hard call to make. It's almost impossible without seeing both performances. I love Monty - but really like Holden, too. It's hard to imagine a better performance than that given by Holden, though, so I'd leave it as is.

 

It's like when I heard that Burt Lancaster was the first choice to play Ben-Hur. Well, I'm not a Heston fan so my first thought was that I wished Lancaster would have played it - and I'm positive he would have been great - but whether I like Heston or not, he was wonderful in Ben-Hur - so why even consider changing it? My choice of an actor would still be Lancaster, hands down - but why change near perfection which Heston gave in the movie. JMHO.

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I too am a Lancaster fan. Didn't he also turn down the Don Corleone part in "The Godfather"? And can you imagine Ronald Regan as Rick in Casablanca? Bogart got many a role turned down by George Raft. Which at times is a good thing... vallo

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I've got Charlotte Chandler's book but I think cowbtony, correct me if I'm wrong, was referring to Ed Sikov's On Sunset Boulevard. On p. 288, Sikov states Clift pulled out because after The Heiress, he didn't want to play anymore love scenes with an older woman and he didn't think he'd be convincing. Wilder responded with, "Bulls**t! If he's any kind of an actor, he could be convincing making love to any woman." Hilarious, and a poor excuse for pulling out of a decent picture. A great read for Wilder fans and much more in depth than Chandler's and, for accuracy's sake, an extensive notes section for the reader to check up on.

 

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"...A great read for Wilder fans and much more in depth than Chandler's and, for accuracy's sake, an extensive notes section for the reader to check up on."

 

LOL johnnyweekes!

 

I don't have an opinion on this question, believe it or not, but I just jumped to ebay and bought the Billy Wilder book. He's one of my favorite director/writers. Cynical, irreverent...love him.

 

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Yes, johnnyweekes70, the book I was referring to was the one by Ed Sikov. And I think there was another excuse Clift made (although I don't recall the source), claiming he "was romantically involved with a socialite" who lived in New York and he wanted to spend more time with her instead of working in Hollywood for several months.

 

 

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Needless to say "Sunset Boulevard" is one of my all time favorite films.

Gloria Swanson is outstanding as faded silent-film star Norma Desmond and I'm so glad that Mae West refused the part, although she may have pulled it off (we'll never know).

The overall cast lead by William Holden was perfection as was the decadent settings. A superior movie.

One of my favorite lines is when Holden say "Your Norma Desmond. You used to be big". And Swanson replies "I am big. It's the pictures that got small". WOW.

 

Mongo

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Vallo, I agree that it's a good thing that Bogie got some of the roles Raft turned down - as much as I like Raft. I can't see anyone but Bogie in Casablanca for instance. I didn't know about Lancaster turning down Don Corleone (sp?) and I know many people will disagree with me but I sure wish he'd have taken it! He'd have been great IMO.

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Clift was involved with stage star/older woman Libby Holman at the point he was offered SUNSET BOULEVARD. It was thought that this relationship was too close to home and Holman convinced Clift to backed out of the film. Although in the book MONTY by Robert LaGuardia it states that Clift said he had trouble playing love scenes to an older woman. But to director Billy Wilder, the actor stated the reason he backed out of the film is that audiences would never accept Clift making love to a woman thirty-five years his senior.

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Hello to all you TCM-ITES & cinephiles!

 

Just checking-in here & browsing & this 1 caught my Irish eye. As for Montgomery Clift-(1920-66) I am positive-(I mean, this has even been documented by dear friend)-(Plus, virtually any book on cinematic history,etc) & she also saved his life after a 1956 auto accident, after living her Bel-Air house. *Liz Taylor-(1932-) That Clift was either gay & or bisexual,etc. But, I don't know circumstances for him turning down *Bill Holden's-(1918-81) now legendary Joe Gillis role in "Sunset Blvd"

It's a truism, that he was first choice though.

 

As for *Bogie-(I may have cited this on here, but just in case. *Spencer Tracy gave him that now, more than legendary nickname.)

George Raft-(189-1980 has always been thrown into "The Turning Down Mix" & it's a fact-(this is straight from our own> Mr. 0sborne by the way)

 

1940's "High Sierra" (WB's of course) was 1st offered to *Paul Muni-(1895-1967) But, he had enough after '32's "Scarface: Shame of a Nation" (UA)-(by the way, they were forced to add the subtitle) & wanted to of course move-on & he had since of course.-(TRIVIA: He did eventually play another Gangster though "Angel on My Shoulder" (1946)

WB's & J. L. Warner-(1892-1978) thought with him playing Roy "Mad Dog" Earle in "HS" & after, by then becoming an 0SCAR winner, it would be an instant smash. He had other notions though. & wanted out of his Warner Bros. contract anyway.

They even offered it to: Edward G. Robinson-(1893-1973) & I don't know his reasons for not playing it though? He was mighty busy if you look at his flix around 1940.

(NOTE: Edward G. was also wanted before *Humphrey Bogart-(1899-1957) for 1936's "Petrified Forest" However, it was Leslie Howard that got *Bogie the role they did together on stage)

 

Now, it comes back to Raft-(a one note actor, but 1 tough hombre & even according to fellow Hells Kitchen survivor: James Cagney-(1899-1986) Though Jim ran in different circles & Raft kinda' ran with guys like: Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel-(1906-47) & his crew. Though Raft for the most part worked reg. jobs. Even for a time being a Boxer-(he rarely lost)

He did officially "Say No" to J.L. & "The Maltese Falcon" (1941-not to be confused with the boring RicardoCortez version of course?)

It appears, Raft was a bit of an ego-maniac-(at times) Thinking *John Huston too green & only a screenwriter at that stage of his long career.

So, they tried it with the "Dream Factory's" 4th hoodlum on the lot>*Bogart-(with much nagging from *Huston)

 

As for *"Casablanca" Thee original 2 stars of it were & according to most literature> Ronald Reagan & Ann Sheridan!?

 

By the way, that legendary mansion in "Sunset Blvd" of course was raised? Remember in "Rebel Without a Cause" ('55) J.D., Natasha & Sal Mineo all hid-out. It was the same mansion.

The home of Norma Desmond, was built in 1922 by: William 0'Jenkins && at the time of filming> Mrs.J P. Getty resided there! It was torn-down just 2yrs after "Rebel" in 1957 & was located exactly at:

641 N. Irving

Northwest Corner of Wilshire.

 

Thank You

 

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OOOPS, I forgot to vote. *William Holden, in my view was perfecto in "Sunset Boulevard!"

 

He had that sarcasm,etc that the role required. & though Clift was an excellent actor-(P.S. Marilyn was known to say he was the only person more....up then even her, with demons & all & most like: Mongo & others will know this. This is for other TCM-ITES. It was during *Selznick's vein attempt to re-create *"GWTW" With his 1957 "Raintree County"-(a good picture, but obviously not in same league. *Liz was nominated for-it though)

That Clift almost killed himself.

However, you can obviously see the diference in Monty's face, even with tons of make-up. He was more than aware of this & it made him drink & do drugs even more.

During "Judgment at Nuremberg" (1961) He had horrible troubles just remembering his lines. & of all people-(given his yrs of own alcohol abuse) It was *"The Great: Spencer Tracy" whom kinda' gave him a pep talk & assisted Clift in getting through his small, but brilliantly performed role-(his 4th & final nom.)

 

However, *Holden was just right as Joe Gillis. & it was his 1st of only 3 dates with "The Golden Boy"-(a pun is intended)

 

Thanx

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katyscarllett--

Since no one else has answered, I'll do it. Everything I've read seems to indicate that he was gay, but not adverse to a woman now and then and that Libby Holman may or may not have been his drug source and that he may or may not have acted as sort of a houseboy for her, much like Tallulah Bankhead's "caddies" are reputed to have acted for her.

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My memory on the details are a little fuzzy - but I believe that in the late 20's - early 30's - Libby Holman was the prime suspect in the shooting death of her

young husband heir to the Reynolds tobacco fortune. Although she was never officially charged I think that the rumors that she was the shooter persisted the rest of her life ... Maybe the fact that Monty Clift and Libby Holman were close companions - like Joe and Norma was coincidence enough - Since Norma shoots and kills Joe, Monty Clift didn't want the old Libby Holman/Reynolds rumors to crop up again - That is 100% amateur psychology on part!! If I have gotten this story wrong - please correct me!

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Hi,

 

Madge -

You are pretty much on the money about Libby and her husband's murder or suicide. Apparently, Libby was charged with murder but the Reynold's family lobbied for the chargs to be dropped. Too much scandal and dirty laundry to drag out before the innocent public???!!!

 

In 1950, Libby's son, Chris, was killed in a mountain accident, so she really hit the jackpot with tragedy.

Martha Raye was a friend of hers and she attended many of Libby's parties. I've heard that she was a drug addict as well as an alcoholic.

Anyway, she ended up committing suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning, sometime in the late 60's, I think. By that time Montgomery Clift was already dead and he was in worse shape than Libby before he succumed.

Sometimes these gifted artists are the most tragic people of all.

Pity......

 

Larry

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Wow Larry - I knew about Montgomery Clift's sad end but not about the sad endings for Libby Holman and her son ... You know the old saying about your "karma" attracting the vibe that it gives out? Montgomery Clift and Libby Holman connecting reminds me of some stories (who knows if they are true) of Judy Garland and Robert Walker leaning on Peter Lawford in times of crisis - poor - but lovely - Peter Lawford was an emotional disaster - funny that they would gravitate towards him for moral support ... and of course later Marilyn ... with all of his reputed "kinks" their must have been some innate sweetness in his soul ...

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Gosh - I apologize if my last post took things off topic - let me put it back on topic ... Peter Lawford was married to Pat Kennedy ... Pat Kennedy's father Joe had an affair with Gloria Swanson - star of "Sunset Boulevard" - Voila! Back on topic!!

 

- Madge

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Hi Madge,

 

I think Peter Lawford was a very nice person and a fair actor considering he really had no training. He was a very beautiful boy/man in his youth and was passed around from one woman to the next in the 40's. Lana, Ava, Hedy etc.

He had a real dragon of a mother, Lady Lawford, who lorded it over him and anyone else she could. She even wrote a book later about herself called "****!" And, it was aptly titled.

I did see them from time to time but never really knew them.

 

Peter did end up badly - drunk and drugged and worse off than Monty, Marilyn or Judy.

When he died in the 80's, the TV news showed him as he looked at the end and I was horrified. He looked worse than the portrait in "The Picture of Dorion Grey"... I think he was actually in that movie, wasn't he??

 

If you're insecure, and I think he probably was, Hollywood will chew you up and spit you out and that's what happened to Peter. Sad.

 

Larry

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