Sunset Boulevard 1950
Starring Gloria Swanson (Norma Desmond), William Holden (Joe Gillis) and Eric von Stroheim (Max Von Mayerling). Written by Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, and D. M. Marshall Jr. Directed by Billy Wilder.
Why Hipsters would like this movie:
- Sunset Boulevard is referenced in just about every other film and/or hip TV show, and a fair amount of issues of Entertainment Weekly. Anyone trying to sound more hip knows it just as well as all of Hitchcock’s films.
- It’s quintessential Noir, with black and white cinematography (by John F. Seltz) that is to die for. And that’s what happened to William Holden’s character, not to mention the monkey, so watch out.
- The plot is brilliant.
What Hipsters might think is insightful or witty:
- The plot is brilliant.
- The use of mirrors; (and images! Illusions! Smoke!) a commentary on the shallow self and images of identity.
- Hollywood in-jokes in literally every other frame. Probably more.
Things for Hipsters to note:
- If watching on an iPhone, Hipsters will note that Gloria Swanson is big, but the pictures got small…
- There is as much trivia surrounding this film as all of Boston Red Sox baseball. For instance, when Norma and Joe watch one of her old films, it’s actually the silent film Queen Kelly, starring Gloria Swanson at the height of her career, and made by Eric von Stroheim at the height of his. Creepy.
- William Holden’s crisp, monotone delivery is so sharp it could cut diamonds. Or etch cigarette cases.
- Swanson’s performance is absolutely delicious. (No wonder Glenn Close wanted to play her in the musical version.)
Quotes Hipsters should try to work into everyday conversation:
- “It was a great but white elephant of a place. The kind crazy movie people built in the crazy 20s.”
- “If you need any help with the coffin, call me.”
- “It was sure a cozy set up: that bundle of raw nerves, and Max, and a dead monkey upstairs.”
[The following should always be spoken with Swanson’s big-eyed, slightly profile, always-showing-her-teeth inflection. It will help if you crook your finger, pretending there is a curious cigarette holder there.]
- “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. De Mille”
[Actually, Hipsters wouldn’t use that quote. It’s too mainstream.]
- “Words, words, more words.”
- “Those imbeciles, have they forgotten what a star looks like?”
- “Valentino said there’s nothing like tile for a tango.”
- “You heard him! I’m a staaaaaar….. The greatest star of them aaaaall…..”
[Now, throw your chest out, lay your head slightly back, and descend a staircase with your arms slowly making waves before you, as if you are in a slow motion synchronized swimming contest, but really playing for a camera at the bottom of the stairs. And congratulations, you are also crazy.]