Monday Movies Is Big. It’s the Pictures That Got Small.
Monday Movies took in a Sunday brunchtime showing of Sunset Boulevard at the Palace Theater as part of the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Last Remaining Seats series.
There’s some debate about whether Sunset Boulevard properly counts as noir; I’m not sure what the case against is. The central sin of Double Indemnity is greed, but in Sunset Boulevard it is vanity.
Norma Desmond’s self-image as a beloved idol has driven her mad; she is nothing but the monstrous feminine. Cecil B. DeMille, appearing as himself at one point offers a hook to hang a critique on; “a dozen press agents working overtime can do terrible things to the human spirit.” But it’s hard to call Norma Desmond, whose response to displacement by the talkies has been to create in herself and her surroundings a monument to the lavishness of $18,000/week salaries and equally outsized facial expressions, a monster created so much as unleashed.
Holden’s Joe Gillis is vain, too, a more common vanity in film noir. He thinks he’s smart enough to get through this. He’s not.
What did you see, and what did it look like?
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