SUNSET BOULEVARD ( 1950 )

 

BLOGATHON ( OSCAR SNUBS ) 2 : 26 - 28 : 2016My sister and I faithfully watched the Oscars together since the 60’s. The first time I experienced the Academy snubbing a performer I thought should have won an Oscar was, Jack Nicholson losing for “Five Easy Pieces” back in 1971 and we screamed and jumped up and down and fussed in front of the tv for the injustice of it all. (His Oscar win for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was much better. But “As Good As It Gets” ???? C’mon, Academy! Youre killin me!)

Welcome to THE OSCARS SNUBS BLOGATHON hosted by bloggers Diana of Silver Scenes and Quiggy of Midnite Drive-In ( Hiya Quigs! Thanx for having me and the Couch. ) Participating in this blogathon makes me relive the bitterness of years past that I thought Id forgotten, or at least put to bed. Now I’m once again reminded and re-living my favorites who lost this coveted acting award. I’m sure I share my subjectiveness with my fellow bloggers on this topic. Oh you can pooh pooh me and disagree. All’s fair in love and Oscars.

Here are eight favorites I thought were totally robbed of an Oscar. Clicking on the photo will tell you a quick WHY or you can just stay here for the main event.

OSCAR SNUBS - ( ANGELA LANSBURY - THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE ) OSCAR SNUBS ( BETTE DAVIS - ALL ABOUT EVE ) OSCAR SNUBS ( BOGART - CASABLANCA ) OSCAR SNUB ( CLARK GABLE - GONE WITH THE WIND ) OSCAR SNUBS ( GARBO - CAMILLE )
OSCAR SNUBS ( PAUL NEWMAN - THE VERDICT ) OSCAR SNUBS ( TONY CURTIS - SWEET SMELL OF SUCCUESS ) OSCAR SNUBS ( ROSALIND RUSSELL - THE WOMEN - I ) OSCAR SNUBS ( ROSALIND RUSSELL - HIS GIRL FRIDAY )

As much as I love the performances of all the actors above, dagnabit, they have to lose AGAIN in my phony baloney accounting, sending me right back to cinematherapy.

Spencer, Lilly & Lara

Lilly, Spencer, Lara and Me

Hanging out at dinner one nite with some classic movie-loving gals, I asked each of them who THEY thought was Oscar snubbed? Lilly thought Dana Andrews should have won for The Best Years of Our Lives. Spencer thought Barbara Stanwyck should have won an Oscar for any number of movies, but to name one, “Stella Dallas. Lara thought Judy Garlands loss for A Star Is Born was the snub of all snubs. ( Ooooh boy, that one was a pretty bad snub, members of the Academy. )  I tried to make a case with them for my choice. And Ill try to make that case for you here….

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( A-1 )                                                                            For Gloria Swanson NOT to have to won an Academy Award for her performance as Norma Desmond in 1950’s SUNSET BOULEVARD is just plain, absolutely and utterly criminally insane. Its nuts to me. I think she should’ve called Jerry Geisler and sued the members of the Academy. Demand a recount! For this movie, the pen was dipped in venom and blood. Then the script was written by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder and D.M. Marshman, Jr. I don’t know Marshman…but we all know what mad geniuses Brackett and Wilder were. Then they boiled down the script in oil and shot it through Swanson’s veins with a hypodermic needle, where she unleashed desperation, heartache and megalomania, all with astounding and embarassing abandon. She was naked, peeling layers from a woman right down to the nitty gritty of insanity. Whaddya expect from a movie whose credits start on a dirty, cracked, sidewalk with butts and matches all over the ground, and a man who directed Double Indemnity and Ace in the Hole and The Lost Weekend? A glamorous Hollywood story?

Swanson’s performance mightve been too close for comfort to the collective memory of many Academy members … or,  they feared their vote would ensure a similar fate befall them. But its Hollywood…so everybody into the pool.

Well…..maybe just him:

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XI ) 

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( EE )SUNSET BOULEVARD ( FF )SUNSET BOULEVARD ( GG )Joe escaping the Repo man. You need a car in Hollywood


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“Sunset Boulevard” is a disturbing film, to say the least and a heartbreaking one to boot. It starts off with a down and out writer who needs $300 to make a payment on his car. He tries to escape the repo guys and…wait a minute. Listen, I’m going to fill this post with spoilers, so if you don’t know this film by now, shame on you I can’t help you.

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SUNSET BOULEVARD ( HH )Joe happens upon an old Hollywood mansion ( You can read Silver Screenings’ account of this old house in her essay, by clicking on the photo above )

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SUNSET BOULEVARD - ISUNSET BOULEVARD ( JJ )
Max, the Butler and Gatekeeper to the Past

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SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XXXIII )

The movie has elements of Grand Guignol / gothic horror and film noir. We’ve got the voice-over by our dead hero, telling his story in flashback who, for some reason, ( his greed ) is almost tethered to this ‘old dark house’ like a dog bound by an electronic fence. Joe Gillis, an successful screen-writer, is played by ruggedly handsome leading man WILLIAM HOLDEN. I heard they wanted to get Montgomery Clift for the part, but Holden is perfect. He’s a little older and not as pretty as Clift, making it all the more reason he worries about being a failure and not making his mark in Hollywood. Besides, Holden has the cynical edge I don’t think cutie pie Monty could pull off. Joe Gillis is fated never to escape the mansion, even when he has a chance to just walk away. The writing crackles with sarcasm and snark and probably the writers’ experiences in Hollywood. Joe is quite ungracious about the old timey movie star he hooks up with, however honest he may be about her. He thinks he’s in charge. He thinks he is getting over on her. But he’s as trapped as a rat in a maze. 

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XXXV )The old time movie star is Norma Desmond. She’s played to the hilt
( but NOT over-the-top ) by Gloria Swanson. Boy is it EVER played by Gloria Swanson. This was an Oscar-performance. Hell, what MORE does the Academy want: Swanson sheds blood, sweat and tears in this role. I found her fearless and sometimes I was embarrassed for her. If she went over the top, it wasn’t in HER acting but in Desmond’s Acting. Swanson plays many emotions in this movie. She is pathetically sympathetic or unsympathetically pathetic. She has delusions of grandeur and suffers abject rejection. She’s an old cougar trying to ensnare this younger man with money, tears or suicide attempts. 

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( PP ) SUNSET BOULEVARD ( QQ )

Swanson’s career has holes in it at a certain point; just go to her filmography and see the last feature length film she did before this one was in 1941. I understand she was a savvy business woman and realistic. No, Swanson is not Desmond, but I’ll bet Swanson met these types along the way. Swanson wears this role like a shroud. She’s loosey-goosey inside of it. Swanson’s Desmond is the Mad Woman of Chaillot…by way of Beverly Hills. SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XXXIV )Her megalomania knows no bounds, being propped up and misguidedly enabled by her faithful butler Max (Erich Von Stroheim.) He’s entombed himself in her lair as well. He is Igor to her Mad Scientist; the scientist who is also the Monster. She sits surrounded by her own photos; surrounded by the past. Her youthful self is a fortress against the Present. She’s sick. Demented…with dementia, perhaps? She’s a shut-in, lost in her own world and is Mistress of her domain. All this Swanson plays with fluidity. One manic mood flows effortlessly into the next in varying degrees. You dont know how the old gals going to react in any given situation.

SUNSET BOULEVARD - VI SUNSET BOULEVARD - V    Who needs mirrors when youre surrounded by pictures of your youth


Shes crazy…but she also has great empathy. Yes, she IS arranging a funeral for a pet chimpanzee. Hell yeah it looks bizarre but I get the impression he was probably a dear 

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( NN )SUNSET BOULEVARD ( OO )

old friend, this pet of hers. The respect she pays this chimp is quite touching, even moreso juxtaposed with Joe Gillis snark. ( Ack! Im torn…but then again, Im not on the inside of that mauseoleum. ) I think she has great loyalty to her friends (ungraciously and indelicately dubbed ‘the waxworks’) which includes: Anna Q. Nilsson, H.B. Warner and Buster Keaton, and loyalty to fans long gone.

It is typical Hollywood fashion, to obtain your own screen vehicles when your phone stops ringing. So Norma does what is done and has her own screenplay. Its not very good and Joe tell us that. But screen-writing is REwriting, though Norma wont let a single line be removed. She pathologically must be front and center. Why does this scene remind me in some skewed sense of the movie Misery?

SUNSET BOULEVARD - VII SUNSET BOULEVARD - IX SUNSET BOULEVARD - VIII

My favorite scene in “Sunset Boulevard” is when she goes to DeMille’s set, mistakenly

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XXXI )SUNSET BOULEVARD ( E )SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XXIX )

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XXX ) believing her script has been accepted by the great director. She might look a tad out of step with the fashion of 1950, but theres no doubt, Norma Desmond looks regal when she arrives at the studio. On set, extras come to greet her. See, she isn’t forgotten. She is revered. She might have thought it was her due …but look how she accepts it graciously. Shes not crazy or threatened or dictatorial. But check out how Wilder juxtaposes this scene with what’s REALLY going on ( they only want Desmond’s car NOT her. ) But flip the script again and see how sympathetically her old director, DeMille, keeps bad news from touching her. We keep getting hit with the reality of Norma’s situation while we live in the fantasy with her and Joe. And when she thinks she’s going back in the “ring” again, look how she trains for it in that montage sequence of getting back in shape. She’s seriously dedicated to her Art. The Art that no longer wants her. The lengths of willingness and no shame Swanson goes to for her character Norma is great; seen without makeup, Norma, chin-strapped like the Bride of Frankenstein, thinking she’s still got It.

SUNSET BOULEVARD - XI SUNSET BOULEVARD - XII
Take the gum outta your mouth Joe, and don’t disturb the bridge game


When Norma’s in charge, she’s in charge, barking out orders, making her demands known. She talks with her full faculties then, getting what she wants. Yeh…its apparent to all she pay
s for what she wants.

SUNSET BOULEVARD - XII SUNSET BOULEVARD - XIII

“As long as the lady is paying for it, why not take the Vicuna?”


But Swanson is not afraid to make Norma wallow in the depths of crazy. Wait, let me be more generous than Joe is. She peels off her skin to show the vulnerability of a woman, who can’t help loving that man who has nothing but contempt for her, as he accepts her gifts, room and board and the uhmmmm…etceteras. What woman hasnt been there, a one-sided love, blotting out the world for just one dance, lost in that moment of togetherness. Norma just orchestrates things better than, at least, I could. 

SUNSET BOULEVARD - XIVSUNSET BOULEVARD - XVSUNSET BOULEVARD - XVISUNSET BOULEVARD - XVII
And the band plays on…no matter WHAT


( Open your eyes ladies ~ this is what he looks like…waiting for his getaway. ) I’m not sure who Joe loathes more, Norma or himself. Dont get me wrong, Holden is more than holding his own in this…but it’s Gloria Swanson who’s taking the risks, being emotionally vulnerable. Shes coiled like a cobra, ready to snap when Joe even intimates there may be another girl:

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( K ) SUNSET BOULEVARD ( J ) SUNSET BOULEVARD ( G )

Joe Gillis: “What right have you to take me for granted?”
Norma Desmond: “What right? You want me to tell you?”
Joe Gillis: “Has it ever occured to you I may have a life of my own? That there may be some girl that I’m crazy about?”
Norma Desmond: “Who? Some car hop or dress extra?”
Joe Gillis: “What I’m trying to say is, I’m all wrong for you. You want a Valentino. Somebody with polo ponies. A big shot.
Norma Desmond: “What you’re trying to say is you don’t want me to love you. Say it. SAY IT!”

She smacks him hard across his face and he leaves Chateau Crazy.

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SUNSET BOULEVARD ( D )

Joe takes one last stab at independence, collaborating with the pretty young script girl w/moxie, Betty Schaefer played with bright clarity by Nancy Olson. ( Between late-1940s Barbara Bel Geddes and 1960s Hope Lange is the lovely Ms. Olson ). Theyve already done their ‘meet-cute’ scene in a producers office and here at a normal New Years Eve party they play out a mock love scene as two young hipster writers are want to do.

SUNSET BOULEVARD - XVIII SUNSET BOULEVARD - XIX

His mistress is Writing and to satisfy her he has clandestine meetings with Betty to get an

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XXVII )SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XXV )SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XXXII )

original script down on paper. Yeah, shes his friend’s ( Jack Webb ) girl…but this is strictly business. 

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XXIV )SUNSET BOULEVARD ( H )

Of course it becomes much more. This is Joes life line back to reality. Norma’s jealous rage gets the best of her and she calls this girl. She is utterly desperate.

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XIII ) SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XIX )

But it wont work this time. Joes not falling for her tantrum but I think he sees the jig is up, his career has run its course and he’s got to leave. He won’t let the bright young woman squander her potential on him. Joe lets Betty see his whole sordid situtation with Norma. Its kind of a way of letting her out of this thing they feel. Look at his face in the first shot. I think hes relieved. But I ask you to look at Betty’s reaction. Through her eyes we can see just how bad this all really looks living in this tomb with the faded, mentally-challenged film star. THIS is what it looks like to those on the outside. Don’t forget, we’ve been on the inside with Norma and Joe. He bequeathes all his ideas from their collaboration to her. He gives her up, sends her back to his friend. 

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XVIII  SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XVI )  SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XVII )

But now to leave Norma. She cries. She begs. She threatens. Max coming in to this scene

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XII ) SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XIV )

seems to let her know the jig is up for her, as well. Allowing reality into this setting has done her no good.

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XV )  SUNSET BOULEVARD ( XIII )

Never underestimate a woman scorned and unhinged.

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( IX )  

I think on some level, Joe knew he was going to meet his fate.

SUNSET BOULEARD ( VIII )

“Well, this is where you came in, back at that pool again, the one I always wanted. It’s dawn now and they must have photographed me a thousand times. Then they got a couple of pruning hooks from the garden and fished me out… ever so gently. Funny, how gentle people get with you once you’re dead.” – Joe Gillis


But Wilder is not finished with us yet. Not by a longshot. Stay in your seats and don’t throw away your popcorn yet. Wilder must tie a pretty bow to Norma’s story. What am I saying? This is cynical Billy Wilder; he ties a nice hangman’s knot around Normas neck and weighs her down with an anvil in one of the great endings in movie history; a perp walk into madness.

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( AA )OSCAR SNUB ( GLORIA SWANSON - SUNSET BOULEVARD )

“I AM big. It’s the pictures that got small.”  Norma Desmond

Yes, Joe Gillis deserved to die – for all the slings, arrows cynical assaults he flung around. But I think we need to focus some compassion for Norma Desmond at this juncture. She’s now totally given in to the unabashed ecstacy of insanity. She’s a goner. But  how is she getting out the mansion. It’ll be at least a year before we see Elia Kazan escort Blanche DuBois off the premises with a gentleman caller in Streetcar…. We’re in Hollywood now. Hedda Hopper’s there to dish the dirt … report on the proceedings. Max-her butler…director…husband has a plan.  And Norma’s coaxed out by what she thinks is a movie set. Max, who left a successful directing career to entomb himself in the past with Norma, once again sits in the director’s chair.

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( VII )SUNSET BOULEVARD ( VI ) SUNSET BOULEVARD ( I )

SUNSET BOULEVARD ( IIII )  SUNSET BOULEVARD ( III )   SUNSET BOULEVARD ( II )

As she walks down her mansion’s grand staircase, she passes the sad, confused and horrified throngs of press and police. She’s unaware of them. She walks towards her director, skewed hurly burly music underscores her descent. She walks towards the camera, towards the key light, towards the dark, towards us, towards the past where no one can hurt her again.

SUNSET BOULEVARD SUNSET BOULEVARD ( A )

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BLOGATHON ( OSCAR SNUBS-II ) 2 : 26 - 28 : 2016

When you see these last two shots, you might think of “Sunset Boulevard”  as a caricature of a story of a star gone mad. The Norma Desmond glare could be an over-the-top thing. But if you give yourself into the story, into Swanson’s performance it’s a sad one indeed. It left me weepy this time ’round. I wonder how Swanson’s contemporaries from the Silent era felt watching this film. What ghosts haunted them as they sat eating their popcorn. I’ll bet it was terrifying to some survivors. Could they have felt betrayed by Swanson, airing the dirty laundry of their forgotten past? With my entry in this blogathon I hoped to make my best case for Gloria Swanson to win that Academy Award with no disrespect to Bette Davis in All About Eve or Judy Hollidays marvelous performance in Born Yesterday ( which bowled me over when I came in being dead set against Judy Judy Judy. And you must make some time to read Citizen Screens blog post in Once Upon A Screen where she thoughtfully lays out 1950s Oscar race to remember. )  I think Swanson poured her soul into that part. She probably KNEW some Norma Desmonds along the way. How else would someone end, spending much of their life being idolized and taken care of and being in FRONT of the camera. Norma Desmond goes out in a “blaze of glory” ~ the Hollywood way. 

Click this banner for some more Oscar snubs as others make their case for their choice of Oscar misfires. 

What becomes a legend most? Prepared to be amazed:

[   H O M E   ]

 
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31 thoughts on “SUNSET BOULEVARD ( 1950 )

  1. What a nuisance. I wrote a comment and somehow it wasn’t published. So here goes again.
    I think this is one of your best reviews ever. YOU deserve an Oscar for film writing.

    Of course I agree that Gloria should have won the Oscar – amazing performance after ten years away from filming. And you are so right that Montgomery Clift wouldn’t haven’t had that cynical edge that Holden provided.

    It’s ironic that Cecil B.DeMille was still very active in Hollywood though he was from the same era as Norma.

    I love some of your descriptive phrases – “….mad woman of Chaillot by way of Beverly Hills” ;
    “… Then they boiled down the script in oil…….”
    And “… Sending me back to cinematherapy.”
    ps: I love As Good As It Gets!

    Liked by 1 person

    • “I think this is one of your best reviews ever. YOU deserve an Oscar for film writing.” – Vienna

      WHOA!!!

      Hello again Vienna…and thank you so much for your comments. ( I believe the way WordPress works, or the way I set it up ) is if someone types up a comment and presses send…I ALWAYS get it. But on MY end I must “Approve” the comment. I get an e-mail notification that someone has commented…plus I can see a comment has been made ‘cuz that part of the menu is highlighted. And lastly, I ALWAYS respond to comments in a timely manner. It’s the polite thing to do. So there you have it, the boring crux of the machinations of WordPress. )

      I went over-the-top in my writing of “SUNSET BOULEVARD” to sort of match Swanson’s wild performance.I thought she did a fantastic job…but then it’s Billy!Billy!Billy Wilder who’s the driving force. It’s not so ironic to me that DeMille was still active as Swanson was not. He’s a man, and a director…and in the power position. “Sunset Boulevard” is quite a ride. Thank you for taking the ride with me.

      ( I’d have given Jack the award for “A Few Good Men” instead of “As Good As It Gets.” IMHO. )

      Like

  2. Sunset Boulevard is one of my all time favorites on so many levels: women’s equality, aging, industries that use and abuse-the list goes on. I can’t see how this movie was overlooked.

    You need to do a film festival of overlooked movies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there Sheila! That’s a good theme for a festival…and for a post. I’d need your help compiling that list.

      I had to chuckle at your comment. “…women’s equality, aging, industries that use and abuse-the list goes on. I can’t see how this movie was overlooked.” You listed the very reasons WHY the movie was probably overlooked. Billy Wilder pulls no punches.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it, Teach.

      Like

  3. “Cut away from ME??” 1950 was extremely competitive for Best Actress. It’s a bummer that Judy H. won, since she played the role a million times on Broadway. (not fair!). Yes, she was funny, and Bette was divinely bitchy, BUT Gloria is simply irresistible..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gloria totally won me over, especially this last time I saw it…and seeing this with my newly opened Billy Wilder eyes. Gosh, that guy can do no wrong.Thanks for reading and stopping by here, man.

      Like

  4. Brilliant brilliant brilliant – love your writing, your blog and your incisive breakdown of this classic film. You are SO right that Gloria Swanson does NOT take this performance over the top…she goes right to the edge, but you still care about and understand her motivation. Beautifully done by Swanson. It is definitely an Oscar-worthy performance, but I believe Bette Davis’s equally strong role in All About Eve cancelled the pair out, leaving the field open for that delightful Judy Holliday performance.

    Love your blog, look forward to visiting again soon!
    -Chris

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Chris…thank you very much. I appreciate the compliment.

      One of my friends wrote a wonderful post on how she thinks the Best Actress Oscar for 1950, played itself out. You can read it at the ONCE UPON A SCREEN Blog that makes a lot of sense. “All About Eve” remains one of my favorite films.

      Thanks again for stopping by and checking out my blog, Chris. I hope you continue to find small nuggets of enjoyment here on ‘the Couch.’

      Like

  5. Brilliant argument in defence of Gloria Swanson – who do we call about this outrage?!

    So many thoughts about your post, so here they are, randomly… (And thanks for the shout-out!)

    1. Tony Curtis ABSOLUTELY should have won an Oscar for Sweet Smell of Success.
    2. William Holden was a much better choice than Monty Clift, in my opinion. Like you said, Holden has a cynical edge, but not so much that you don’t want to cheer for him.
    3. Swanson was larger then life, to be sure, but she didn’t turn herself into a parody, and THAT takes skill. Really, she’s quite an unlikeable character, but you can’t help but admiring her. Only someone with an incredible talent (like Swanson) could pull that off.
    4. A heart-breaking scene when she goes to Paramount Studios. Beautifully done.
    5. Loved your phrase “Chateau Crazy”!

    Such a great post. I agree with the previous commenter who said you deserve an Oscar for this analysis. Brava!

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Brilliant argument in defence of Gloria Swanson – who do we call about this outrage?!”

      Girl, I don’t think we can talk to anyone about that outrage. It’s one we’re going to sadly have to live with. 😦

      I like your random thoughts. I tried to make a case for Tony Curtis on my post about “Sweet Smell of Success.” What a driving force he was.

      I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Thanks so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I stopped watching Oscars when BRAVEPUKE and DANCES IN WOOFDooDoo won everything. I’ve always disliked “11 noms for one film” year as if no other film existed, much less winning so many. I avoid going back and looking this horrible snubs because, if I’d realized Swanson hadn’t won, I’d have clicked them off back in the ’60s.

    But thanks for such a wonderful commentary on SUNSET B. It is absolutely one of the most disturbing films and one that’s cloaked this almost comedy-of-errors telling by the Deadpool Joe.

    I’d have put up George Murphy for his ARNELO AFFAIR performance. I’d have put him up for his incredible death scene in BORDER INCIDENT, but that’s part-George, part-cinematog John Alton and of course director Anthony Mann.

    Well… too many snubs. I think Swanson was cheated for exactly that “too close to home” issue, and of course Wilder would be sitting at the witch’s cauldron, stirring exactly that pot. “Let ’em TRY to shut me up!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • G-L-O-R-I-A!

      George Murphy? Ha! Where’d you come up with that milquetoast? He’s not that strong in “The Arnelo Affair” and I love that movie. But I was totally impressed with him in “Border Incident.” I showed him some love in a post I wrote in a guest post I wrote for the Once Upon A Screen blog, which can be checked out HERE.

      I don’t mind films getting a slew of nominations. Some films are really crafted well on so many fronts ( acting~directing~cinematography~costuming~
      editing~sound design~music etc. ) I have to trot out the old tried and true “Gone With the Wind.” On soooo many fronts that film just hit it out of the park whereas other films were nominated for just one or two of those crafts. ( The ‘31 Days of Oscar Blogathon’ is actually highlighting THE CRAFTS.

      I’ve been watching the Oscars ever since Sidney Poitier and Julie Christie won their awards. I’ve been unhappy with some of the Academy’s choices over the years, but as they said in “Brokeback Mountain”: “I wish I could quit them.” But I can’t.

      Thanx for taking the time to read, Ollie.

      Like

  7. “Over the top”. Well, I have to say that I thought the role was over the top, but that’s exactly why I like it. Unfortunately for me, Gloria Swanson and Norma Desmond are virtually inseparable. I can’t watch any Gloria Swanson movie without thinking of Norma Desmond. Which only goes to prove how iconic a role it was, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Quiggy ~ The inseparability of movie star and movie role is sometimes the risk one takes when they’ve given a performance they truly have made their own; like a hand in a glove. Thanks for including my entry in your blogathon this weekend.

      Like

  8. What a great post. You always do such a wonderful job. I think history has proven that this is THE film of all films that deserves all of the highest honors. Madame and Max rocked!

    Like

  9. Terrific analysis and post (photos etc) on one of the really heartbreaking snubs. Using Oscar logic, which goes beyond the performance/film itself, I think Swanson should have won because this was certainly her last chance for a win, and she had been in her day as big as Madonna was in hers, one of the biggest stars of the 1920s. Weirdly, during the ceremony, which she watched in New York with other nominees, they seated her almost next to Judy… Swanson wearing a rather Norma-like vail. When Judy won, Swanson kind of lost it, and that moment should NOT have been immortalized (I saw the photo yesterday on Facebook).

    You make so many good points and excellent observations… anyway, totally agree with you that the award was Swanson’s—they just didn’t give it to her. She was robbed.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve always found it amusing that the fictional screenplays they talk about in old movies (in this case, it’s about a baseball player, then it’s about the lives of struggling school teachers) always sound perfectly dreadful. It’s as if the screenwriters of the film we are watching were afraid that the fictional films the characters talk about would be more interesting!

    I’ve noticed this often over the years (sometimes it’s a fictional novel or play). Someday, I’ll have to compose a list. The only other example that comes to mind at the moment is “Marjorie Morningstar” (1958) where Gene Kelly’s character writes a musical called “Princess Jones”, and describes it to skeptical investors as some turgid thing with dream ballets. Deservedly, in the movie, it flops on Broadway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so ironic you write this Funbud. The other night I had on Crawford in Torch Song and I had the very same thought…but about musical numbers.

      Torch

      How many movies do we see where we see pieces of shows put on during a full dress rehearsal, but we never see the entire show. Your list would be very interesting. Thanx for your comment! 🙂

      Like

    • It’s so ironic you write this Funbud. The other night I had on Crawford in Torch Song and I had the very same thought…but about musical numbers.

      Torch

      How many movies do we see where we see pieces of shows put on during a full dress rehearsal, but we never see the entire show. Your list would be very interesting. Thanx for your comment! 🙂

      Like

  11. Wonderful post as always, your blog is a delight to read.

    Swanson’s oversight is the BIGGEST Oscar injustice in the history of the award (Judy Garland / A Star is Born runs a close second). I agree that the film has come to represent more than the sum of its parts, but that still doesn’t rectify the fact that SWANSON SHOULD’VE WON. Yes, ‘Norma’ is very much ‘Gloria’ but it was a wonderful performance that probably cut too close to the bone for the judges. What makes the film a success was probably it’s undoing – Hollywood didn’t want to be seen to agree with the seedy underbelly exposed.

    On a side note, there’s a stage performance of Sunset Boulevard in London at the moment with Glenn Close as Norma. I can’t wait to see it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Do tell us how Glenn Close’s Norma Desmond compares to the great Gloria Swanson. I remember Glenn playing this here on Broadway but I hadn’t seen it. I like what you wrote here: “What makes the film a success was probably it’s undoing – Hollywood didn’t want to be seen to agree with the seedy underbelly exposed.” Yeh. Who wants the spotlight on them in that instance, right? Thank you again for reading my thoughts and enjoying my blog. I appreciate it.

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  12. Pingback: WILLIAM HOLDEN | CineMaven's ESSAYS from the COUCH

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