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The film workers lived modestly in the growing neighborhood, but during the s, profits and salaries rose to unprecedented levels.
With the advent of the star systemluxurious homes noted for their often incongruous grandeur were built in the area. In the late s, many of the grand Hollywood houses remained, and Wilder, then a Los Angeles resident, found them to be a part of his everyday world.
Many former stars from the silent era still lived in them, although most were no longer involved in the film business. Wilder wondered how they spent their time now that "the parade had passed them by" and began imagining the story of a star who had lost her celebrity and box-office appeal.
It is usually regarded as a fictional composite inspired by several different people, not just a thinly disguised portrait of one in particular. Nevertheless, some commentators have tried to identify specific models. One asserts that Norma Talmadge is "the obvious if unacknowledged source of Norma Desmond, the grotesque, predatory silent movie queen" of the film.
In AugustD. In an effort to keep the full details of the story from Sunset boulevard essay Pictures and avoid the restrictive censorship of the Breen Codethey submitted the script a few pages at a time.
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Only the first third of the script Sunset boulevard essay written when filming began in early Mayand Wilder was unsure how the film would end. He sums up his film-writing career with the remark: There are no belly laughs here, but there are certainly strangled giggles: He remarks that the story is narrated by a dead man whom Norma Desmond first mistakes for an undertaker, while most of the film takes place "in an old, dark house that only opens its doors to the living dead".
He writes that the narrative contains an excess of "cheap sarcasm", but ultimately congratulates the writers for attributing this dialogue to Joe Gillis, who was in any case presented as little more than a hack writer.
When asked if Sunset Boulevard was a black comedyhe replied: Wilder, however, had a different recollection. He recalled first wanting Mae West and Marlon Brando for the leads, but never approached either with an offer. He contacted Pola Negri by telephone, but had a difficult time understanding her heavy Polish accent.
They also asked Norma Shearer if she would portray Norma Desmond, but she rejected the role due to both her retirement and distaste for it. They were considering Fred MacMurray to play opposite her as Joe. The filmmakers approached Greta Garbo, but she expressed no interest.
Wilder and Brackett then visited Mary Pickford, but before even discussing the plot with her, Wilder realized she would consider a role involving an affair with a man half her age an insult, so they departed. They had considered pairing Montgomery Clift with her.
At the peak of her career inshe was said to have received 10, fan letters in a single week, and from until the early s, she lived on Sunset Boulevard in an elaborate Italianate palace.
In many ways, she resembled the Norma Desmond character, and like her, had been unable to make a smooth transition into talking pictures. The similarities ended there.
Swanson accepted the end of her film career, and in the early s moved to New York Citywhere she worked in radioand from the mids, in television and on the New York stage.
Though Swanson was not seeking a comeback, she was intrigued when Wilder discussed the role with her. Why do they want me to audition? He replied that since Norma Desmond was the role for which she would be remembered, "If they ask you to do ten screen tests, do ten screen tests, or I will personally shoot you.
Following an appearance in Our Townhe served in the military in World War IIand his return to the screen afterward had been moderately successful. He was enthusiastic about the script and eager to accept the role.
He calls Norma "young fella" as he had called Swanson. Nilssonand H. Warnerwho like DeMille, played themselves. Wilder had worked with him on several projects before, and trusted his judgment, allowing him to make his own decisions.
Wilder replied, "you know, just your standard monkey funeral shot. The term noir is French for dark. The camera was placed inside a specially constructed box and lowered under water, but the result disappointed Wilder, who insisted on further experiments.
Both are films noir, and he finesses the fact that both are set in the sunniest of locales, Los AngelesJun 27, · Billy Wilder's "Sunset Boulevard” is the portrait of a forgotten silent star, living in exile in her grotesque mansion, screening her old films, dreaming of a comeback.
But it's also a love story, and the love keeps it from becoming simply a waxworks or a freak show. Gloria Swanson gives her 4/4. Famous quotes from Sunset Boulevard with analysis from experts.
This essay on the Broadway version of Sunset Blvd. is by UW Cinematheque Programmer and Project Assistant Amanda McQueen. A restored 35mm print of Sunset Blvd. will screen in our regular venue, Vilas Hall, on Friday, November 7, 7 p.m..
From Wilder to Lloyd Webber: Sunset Boulevard Goes to Broadway By Amanda McQueen. Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder's reflexive and cynical story of . Order our Sunset Boulevard Film Summary Billy Wilder This Study Guide consists of approximately 24 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Sunset Boulevard.
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