This movie is an essential part of American history and is incredibly ahead of its time. A story of Hollywood and the extreme toxicity that entails the industry, this movie manages to blend together noir and comedy in this strange blend that works very well. The premise is on the subject of a screenwriter in the dumps and a faded silent film star who takes him into her mansion. Their relationship is complex and executed perfectly. They are both not necessarily good people, both using each other for personal gain. Norma Desmond, the estranged film star wishes to use his writing abilities to create a script that will launch her back into the limelight, and Joe Gillis (played by William Holden), the noir archetype screenwriter uses her for free material wealth and housing.
The nature of Hollywood is reflected perfectly, personified through these grey characters. Norma is addicted to the idea of popularity and being someone who is important and powerful, while Joe begins to create scripts for the sole purpose of gaining capital and not of any meaning to sell himself out. This is an excellent representation of the shift in nature from the silent era to the talkies during the golden age.
Why this movie is genuinely good is because it was created in 1950. This movie is one of the first to satirize Hollywood, and easily the most influential at that. I used to have a mindset that claimed that a movie from anytime should be held to the same standards of today. However, since then, I have been teased with “well that means Van Gogh is an idiot”. This changed my perspective with that simple phrase and I have since believed that we stand on the shoulder of giants. I believe I can see older movies from a perspective that can both give them slack as it is before we evolved further, and a perspective that gives equality to all films. This movie is very good for its time. The following paragraph will list technical details in perspective for the time of release.
The acting is superb, and each performance brings subtle details that bring the characters to life. The casting is excellent, with Norma being played by a silent actor who is no longer in the limelight herself, Max a director in that regard. the brooding darkness of each shot that adds to the dripping flavor creates a mysterious atmosphere.
This movie is not afraid to get its hands dirty and I bring this up due to the unconventional nature for when it was released, such as the gag with the dead monkey in the casket, or the entire ending sequence, which solidifies the whole experience into something worthwhile. I love the Buster Keaton cameo, the whole thing really works well, and hit the nail on the head before Singin’ in the Rain was released a whole three years prior, and a whole sixty-one years prior to The Artist.
I am so fascinated by how the pool shot was filmed, although I don’t wish to spoil things within my film thoughts articles, so I implore you to research that on your own. I love how creative people had to get to work around limitations especially back then. Another shot I admired was the mirror shot of Norma when Joe is speaking with her on New Year’s Eve, I don’t believe many films had gotten around to that point of introspection with their direction quite yet from my experience.
Some things I disliked about this film was the almost seemingly way too quick of change for Norma at the end, it felt unprompted and not properly built up to. I also did not think there was enough visual showing, and more telling through dialogue, which is 99% of the time going to be a no from me.
Overall this movie is a yes from me, and it is very interesting to notice the roots of so many satirical works of Hollywood all seemingly leaking out from this. In one word, I’d describe the movie as interesting. It provokes a manner of different ideas, but to today’s standards, it is not up there. But that’s not necessarily bad. They just don’t make movies like they used to