Sunset Blvd.

Lecture by Marilyn Fabe

A tale narrated by a dead man, Sunset Blvd. is a brilliantly sardonic look at Hollywood and at the baroqueness of the Germanic influence in American cinema. Billy Wilder, who was born in Vienna and wrote scripts in Berlin before emigrating, was himself never trapped by Germanness. Rather, as the actor Paul Henreid observed, "Wilder was an infinitely talented bad boy who brought everything he had learned in Berlin with him (and gave) it an American translation, an extremely successful translation." But in Sunset Blvd. he toys with Hollywood's own hold on the emigré artist. William Holden's Joe, an "exile" in L.A. (that is, his car has broken down), finds refuge in the mansion, and a virulent succor in the arms, of Gloria Swanson's aging actress, Norma. Joe's noirish cynicism is nothing against the power of Norma's lived dream.

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