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I watched “Sunset Boulevard” tonight.  Familiar with it?  William Holden?  Gloria Swanson? 1950? Black and white?  Yes? No?  It was on the Bonnet Channel tonight. 

I remember the first time I saw it.  I was in New York City staying at my usual hotel at 34th and Lex.  I saw it after a long day of meetings and I was enthralled.  It was one of those films that I’d heard about from my Mother since childhood – the line “I’m ready for my close-up” was commonly heard around our house.  It just took on a whole new significance when I finally saw the film.

Viewing it tonight, it took on a different quality for me.  Perhaps that’s the mark of a good movie – it can somehow match its message to your mood, as if it holds some universal hidden code that is only revealed to you piece by piece when you’re ready for it.

Tonight, I was caught up with the madness of the character of Norma Desmond.  Her obsession with staying young, with staying the star, with ensuring that her public still noticed her, with her devotion to living in the past and with her frantic desperation of staying in control of William Holden, her insanity around her “love” for him.  It was a brilliant portrayal by Gloria Swanson – even if she perhaps did ham it up a bit in spots.  I was so entranced by her and the message of madness that I paid very little attention to William Holden’s character, which is surprising as he has become one of my more favorite actors from the ’50s.

If you’ve seen the film, you know how it ends.  In fact, if you’ve seen the beginning of the film, you probably know how it ends.  But if you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it for you – as long as you promise to watch it.  (Go.  Go on!)  It’s a worthwhile way to spend a chilly evening, and as our world spins crazily around these days, it’s a voyeuristic view inside the mind of a madwoman.

And heaven knows there are too many of those roaming loose these days.

February 2020
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