Recently, we decided to, again, watch Sunset Boulevard, the 1950 classic film, considered the 12th best film in American history. This time, however, we gave it fresh eyes. Scanning for all the little things we may have overlooked or taken for granted in past viewings. It was satisfying to affirm why this has always been our favorite classic film and why we feel its magic everytime.
Upon our recent viewing we also felt lucky. Sunset Boulevard was the classic film that launched us into the world that continues to fascinate and inform our refined style. It is a stunning commentary on the opportunism of Hollywood and the poison that fame can be. A message not only completely relevant to today but even essential. But Sunset Boulevard is stunning in its details. Transporting in a way that we feel few other, even excellent films are. It is to be savored, all senses at the ready.
First the early scenes of the cars driving down Sunset Boulevard, then the view of Norma Desmond’s 1920s Spanish colonial style home and the look of old Los Angeles that we love;
Arches and sweeping hallways, framed spaces…
Then comes Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, entering the picture in a leopard print turban, sunglasses, red lacquered nails (even in black and white, you see red), the stacks of bracelets on her wrists and oversize charms dangling from them taking us captive immediately. She delivers one of many great lines, “I am big, it’s the pictures that got small,” and you become small and she remains big through the entire film.
Echoes of this,
surely set the stage for this,
And still inspires the bold look of this,
There is the gold lame coat and chandelier necklace, casual dress in which Norma Desmond watches her own silent films.
Dries van Noten, took note, the powerful punch of gold ruling his Spring runways,
Only needing a bit of this,
There are beautiful touches to devour everywhere; Joe wearing a Vicuna hair coat, his gold cigarette case, the car rides they take in the Isotta Fraschini. There is the sley bed in Norma’s bedroom and the mirrored room divider, the tiled floors in the ball room, the seminal staircase and great lines delivered with the kind of theatrical flair consistent with the best of the silent movie screen.
Nancy Olson tells of being on set and watching the set designers crush pumice between their hands and blow the dust over the film set’s living room to create the feel of aging splendor – the home as well as the star herself. The eye cannot pick up the dust,
but can sense the attention to detail that made absolutely every frame divine. This is a film that one slathers oneself in, marinates in, absorbing a richer experience than words can even describe. While the message may be bitter, the tale is decadent and sweet, current and of great style…
Images via film-grab, apartment therapy, citizens of fashion, broke snob, style