Flashback: Sunset Boulevard

Åpningscenen i Billy Wilders udødelige klassiker Sunset Boulevard (1950) er bare 2 minutter og 40 sekunder lang, men setter så grøssende presist opp sitt forlokkende premiss at det nesten er umulig å ikke ville se videre.

Filmkritiker Roger Ebert har, naturligvis, inkludert filmen i sin samling av Great Movies, og har skrevet en lang og innsiktsfull artikkel om hvordan Sunset Boulevard kanskje bedre enn noen annen film makter å portrettere Hollywood selv:

The movie cuts close to the bone, drawing so directly from life that many of the silent stars at the movie’s premiere recognized personal details. In no character, not even Norma, does it cut closer than with Max von Mayerling, a once-great silent director, now reduced to working as the butler of the woman he once directed--and was married to. There are unmistakable parallels with von Stroheim, who directed Swanson in «Queen Kelly» (1928), whose credits included «Greed» and «The Merry Widow,» but who directed only two sound films and was reduced to playing Nazi martinets and parodies of himself in other people’s films.

In «Sunset Boulevard,» Desmond screens one of her old silent classics for Joe Gillis, the young writer played by Holden. Max runs the projector. The scene is from «Queen Kelly.» For a moment Swanson and von Stroheim are simply playing themselves. […] «Sunset Boulevard» remains the best drama ever made about the movies because it sees through the illusions, even if Norma doesn’t. When the silent star first greets the penniless writer inside her mansion, they have a classic exchange. «You used to be big,» he says. Norma responds with the great line, «I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.» Hardly anyone remembers Joe’s next line: «I knew there was something wrong with them.»