By Andrew Harwood
Film is one of the oldest and most celebrated art forms. From award to festival seasons, film has become much more than just entertainment.
I like to think of myself as a film buff, i.e. someone who loves cinema and knows a great deal about it. Do I know everything about film? Not in the slightest. Have I watched a lot of movies? You know it. Does that make me qualified to write a blog on film? We’re going to find out.
Starting off this week, with “film noir.”
“Film noir” is a term that references a style of filmmaking characterized by cynical attitudes, intricate plots and problematic characters. Beginning in 1946, the term became associated with dashing crime dramas of the ‘40s and ‘50s that utilized black and white visuals and low lighting.
This period of movies elevated American film noir to its pinnacle with films such as “The Third Man,” “The Touch of Evil,” “Maltese Falcon” and the focus of this week’s blog, “Sunset Boulevard.”
Directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, “Sunset Boulevard” centers on the relationship between an unsuccessful screenwriter, played by William Holden and a fading silent-film star played by Gloria Swanson who dreams of making a return to the silver screen.
Shot in black and white with a heavy focus on low light, “Sunset Boulevard” delves into the inner mystic of Hollywood with its eerie visual style evoking a menacing and uncomfortable setting that draws the audience into the underlying melodrama it becomes.
Though not considered to be a criminal drama film, “Sunset Boulevard” is full of action and drama. With the frenzy that is the business of Hollywood, added with delusion, a loaded gun and a humble abode, what seemed to be a promising friendship soon turns sour. It is only a matter of time until a body floats in a West Hollywood pool with an infamous closing sentence to put the cherry on top, “All right, Mr. Demille, I’m ready for my close-up.”
Everything about Wilder’s 1950 example of American film noir is astounding, making it a must-see for both cinema lovers and the curious type.