Monday, March 29, 2010

Gloria Swanson in "Sunset Boulevard"

Gloria Swanson received her third Oscar nomination (and last) for playing forgotten silent movie star Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard.

Sunset Boulevard follows Joe Gillis, a struggling writer, and his relationship with the forgotten actress.

The best thing I can say about Gloria Swanson is: what a performance!

Once Joe Gillis becomes more entangled in Norma's life, he soon sees she is deeply troubled. This provides the material for Swanson to exile in. She shows Norma is not really crazy, just tragic. Holding on to insane dreams, she is still famous and her film career will be revived. She offers Joe to live in her mansion (and her dreamworld) and proposes he help her write a screenplay that will be her long awaited cinema comeback. In the midst of all this, he becomes her lover.

Norma Desmond is a character that requires the actress to go over the top, and still make it believable. Amazingly, Gloria Swanson, not only nails it, but gives a mind blowing performance.

She adds so much texture and layers to Norma Desmond's personality, and in all respect, this must have been from Gloria Swanson's own life. While she was a great star, she practically disappeared when the talking pictures came into play, so this makes it all more amazing, because Swanson isn't playing herself, just adding her own experiences to a brilliantly written character.

Another amazing aspect of Swanson's performance is how she handles the more crazy scenes. Without seeming too fake, she really makes you believe the woman is sad, lonely, and borderline insane.

I try not to think of a performance's iconic status when I watch it, but I'll make the exception here. This performance is iconic. Many people have tried to imitate, copy, or illuminate the beautiful performance Swanson brought to the screen, and most have failed.

And her exit....that scene alone is worth an Oscar if you ask me.

For her brilliance of bringing a forgotten silent star, trying for a comeback, whilst trapped in a dreamworld, Gloria easily gives one of the best performances of all time.


joe burns said...

Great review!

Celso said...

A performance for the ages! Iconic! Swanson was big and Sunset Blvd. never got small ;)
Great work, Sage!

Sage Slowdive said...

Thanks Celso!

Fritz said...

A really fantastic performance! And Sunset Boulevard is such an amazing movie!

Twister said...

Intetesting write up, good job!