When I issued the challenge of Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Sunset Blvd (1950), with the caveat that you couldn't use that final close up for Mr DeMille, I knew it would make for a great episode. What a stone cold classic it is, filled with potent images in every scene that are too often taken for granted given the combined impact of its haunting iconic opening and closing. What I had dumbly not remembered was how intoxicatingly full Sunset Blvd feels on every repeat viewing inbetween. You can go into each screening with one topic in mind ("I shall write about this") and come out with a dozen more topics boiling, your original thoughts crowded out of the mind's frame. So I must painfully set aside the self-deprecating script, the gestural bravado, the timelessness of its time capsule, its shame-trigger economics and sexuality. So much of it distracts from the real purpose of HMWYBS which is to zero in on a particular image from a public piece of art that seizes your individual imagination with its beauty or thematic resonance or what not, and discuss.
So Joe McGillis will have to wait. Which is a shame. He's worth at least 11 essays of his own according to my easily distracted notes. They're messier than Norma's epic handwritten "Salome" opus which visually buries Joe long before she works up enough actual crazy to really bury him. [More...]