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Entries in Sunset Blvd (4)


Top Ten 1950s

This will be the last top ten off the top of my head whole decade thingies for a bit -- we need to get to real articles but I've been swamped off blog. But these discussions are fun, don't you agree? The 1950s were the first film decade I was obsessed with in that when I was first becoming interested in cinema in the mid 80s, the 50s somehow came to signify MYTHIC CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD to me, though cinema obviously stretched much much further back. So I guess I'll always be kind of attached to this decade when the movies got literally bigger (I do so prefer rectangulars to squares) and the era's stars really defined (at least for me) the concept of "Movie Star". I mean it's hard to argue with LIZ, BRANDO, CLIFT, DEAN, MONROE in all caps.

Which is why GIANT is such a perfect 1950s movie in so many ways even if it doesn't make my top ten


  1. Sunset Boulevard
  2. Singin' in the Rain
  3. A Place in the Sun
  4. A Streetcar Named Desire
  5. Night of the Hunter
  6. All About Eve
  7. Some Like it Hot
  8. Rear Window
  9. Sleeping Beauty
  10. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes


ask me again tomorrow and maybe i'd vote for: All That Heaven Allows, Ben-Hur, Vertigo, Rebel Without a Cause, Imitation of Life, and A Star is Born
or maybe... Roman Holiday, Strangers on a Train, On the Waterfront, East of Eden, Breathless, Giant and From Here to Eternity ... 

What are you favorite 50s films?

Nina Foch & William Holden in "Executive Suite"Here's a few more notes from me on this CINEMASCOPE decade...

childhood favs (not all of them aged well)Brigadoon, Auntie Mame, The King and I, How to Marry a Millionaire, Kiss Me Kate, The Ten Commandments, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

underappreciated these days but that doesn't make them any less awesome: Face in the Crowd, Executive Suite, Black Orpheus, It Should Happen To You, Magnificent Obsession and Written on the Wind

I should probably rewatch: 400 Blows, High Noon, La Strada

I am not a fan of The African Queen, Gigi, or The Country Girl and I'm even cool on An American in Paris despite my beloved Gene Kelly.

Previous Top Ten Quickies
1930s | 1970s | 1980s


Bunheads: Eternal Sunshine of the Psychotic Mind

SusanP here, back with more Bunheads coverage. It’s good to see some fans out there are also Film Experience people. For those of you haven’t watched the show, it’s a safe bet you’ll enjoy it if you love the work of either series star Sutton Foster or creator Amy Sherman-Palladino. For the rest, I’d still encourage you to give the show a try. There’s really nothing else like it on television right now. 

Previously on Bunheads… 
“Take the Vicuna” was directed by actor/writer/director, Chris Eigeman, who is probably best known for his work in Whit Stillman films like Barcelona. He also played Jason Stiles on Sherman-Palladino’s Gilmore Girls and a one-off character on Bunheads last summer. Eigeman stopped by the comments this past Monday and offered a heads-up as to what “Take the Vicuna” refers to: it’s a line from the Billy Wilder film noir, Sunset Boulevard. The reference works on a number of levels as the characters deal with issues of control – something Norma Desmond and Joe Gillis wrestled with in that 1950 classic. 

Those issues play out in the three major storylines [more after the jump]:

Click to read more ...


Distant Relatives: Sunset Blvd and The Artist 

Robert here w/ Distant Relatives, exploring the connections between one classic and one contemporary film.

How does one begin to discuss The Artist in terms of just one distant relative? The film is a paean to all films silent-era Hollywood and enough films stretching far beyond the silent-era including Singin' in the Rain and A Star is Born, to which it owes story elements, Citizen Kane from which it borrows specific conceits and Vertigo... well, we'll leave that one alone. But I think the connection that intrigues me the most is notable not for what the two films have in common, but in how they differ.
The Artist tells the story of dashing silent film actor George Valentin and his fall from grace juxtaposed against rising talkie star Peppy Miller who, in a cruel twist of fate, is an ingenue he discovered. Sunset Blvd enters the world of former silents star Norma Desmond as discovered by aspiring screenwriter Joe Gillis, a world overgrown with bitterness, denial and impending senility.

Sunset Blvd is in a way the anti-Artist. If you started with one similar concept and gave the script to a half-glass-full director and a half-glass-empty director, you'd quite possibly end up with The Artist and Sunset Blvd. The similarities are obvious enough. Both films are about silent stars whose downfalls hasten when "words, words, words" make their way into motion pictures, soon making them quite irrelevant. George Valentin and Norma Desmond suffer the same fate, and the requisite eventual drinking and depression. The only difference is, Norma's "savior" finds her many years too late.
I use the term "savior" pretty liberally here, since this is where the films' paths really start to diverge. Peppy and Joe have enough in common. They're young. They're attractive. They're eager to make it into show business. And they have the one thing that Valentin and Desmond do not: potential. Now keep in mind, that's only true as defined by their genres. In a film noir, potential is a hack and a cynic stumbling into a good idea. In a feel-good film it's the rise of a dreamer.
However, these two have polarized motives. Gillis (our hero mind you) is in it for himself. He's using Norma's help to propel his success. Peppy quite contrarily is using her success to help George. And herein lies the reason these films reach their different conclusions, not to mention the reason why one of them is on it way to the Best Picture Oscar while the other didn't win the prize.

It's about appreciation. Peppy appreciates the classics, the silents, the stars. She loves them as we love them. And as our hero (if we can call her that since Valentin doesn't do anything active to save himself) this love propels her to be one of the most decent, morally unimpeachable movie characters in recent years. And then there's Joe. Joe Gillis doesn't care, and vicariously through him, nor do we, and even further than that Sunset Blvd suggests that very few do, and nowhere included in that few is anyone in show business. It's a dark, cynical accusation that no one cares about the old "wax museum" of stars whose talent built up the picture business. It's a sentiment that's not particularly easy to vote for even if it happens to lead a film that is both brilliant and in many ways, honest.

Which makes me wonder, has much changed since 1950? Certainly we now have home video, we have streaming and the internet. The brilliance of the slient era is more accessible than it's ever been, and that allows for a sizable fanbase. And what about within the world of The Artist? Valentin's discovery of Peppy originally seems like a spoonfull of irony but turns out to be uplifting cinematic karma. If she were not there to save him, would anybody? Would Valentin end up just like Norma Desmond? Would The Artist become a cautionary tale instead of an inspirational one?
The Artist was made in 2011 and takes place in the late twenties, early thirties. Sunset Blvd was made in 1950 and takes place in 1950. Therein may lie the ultimate clue to why these very similar films reach very different conclusions. Nostalgia is always inspirational. Reality, not so much.


Links: Haynes, Malick, Madonna, Mitchell

direct this
looks at the entire career of Paul Anderson. No, not that one. The other one, the Paul W.S. Anderson one.
The Telegraph Tim Robey awaits the return of Hollywood's poet Terrence Malick with The Tree of Life and investigates his mystique.
Nick's Flick Picks encounters the first Todd Haynes project he's not totally gaga for: Mildred Pierce. I share his trepidations but like him, am definitely enjoying the details and the actressing.
La Daily Musto John Cameron Mitchell (Rabbit Hole) is even using Kickstarter now? It's a whole new world. This is for funding for an animated film.

in less auteur driven news...
Playbill Here's an interesting idea. Andrew Lloyd Webber doesn't think it will ever happen but he wants Madonna, who already played Evita in his world, for the big screen version of his Sunset Boulevard musical.
Movie|Line Remember Josh Pence, who got that SAG nomination for just his body appearing onscreen with Armie Hammer's face on it in The Social Network? Now we get his face: he's got a role in The Dark Knight Rises. Happy endings.
Twitch Film brings you the winners of the Dallas International Film Festival. Congratulates to this one we're hearing about the first time: Jess + Moss.