Baldwin: Alright, Mr. Baldwin, I’m ready for my close-up
Greetings, my fellow leading men and starlets of Winchester.
Time affects us all. Our lives are full of peaks and valleys that we must take in stride while appreciating our small victories as well as learning from the hardships thrown our way.
When our minds become still from the hustle and bustle of the present, we have a tendency to forecast visions of idyllic future feats or pine away pondering our peaks of past performances in life.
This reality of living in the now while maturing from the good old days is also a struggle for famous actors.
Big-named A-list actors are sometimes envied due to their beauty, fame and fortune by star struck fans that are in awe of the celebrity’s mere existence. Celebrity is a curse and the business of the film industry is a toxic environment built on the allure of showcasing the perfect face, weight, age of its performers because it is a visual medium.
Throughout film history, once-beloved thespians of Tinseltown have found themselves shelved and retired like a worn out pair of jeans.
Hollywood does not embrace the normalcy of the aging process, hence why cosmetic surgery is such a necessary procedure in this line of work.
Today’s film has held up after all these years and still rings true while being screened this week in select theaters throughout the Lexington area.
Join me as we venture the corrupt streets of Hollywood and spend some time exploring the award-winning film noir drama classic, “Sunset Boulevard” (1950).
It’s Hollywood 1950 and a downtrodden screenwriter, Joe Gillis, portrayed by William Holden, is struggling to sell his scripts and deep in debt.
While dodging creditors who want to repossess his car, he snags a flat tire and parks his car in the driveway of a mansion on Sunset Boulevard.
Gillis enters the opulent abode to inform the residents of his situation and enters an eccentric world of Hollywood yesteryear, when meeting the former silent-movie star Norma Desmond, Gloria Swanson and her former director turned ex-husband turned faithful servant Max, portrayed by Erich von Stroheim.
Desmond, who is now in her 50s and discarded by Hollywood because of her age, has become a delusional recluse with a belief she was the most important actress to ever grace the screens with a obsessive determination to make a glorious comeback.
Desmond employs Gilles as her own personal screenwriter to help launch her back into the limelight.
The two are attached at the hip for six months as she dives deeper into psychosis feeding her egotistical delusions of grandeur. Gilles becomes a slave, working and love, to his new writing gig as Desmond is erratic, controlling and very possessive of Gilles because of his attentiveness, which is marinated with deceit and desperation because of his dire financial situation.
“Sunset Boulevard” is based on truths of how Hollywood chews up talent and spits them out and parallels the unfortunate retirements of many famous silent movie stars who were put out to pasture because of age and the release of talkies.
“Boulevard” is universal in its themes of success-driven opportunists, acceptance at any cost and the despair of living in one’s past glories.
It is a tragic story, but a lot of fun to watch because of the superb acting and beautiful cinematography coupled with great sets helmed by legendary director Billy Wilder.
If you missed out on “Sunset Boulevard,” don’t fret, as it’s pretty easy to track down a copy to view at your leisure.
I do recommend you view it in HD to fully appreciate the stunning visuals.
The present and future are yours for the taking.
These chapters of time in your life can be the next glorious stories in your book of life, but it’s up to you.
Stay strong, stay positive and don’t let age or the naysayers get you down.
Remember, “You are big; it’s the pictures that got small.”
Have a film-tastic day.
Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker and film/music historian. He is president of the Winchester-Clark County Film Society (facebook.com/WCCfilmsociety). Find more from Rick on Facebook at facebook.com/ricksrhetoric/ and online at theintestinalfortitude.com/category/reviews-editorials/ricks-rhetoric. He is on Twitter @rickbaldwin79 and can be reached by email at email@example.com.