Wednesday, November 24, 2010

TODAY'S NUGGET: #7 WGA Script of All Time - Sunset Boulevard (1950)

[Quick Summary: Joe, a poor screenwriter, becomes a companion/writer for Norma Desmond, an aging star who rapidly becomes more & more unhinged.]

Billy Wilder has 4 of the top 30 scripts ("Double Indemnity", "The Apartment", "Some Like It Hot", & "Sunset Boulevard").

I think Sunset Boulevard takes the cake.

Sure, a guy is also lured into a female's web in Double Indemnity.  But he wasn't facing Norma Desmond, the eight foot black widow spider.

Norma really makes the script.  She's a worthy antagonist because she never lets up. 

ex. Norma traps Joe in a gilded cage & keeps him dependent on her.  When he balks, she punishes him with a suicide attempt.  What a ballsy move.  How can he leave now?

ex. Norma calls Betty to plant doubts about Joe.  She forces Joe to come clean to Betty that he's living off of Norma. 

Of course, this is the last straw.  Norma has pushed Joe to face that he is better off broke in Ohio than in this cage. 

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Norma is no wimp & will not be ignored.  A good antagonist will do that to bring the protagonist up higher. 

I actually admired Joe a lot more by the end because he refused to bow to Norma.  He earned his arc. 

Sunset Boulevard (1950)
by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, & D.M. Marshman, Jr.

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