For me, the creepiest thing about Sunset Boulevard isn’t Norma Desmond’s clownish, Dee Snider-like expressions or William Holden‘s descent into some seriously gray gardens. It’s that the characters in the film make such casual references to other movie stars of the time — Barbara Stanwyck, Tyrone Power, Alan Ladd, and Betty Hutton all come up — that you feel like you’re listening to modern-day showbiz types in a 1950 movie. These people sound like tamer Nikki Finkes. It’s weird! I’m not used to people in old movies sounding real and current. What if Grace Kelly just turned to the camera in Rear Window and deadpanned, “I don’t find Hannah sympathetic on Girls“? It’s like that!
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