"Sunset Boulevard" Vamps Downtown - NBC Southern California

"Sunset Boulevard" Vamps Downtown

A fabled Hollywood-skewering movie gets its downtown close-up.



    "Sunset Boulevard" Vamps Downtown
    Getty Images
    Billy Wilder (L) and American film director Cecil B. DeMille stand on either side of American actor Gloria Swanson on the set of Wilder's film "Sunset Boulevard" in 1950. The film screens at Million Dollar Theatre on Saturday, May 31. (Photo by Getty Images)

    Spoiler alert: Hollywood isn't subtle. It can shout, bang a person over the head with the moral of the story, kick up lots of dust, and sell any storyline with the heaviest of hands.


    And sometimes magic happens, and, in the case of "Sunset Boulevard," it happened fairly early in Tinseltown's timeline. The landmark film will screen downtown at the Million Dollar Theatre on Saturday, May 31. The outfit behind the night? Alison Martino's retro-smart Vintage LA, which is presenting the flick as part of its larger noir series.

    Vintage LA and Billy Wilder's magnum opus are a fine fit. "Sunset Boulevard" arrived at the dawn of America's Most Optimistic Decade -- hello, 1950s -- but it couldn't have been darker, funnier, or more on target about the film business and its tangled, ego-fueled dreams.

    You know the particulars: Norma Desmond, a gothic pile of a mansion, a mysterious butler, an ambitious young screenwriter, a swimming pool, a staircase, delusions and dreams.

    And a young ingenue played by actress Nancy Olson. Ms. Olson will stop by the screening for a Q&A with Ms. Martino, so that's a treat. Fingers crossed that she dishes on dishy William Holden, just a bit, but, of course, on working with Gloria Swanson, Erich Von Stroheim, and the gifted Mr. Wilder.

    Tickets? Ten dollars. A bonus? Grand Central Market will stay open through 8 p.m. to serve pre-movie dinner-seekers.

    Another bonus? The Million Dollar Theatre will soon mark its 100th birthday. Like several other theaters on Broadway, the Million Dollar reigned in the day much discussed in "Sunset Boulevard," when actresses like Norma Desmond were big (and pictures were bigger, to riff on the film's most oft-repeated line).

    So it feels right to see this movie in the kind of venue that might have show Norma Desmond's early pictures. Fiction meets reality meets location, if you will, with a dash of Vintage LA verve thrown in to sweeten the Hollywood-style satire.

    Hold the phone: Did we say the "pictures got small" is the most famous "Sunset Boulevard" line? How dare we, when "I'm ready for my close-up" is practically Hollywood's official tagline?

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