On Thursday evening, Daniel and I watched some Crazy movies. I mean capital C, literal Crazy. The first was Sunset Blvd., the 1950 movie starring William Holden and Gloria Swanson. It was wild. It was about a woman who became famous as a silent movie star, but soon faded into obscurity after movies began using sound and other effects. She lives with her servant, Max. Joe Gillis is a failed screenwriter who is trying to avoid losing his car to pay for old debts. After he gets a flat tire and turns into what he thinks to be a deserted drive, he stumbles upon the mansion housing the former star Norma Desmond. She is trying her hand at screenwriting in order to make her big comeback. Throughout the movie, you begin to understand that this woman has slowly lost her mind and will never make a comeback. Her servant Max writes phony fan mail to her every day and lies to her about having fans to keep her from attempting suicide. It’s a great movie and it made the line “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up” famous. I’m so glad I borrowed this film on a whim. It did not disappoint.
The second film we watched was Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck. I borrowed the film simply because it was Hitchcock and starred two fantastic actors; I thought I couldn’t go wrong. Ingrid Bergman plays a psychiatrist who falls in love with a patient played by Gregory Peck. As we watched the credits, we noticed that Salvador Dalí’s name was listed as having designed a dream sequence within the movie. This got me very excited, because you know it’s going to be nuts if Dalí is involved. Throughout the movie, Bergman’s character is trying to help Peck’s character work through his amnesia, which was triggered after witnessing a traumatic event. He is wanted for the murder of another psychiatrist, although Bergman’s character is convinced that he did not commit this murder. It has some true Hitchcock moments in it, but I wouldn’t say the end was similar to many of his other films. It was a phenomenal movie. Usually Hitchcock films leave me feeling uneasy at the end, but not this one. This was probably one of the greatest films I’ve seen in a long time. It left me with a very satisfied feeling, while presenting a compelling story in an artistically interesting way.
On a side note, part of Spellbound does take place in Rochester, New York, although none of it was shot here. It was still interesting to see our small city on a map mounted to the wall in one of the scenes. For a brief moment, we even spotted the bend in the Genesee where the University of Rochester’s campus is located. It’s always exciting to see your town as a setting for a movie.