Today! Because I am big, it’s the pictures that got small –
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Directed by Billy Wilder (x2)
Starring Gloria Swanson, William Holden, Nancy Olson, Erich von Stroheim, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough (x2), Jack Webb, Cecil B. DeMille, Hedda Hopper (x2), Buster Keaton, H.B. Warner, Anna Q. Nilsson
Even for movies about movies, which lean heavy on this formula, Sunset Boulevard’s art-imitating-life bent is almost head-spinning. By many indications, Gloria Swanson was only amping up her own persona slightly in playing damaged, faded silent star Norma Desmond, while her former director turned butler Max Von Mayerling was played by accomplished Austrian actor Erich von Stroheim, who had himself directed Swanson in the 1929 drama Queen Kelly. Cecil B. DeMille appears as himself, as do Buster Keaton, H.B. Warner, and Anna Q. Nilsson. While Hollywood cameos in Hollywood-set films is nothing new, it’s the fact that these folks would play such degraded, forgotten versions of themselves in 1950, when former silent actors were basically out on the curb, that makes it all the more remarkable.
Aww, poor Buster
Today! Because I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop –
Some Like it Hot (1959)
Directed by Billy Wilder
Starring Jack Lemmon (x2), Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe, George Raft, Joe E. Brown, Pat O’Brien, Nehemiah Persoff, Joan Shawlee
We close out the first hundred list films with the movie the AFI declared the best comedy of all-time, on their list some 19 years ago now (19 years! Gah!). It’s a solid cross-dressing caper, with two on-the-run musicians joining up with an all-girl band, and sexy hijinks ensue. It’s the backbone of all comedy, before a certain point! It’s funny because they’re dressed as girls and they use funny voices! Plus, Marilyn Monroe’s acting doesn’t really destroy anything! But the best comedy of all-time?
I mean, I get it – the AFI is big into the history of film, as opposed to praising new, flashy things. And being the movie with the most jokes, or the funniest jokes, doesn’t necessarily make you the best comedy. But Some Like it Hot is so much like so many other movies that even though it does what it does very well, and with very high caliber performances from Lemmon and Curtis, is it really that amazing? Also, not to bang on the AFI too too much, but the number two movie on their comedy list? Also a cross dressing comedy. Come on, folks!
Funny as is it, Tootsie did not make this list