Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sunset Blvd. and polls

Gloria Swanson and William Holden in Sunset Blvd. (1950

TCM is showing Billy Wilder's classic Sunset Blvd. tonight at 8:00 PM ET. It's airing in conjunction with the sixth installment of the Moguls and Movie Stars documentary, which this week details the changes in Hollywood brought about by the rise of television.

Sunset Blvd. deals with an unsuccessful screenwriter (Holden) who gets roped into trying to help a former silent-screen star (Swanson) clean up her horribly amateurish screenplay, and is one of the best movies Hollywood made about itself. What, however is the best? This one? Singin' In the Rain (airing at 11:15 PM tonight)? One of the versions of A Star is Born? Or perhaps even the underrated The Bad and the Beautiful.

Holden's character meets Swanson when he's mistaken for an undertaker, in a sequence that involves one of the more interesting funerals you'll see on screen. Which leads me to a second question: What's the best funeral scene in a movie? There are strange one like this; over-the-top funerals, as in Too Many Crooks, and several movies that open up with funerals as a device to flash back to events in the dead person's life. A few of those that come to mind would be in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Chariots of Fire. If I had to pick just one funeral scene, though, my decision today would probably be the one at the end of The Third Man, although that decision might well change if I had more time to think.

What are your favorite "Hollywood on Hollywood" or funeral movies?

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