You know what a Cougar is, right? A kickass SSS woman who pursues or accepts dates with much younger men. Several years ago, when I was single, people called me a Cougar. A hot fireman, 20 years younger than I, asked me out on a few dates. My kids were appalled and my mother cheered me on! We just didn’t have enough in common to keep it going longer. Later, I was in a one-year relationship with a guy 8 years younger. Then there was one who was only 40 days younger. I guess he doesn’t count, right?
I genuinely liked and was attracted to these men initially. In case you’re wondering, they pursued me. I didn’t need a younger man to feel younger myself. I didn’t need anyone to take care of me.
It was fun, for awhile, then I got bored. We obviously weren’t on the same wavelength, at all.
Sunset Boulevard is the story of a leading lady who had an ulterior motive for seeking a younger man. She did need a younger man to make her feel younger and she wanted to be loved and revered. She was rolling in dough and fame; that was how she lured him.
Relationships like these usually end badly. This one ended worse than ‘badly’!
!Warning! Spoilers! If you plan to see this movie, you’ll want to save this post to read after viewing.
Sunset Boulevard, the famed Hollywood street, is representative of the film industry. Billy Wilder, a well-known screenwriter, brought us the movie Sunset Boulevard in 1950 about an aging silent film actress, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) and a hack writer, Joe Gillis (William Holden) who form a sort of partnership. Watch the short trailer and I’ll fill in the gaps when you’ve finished.
It won 3 Academy Awards and is ranked #16 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Greatest Films of the 20th century.
Some have called it a classic horror movie and others questioned whether it was a dark comedy or a drama. Whatever way you choose to classify it, it stands as a great example of noir film and an interesting twist in fiction writing.
Joe Gillis is the narrator, however he’s dead in the water, literally, when the movie opens. Norma Desmond killed him and now he’s going to tell us what happened.
A dead man walking?
Joe Gillis is broke and can’t seem to get anyone to buy his screenplay. Creditors are after him and he winds up in a car chase with the repo guys. Upon getting a flat tire, he finds himself in front of Norma Desmond’s mansion and decides to hide his car in her garage.
Norma first takes him for an undertaker based on his clothes but lets him in as he explains his story. She commandeers him for help in writing a screenplay of her own to boost her all but faded career.
Norma takes it upon herself to move him into the mansion, without his permission, and pays his apartment rent in arrears. He accepts (the cad!) since it’s better than going back to the Midwest to work for little money, and no recognition, at a local newspaper.
While working together, she falls in love with him.
She expects gratitude, which he gives but he’s shocked she’s fallen for him and tells her he wants to make his own life and choose his own women. She’s desperate for him and threatens to kill herself to get him back. It works only temporarily.
He falls for a younger screenwriter, Betty, who sees little value in his writing. Norma is so jealous, she calls the young woman and tells her that Joe is a cad (told ya!) and wants to expose the way he’s been living. Joe invites Betty to see for herself. Betty isn’t a happy girl. She drives away from the whole sordid situation.
Joe decides to go back to his Midwest home. He packs and starts to leave, ignoring Norma’s threats to kill herself.
But, she’s gone mad. She shoots him, instead of killing herself, leaving him dead in the water, and we’re right back at the beginning of the movie.
Life as a Cougar isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Norma wasn’t your average, everyday Cougar, though. She was a “has-been” and seriously looney!
If you were a movie critic, how would your review read? What do you think about the narrator being a dead man? Do you think it works for this film, or should Hollywood have trashed it?
More importantly – Have you dated much younger men? How did it all work out? Dish it, ladies!