I absolutely adore this film. Since it was recently added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, I thought it would be a great time to explore this film. It’s one that is often overlooked and I think there’s some irrational anger aimed at it because of Judy Holliday’s win over both Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd. and Bette Davis in All About Eve. But I think that is a load of baloney. This is a great film and while Holliday’s performance may not have reached the iconic status of those other two performances, it is most definitely a deserved win. Billie Dawn is a remarkable character and Holliday plays her to perfection. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one: Best B&W Costume Design, Best Screenplay, Best Actress Judy Holliday (won), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were Father of the Bride, King Solomon’s Mines, Sunset Blvd. and winner All About Eve.
Billie Dawn: All that stuff I’ve been studying, what Paul’s been telling me. It just mixed me up. But when you hit me before it was like everything knocked itself together in my head and made sense. All of the sudden I realized what it means. How some people are always giving and some taking; and it’s not fair. So I’m not gonna let you anymore. [beat] Or anybody else.
When I first netflixed this film I watched it three times before sending it back – twice back-to-back and then a third time the next morning. I was completely blown away with how wonderful it was, from start to finish. I know a lot of people consider Some Like It Hot to be Billy Wilder’s best film and as much as I like that one, I have to disagree and go with Sunset Blvd. It is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, winning three for black-and-white Art Direction, Best Writing – story and screenplay and Best Score. For Best Picture it was up against Father of the Bride, King Solomon’s Mines, Born Yesterday and lost to All About Eve. All About Eve wound up winning six Oscars in all. Another tight race that year was Best Actress, Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd. was up against Bette Davis and Anne Baxter in All About Eve, but all three lost to Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday. Having watched all three of those films within a few days of each other it is my belief that, although Holliday’s performance was stunning, the other three women spilt the vote so severely that Holliday won by default. I’ll say it up front, I enjoyed All About Eve, but I deeply love Sunset Blvd. and think it is by and far the greater of the two films.
Beware: there be spoilers after the cut.