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Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Ed Sikov, author of "On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder" Rating:8.4/10 (16 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by bryan00009 on December 11th, 2006:Find all reviews by bryan00009
This is NOT a good commentary track. Unfortunately, it falls in the category of one of those annoying pseudo-intellectual authors who have a great deal of knowledge but very little understanding.
In scene after scene, Sikov recites background and historical details and ignores much of what is on the screen. For example, he wastes the entire opening pool scene to relate details of another opening that got cut out, as if that's important (it's not). Even worse, many times he simply doesn't seem to understand what is happening: "De Mille doesn't even have the guts to tell Norma the truth..." HOW CAN ANYONE not see that De Mille, as Joe says later, was trying to protect Norma from the truth, and WAS NOT hurting her with a lie? Sikov is like someone whose first language is not English and simply does not get sarcasm, taking statements out of context or interpreting them much too literally: "Obviously Joe Gillis' script is not a Betty Hutton..." -- well, duh. Instead of discussing Joe's predicament and treatment by Sheldrake, he rambles on about who Betty Hutton was, as if we need to know (we don't). Like someone who thinks they are witnessing history and not a movie, he talks about characters as if they were real people: "Look at that posture Norma assumes..." Could it be the director and writer told her to sit that way, and if so, what does that say about the story -- and not Gloria Swanson? No, instead Sikov rambles on with some egregious overstatements: "Norma has trapped Joe from the moment he set foot inside her house..." This is no doubt the reason he often ignores the craft of the filmmaker and never points out some of the obvious plot point flaws. eg: Joe's car has no spare tire?, Norma kicks Joe out one minute and offers him a job the next?, Norma serves Champagne and caviar all the time?, Joe doesn't know his own astrological sign?, Joe never gets paid and doesn't complain?, Joe can walk five steps normally with a bullet in his back?, etc., etc. Yes, the movie succeeds in spite of some of these corny plot contrivances, but to have to listen to a commentator like Sikov relate Billy Wilder's simple tale of a down-and-out screenwriter (albeit rendered with great flair) to some grandiose theme of Hollywood meanness is tiresome. PASS.
Reviewed by Uniblab on March 3rd, 2009:Find all reviews by Uniblab
I really can't see the reason for the above reviwer's cynicism regarding Sikov's commentary. This is one of the greatest commentaries ever recorded. As a drawback, the track has the fact that Sikov sounds like he's reading from somewhere. Beyond that, though, the commentary only mesmerized me, not only by Sikov's knowledge of all aspects of the movie - he even make comments about Billy Wilder's autobiographical resonances in the story that are triggered by single lines of dialogue - but by how he chooses to display it: in a surprisingly candid way (even labeling one scene as "one of his least favorites in the movie") and without the usually boring and pedantic "Film Historian" routine.
Reviewed by EdSikov on April 7th, 2009:Find all reviews by EdSikov
I kinda liked it.
Reviewed by musíl65 on November 11th, 2013:Find all reviews by musíl65
It is a solid one. Sikov talks a lot about the structure, the acting, the costumes, the sets and the reception of this masterwork. Good are the parts about Wilder’s own experiences in the movie industry and the themes of his movies. He speaks a little bit dry and there are a few gaps.

The track is full of solid information. Don’t miss it. 9 out of 10.