Staff Selects: Los Angeles
Cole has made the move to the City of Angels so we’re celebrating by writing about a few of our favorite Los Angeles set movies.
There might be no other film in history that so intimately understands the heart and soul of Los Angeles than the one named in honor of one of its most iconic streets, Sunset Boulevard. A scathing indictment of the studio system that the City of Angels was proudly home to, Billy Wilder’s masterpiece pulls back the curtain to show all the people out there in the dark what happens when the cameras stop rolling. Norma Desmond is the ultimate heartbreaking icon of the silver screen: she built Paramount (and the same is true of her actress, Gloria Swanson), and in return, Paramount left her to rot away in her mansion, secluded in the hills. It’s a love story, it’s a horror film, it’s a tragedy. Life in Los Angeles can feel like all of that, and just like Norma, you have to be a little crazy to thrive out here. – Cole
I’ve only ever spent something like four days in Los Angeles when I was eleven years old and half of that was really spent in Anaheim since we went to DisneyLand, so, having watched every cut of Blade Runner multiple times, I may have actually spent more time in it’s version of the city than the real one. I assume in reality, the city is like any other, though in my mind I envision it as the La La Land vision, but the sun and heat and bright colors hold appeal to me only as a fantasy and not as an actual place to live. Blade Runner, however, presents the Los Angeles I want. It’s dark and dirty and always raining and the words people speak make no sense and the buildings are imposing and full of a weird mix of technology that’s simultaneously futuristic and old fashioned. Basically it’s New York. But it’s a visionary rendition that remains one of the greatest settings imagined for a science fiction film. – Henry
In a Lonely Place
Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place stars Humphrey Bogart as a Hollywood screenwriter who becomes the prime suspect in a murder. He starts a romance with his neighbor (Gloria Grahame) who becomes the audience surrogate, as she also starts to wonder if he may actually have committed the crime, especially when his violent tendencies begin to emerge. It becomes less of a murder mystery and more of a complex examination of a relationship plagued by paranoia and distrust. It features Bogart’s best performance by a mile and an ending that caught me off guard, even having been prepared by the poster that advertises “the surprise finish.” I love everything I’ve seen from Ray–except for his most celebrated work, Rebel Without a Cause, ironically–but few films have stuck in my mind more than In a Lonely Place. -Kern
Staff Selects billy wilder blade runner gloria grahame gloria swanson humphrey bogart in a lonely place nicholas ray rebel without a cause ridley scott sunset boulevard
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