I’ve always loved Sunset Boulevard (1950), with William Holden and Gloria Swanson. It is hard not to be entranced by Ms. Swanson’s amazing portrayal of faded silent screen diva, Norma Desmond, and her descent into madness. But I’ve discovered another reason to love it – Bill Holden. I have a new crush on this mid-century heartthrob. My favorite channel, Turner Classic Movies, was running a birthday salute and I found some films that I hadn’t seen before. One that was particularly charming, if not altogether PC, was Father Is a Bachelor. Bill Holden practically spends the whole movie singing, which is a side I’ve never seen before. Lots of fun, cute kids, and a typical cheesy Hollywood ending, which is often just what I want when life isn’t providing one for me.
Oh, but this is a recommendation for Sunset Boulevard. Totally different role for Bill – classic film noir character; desperate, wisecracking, and ultimately destroyed. It is so hard to focus on the other players in the film when Ms Swanson is the whole universe of the picture. Even when she isn’t on screen, her shadow is there, lurking over everything. She’s amazing and it gave viewers in the 1950s (and beyond) a chance to rediscover her. She was a huge force in the silent screen days and it took chutzpah to allow herself to be shown in such an unflattering light by Billy Wilder’s film. But even as wonderfully crazy as she is, Bill Holden has the often unsung job of supporting her in her larger than life scenes. He is slowly eaten up by her world, struggling all the way, but in the end, consumed.
There are many great black and white films, but I thought this one deserved a true classic cupcake – the Black & White Cupcake. Inspired by the two-tone cookies, these cupcakes from Epicurious demonstrate how delish shadows and light can be.