norma

Have you ever watched Sunset Boulevard starring William Holden, Erich von Stroheim, and the unconquerable Gloria Swanson? If not, I won’t mind if you open Netflix or find some other method to stop everything you’re doing just to watch it right now. I can wait.

As you (now) know, this film is a masterpiece of cinema which laid bare the cruelty of these things: aging, celebrity, Hollywood, youth, pride, vanity, EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE, and probably some other stuff. I’m not writing a thoughtful essay here! It did nothing to fix any of it, as far as I know, but it is interesting to see how the old silent stars were thought of and treated in the 1950s. I imagine that the cycle continues and the young talent of today considers the actors and actresses of the 80s and 90s to be weird old fossils from another time. I assume that the fate of Norma Desmond is what every actress fears for her future — or maybe kind of wants it, who am I to say?

None of us will ever be as rich as she was, or as influential in any industry, that is a certainty. I have made a little maze so that we can pretend to know what it’s like. From the comfort of your ostentatious manor, embark upon the wobbly journey to your great return. You will encounter all kinds of obstacles from nostalgic reveries to suicide attempts to homicide, but if you can keep your focus, you’ll be in the pictures again. You’ll get the attention you deserve, you icon. You legend.

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life points

1904 was a truly glorious year, apparently! Not only is it the year in which Sneer HQ was built, but it is the year that gave the world Cary Grant. On January 18th of that year, a presumably handsome baby was popped into this world and given the unfortunate, ugly name of Archibald Leach. After some hard knock living that was common in early 1900s England, he ditched that name and gathered up all of his innate charms and burst onto the Hollywood scene.

Self-effacing, humorous, attractive, not always nice but always polite, effortlessly well-dressed, Cary Grant is known to have said of himself, “Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.” Even *I* want to be Cary Grant. He also explained, “I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person. Or he became me.” That’s some pretty strong life advice, Mr. Grant!

He went on to star in something like over seventy films, and I have only seen a dozen or so. Shame on me, I know. He was suited for screwball comedies, and today I have selected Bringing Up Baby for your activity, free of charge. In this movie, Grant plays a scatterbrained sort of paleontologist type of man whose life work is to assemble a Brontosaurus. He is meant to schmooze a man by the name of Mr. Peabody who represents a rich old lady who is interested in giving an endowment of one million dollars to a worthy cause. An outrageous series of mishaps follows as Grant encounters Katharine Hepburn who falls in love with him and ruins his relationship with his fiancé, his work in several different ways, and probably his entire life, but the movie ends before it really shows how far the damage extends. It is a load of laughs!

Enjoy the maze.

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