P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2002
May 28, 2002
MASS MoCA Brings 11-Time Oscar-Nominated Sunset Boulevard Back to the Big Screen
(North Adams, Mass.) Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder's ultra-noir tale of deteriorating decadence garnered 11 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Actor, and Actress. MASS MoCA brings the film back to the big screen on Friday, June 28, at 8:30 P.M. In fine weather the film will be screened outside in the moonlit Courtyard C, moving indoors to the Hunter Center if rain threatens. The New York Times called it "a powerful story of the ambitions and frustrations that combine to make life in the cardboard city so fascinating to the outside world."
Among the most scathing satires of Hollywood and the cruel fickleness of movie fandom, Sunset Boulevard stars William Holden as Joe Gillis, a washed-up "boy wonder" screenwriter. Gillis, hotly pursued by repo men, ducks into the garage of a decaying 1920s mansion where he encounters silent film star Norma Desmond played by Gloria Swanson. When Desmond talks Gillis into helping her with a hopeless comeback script, Gillis gradually becomes a kept man. The Viennese-born, legendary silent filmmaker Erich von Stroheim plays Desmond's loyal and protective chauffeur, Max Von Mayerling, who watches from a distance with growing contempt.
Billy Wilder was one of Hollywood's most daring filmmakers as well as one of its most consistent and enduring. He explored taboo subjects with wit and insight and in a wide variety of styles and genres. Born in Austria, he began working as a journalist for a Viennese newspaper after first studying law. He moved to Berlin and wrote for one of the city's largest tabloids. He later became one of Germany's most prolific and sought-after screenwriters but, as a Jew, was forced to flee for his life after Hitler's 1933 rise to power. Wilder eventually moved to Hollywood where, while still learning English, he joined the film industry as screenwriter for a 1934 adaptation of Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein's musical Music in the Air starring Gloria Swanson. After co-writing That Certain Age (1938) Wilder and Charles Brackett quickly became one of Hollywood's most successful writing teams. Wilder's innumerable Academy Awards and Oscar nominations for Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Film include the films Nintochka, Ball of Fire, Hold Back the Dawn, Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, A Foreign Affair, Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, Sabrina, Witness for the Prosecution, Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, and The Fortune Cookie.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1897, Gloria Swanson was hired as an extra at age 16 when she met actor Wallace Beery. Three years later they were married, moved to Hollywood and Beery signed a major contract on the condition that Swanson also be given a contract. After a series of romantic comedies and melodramatic tearjerkers, she joined Cecil B. DeMille's team and became a major star. She was the reigning Queen of Hollywood by the mid-1920s and began producing her own films in 1927 but was nearly bankrupt by Erich von Stroheim's typically brilliant but outrageously expensive production of Queen Kelly. (His career was effectively ended when she fired him during production.) She retired in 1934 but was coaxed back to the silver screen for Sunset Boulevard for which she received her third Best Actress Oscar nomination.
Sunset Boulevard at MASS MoCA is sponsored by Holiday Inn Berkshires.
Lickety Split will be open to serve full dinners and snacks starting at 8 P.M. when the doors open. There will also be a full bar. In case of rain the film will move indoors where the Hunter Center will have been transformed into a full movie palace.
Tickets to Sunset Boulevard are $6. MASS MoCA members get 10% off. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located on Marshall Street in North Adams from 10 A.M. until 6 P.M. daily. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or online at www.massmoca.org at any time of day.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located on a 13- acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings. MASS MoCA focuses on the work of visual and performing artists charting new territory.
For Immediate Release