Listen to Episode 442 – “Geek Challenge: Sunset Blvd. vs. My Favorite Year”

Top: William Holden and Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder’s ‘Sunset Blvd.’ (1950) / Bottom: Peter O’Toole and Mark Linn-Baker in Richard Benjamin’s ‘Final Year’ (1982)

Gobbledygeek episode 442, “Geek Challenge: Sunset Blvd. vs. My Favorite Year,” is available for listening or download right here, on Spotify, and on Apple Podcasts.

For Norma Desmond, the pictures got small when words stole her mystique; for Alan Swann, it was when his drunken antics got him downgraded to the boob tube. They’re both stand-ins for larger-than-life stars past their prime, Norma in Billy Wilder’s scathing Sunset Blvd. (1950) and Alan in Richard Benjamin’s cozy My Favorite Year (1982). In our latest Geek Challenge, Paul and Arlo discuss these fallen idols and how their respective movies take much different approaches to a mentor/mentee relationship. The boys break down the ways in which both films echo real-life Hollywood legends; praise Gloria Swanson’s arch turn as Norma and Peter O’Toole’s thinly veiled take on Errol Flynn; pine for dead monkey funerals; and wonder what things would be like if Jessica Harper ruled the mob.

NEXT: on this month’s Four-Color Flashback, we conclude the post-apocalyptic adventures of Gus and Jeppard in Deluxe Editions 2 and 3 of Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth.

BREAKDOWN

  • 00:00:40  –  Intro / Guest
  • 00:06:28  –  Sunset Blvd.
  • 00:52:15  –  My Favorite Year
  • 01:28:56  –  Outro / Next

LINKS

MUSIC

  • “Mama Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out (1990)
  • “Celluloid Heroes” by The Kinks, Everybody’s in Show-Biz (1972)

GOBBLEDYCARES

On DVD & Blu-Ray, 6/7/11: ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘True Grit,’ More

BREAKING BAD: The Complete Third Season (DVD/Blu-ray)

Breaking Bad‘s terrific second season was tightly plotted ahead of time, with ample foreshadowing throughout. For the show’s third season, however, creator Vince Gilligan and his writers turned into expert jazz players, improvising every note, changing rhythm, and exploring all sorts of new grooves. Gilligan and Co. repeatedly force science-teacher-turned-methmaker Walt and his junkie partner Jesse into corners there’s seemingly no way they’ll get out of; and the creative team had no idea if they could either, until they started writing the next episode. An approach like this could easily have been disastrous, but instead makes for one of the all-time great seasons of television. The jagged, frayed chemistry between Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul makes for the best duo on TV, both giving fierce performances. Stand-out episodes in a stand-out season include “One Minute,” with an intense set piece for the ages; “Fly,” which takes place entirely in the lab, examining Walt and Jesse’s relationship; and “Full Measure,” the epic season finale. Extras include commentaries by Gilligan and the cast; and a number of featurettes. 

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