"I am big; it's the pictures that got small." And what else is big is news that Marian Theatre Guild in Whiting has the Northwest Indiana premiere of the musical "Sunset Boulevard" opening Saturday.
The music is by "Cats" and "Phantom of the Opera" composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. The story, of course, is based on the classic 1950 black-and-white film of the same name starring Gloria Swanson and William Holden. It's about a faded silent pictures star, Norma Desmond, who meets a young, down-on-his-luck script writer.
The movie itself is listed as one of the 15 best movies ever made. It's such a classic that Carol Burnett spoofed it on her show back in the 1970's.
About a year ago, I was talking to some younger folks about MTG waiting for the rights to become available. They had never heard of "Sunset Boulevard." I was astounded at that.
Of course, I've never seen a "Star Wars" movie, so I guess I have no room to talk about what should be of cultural significance.
I have always loved this movie, as well as the musical version. Somewhere, back in the early 1950's, they would show silent films on television.
I just remember watching them as a kid and I was fascinated with them. Turner Broadcasting plays a lot of silent films, which I watch today. When I'm watching dramatic silent pictures, I always think of Norma.
Even though Norma Desmond is a fictional character, to me she's the epitome of the cinematic loss that came with the "talkies."
I love reading about the old movie houses here that played those great silent pictures.
When the Hoosier Theater had its grand opening about 15 years ago, John Muir, the theatre organist, came up from Atlanta to play for it. To watch this man make his movie music magic at 90 was memorable.
He regaled the audience with a few tales of the vaudeville shows that had played there. One day, someone left the theater's side door open and three live, dancing bears from one of the animal acts exited stage right. . .and right out the door. They were found roaming around on LaPorte Avenue. His story about the bears and the Whiting police trying to round them up was hysterical.
Silent movies virtually brought the world together. There was no need for language, as the stories they told were universal to mankind, whether you were watching them in Whiting, Indiana or China.
It is said of U.S. silent films that far more have been lost than have survived, which is tragic. The silver nitrate on which they were filmed was highly flammable.
Perhaps that's why I like the musical "Sunset Boulevard" so much. It captures that era and has now preserved it forever. The show runs Saturday and Sundays, Nov. 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18. Dinner theater is available Saturdays.
You can call the Box Office in the evening at (219) 473-7555, because the cast is "ready for their close-up, Mr. DeMille."