The Tragedy of Bert

Our Tragic HeroFor the last six days I’ve been sick. I’ve had a fever that kept coming and going, a non-stop cough and I felt really weak. I slept away pretty much my entire weekend. Actually, my house has been the perfect storm for illnesses, with my son recovering from pneumonia and my daughter dealing with croup… but enough about them, let’s get back to me.

So while in one of my fever moments I started having a weird debate with myself.

Granted, this happens a lot but more so when a fever is included. And after one memorable (fever-induced) debate I have come to this conclusion.

Bert is the most tragic character in all of the Disney films.

Yes, I am talking about Bert, the lovable bloke from Mary Poppins. The one always up for an adventure and a song and dance. That Bert. And, yes, he is more tragic than Cinderella’s dad (who I still think was murdered by the step-mother) and all of the other lost parents in their cartoons (which is another good reason you don’t want your daughter to be a princess). Bert takes the cake and I carefully constructed this argument to prove my point.

This will not be a jolly holiday. Continue reading

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Rewatching Sunset Boulevard: A Struggling Writer’s Nightmare

I have always been a fan of classic movies. While it may sound almost cliché to say this but Casablanca is my favorite film of all time. Period.

And while I love the film and watch it yearly, it was another black-and-white film that has influenced me more with the decisions I have made around my writing career.

That film is Sunset Boulevard. I have seen the film three times. The first time was before I moved to Los Angeles to try my hand as a screenplay writer, the second as a student at the University of Southern California, and the third a few days ago.

Sunset Boulevard (not the musical) is the 1950 classic written and directed by the genius Billy Wilder. It stars Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond a rich forgotten silent movie actress and William Holden as Joe Gillis, an out-of-luck writer who happens by chance into her life.

Now when most people think of Sunset they latch onto the character of Norma. It’s not surprising really, it is an amazing performance and—just like in A Streetcar Named Desire with Blanche—we watch this interesting character be driven more and more into madness by her own delusions. Her performance was nominated for an Oscar (as was the director, the picture, and most of the rest of the main cast; it won for best screenplay), and rightfully so. It’s hard to look away when she is on the screen.

But for me, when I think of Sunset Boulevard I always focus more on Joe Gillis, our unlucky writer. Continue reading