Berkeley Sunset Boulevard Sequel

Prelude to a sequel

Berkeley Sunset Boulevard Sequel

by Steed Dropout
Jan. 16, 2015


[Editor’s note: in keeping with a Berkeley Reporter tradition, we are celebrating Berkeley’s latest PFA Wilder film festival with our sequel to Wilder-Brackett’s Sunset Boulevard.]



Joe Gillis is not dead. It’s not that he survived swimming in Norma’s pool while full of lead from her gun; In the sequel, he gets off Sunset before she can plug him–“back to that copydesk in Dayton.”

He tells Betty to write him at the Dayton Noodle, or whatever, and hitchhikes out of Hollywood, just in time. “This place can kill your soul,” he mutters. He describes his Hollywood career to the truck driver, who drives Gillis as far as Denver.

“My agent wouldn’t answer my calls, so I chased him down at his country club golf course. All the big shots play golf. A lot of deals are made on the links…

Truck driver: “I’ll remember that, say, I have a movie idea about two struggling truck-drivers, real pals and all…”

Gillis: “it’s been done, pal. As I was saying, I catch up to my agent on the links. He not only has no jobs for me….FLASH FORWARD:

Gillis is pencilling copy on the copydesk of the Dayton Noodle. A desk phone rings. Gillis picks up, “oh hi, Nancy. I’ll meet you outside the Noodle at midnight. We’ll grab a drink at the Press Club.”

Nancy is Gillis’ high school sweetheart where she admired his journalism in the high school paper. “Good kid,” he mutters as he hangs up. Then he takes a 2×3 studio snapshot of Betty out of his billfold. He begins a dear Betty letter on newsprint, but wads it up and scores a three-pointer into the trash.

Voice-over: What could I tell Betty, that I was a gigolo and am now gigolo-ing back at the copydesk? Maybe I could tell her that I’m too big a cad for an all-american girl like her? I could tell her she should consider me dead. That’s what I am, dead.

What can I look forward to here? Writing the Great American Novel? Why not, I’ve got the story. All about this broken down Hollywood has-been, who kept me in a gothic mansion on Sunset, presided over by an Eric Von Stroheim look-alike in white gloves.


Joe pens page one of his great american novel: Sunset Boulevard . He crosses that out and writes Boulevard of Dreams . He considers, Why Not Vicuna? FORWARD: he has had his novel accepted by letter.

He writes Betty that his luck has changed and that he can return to Hollywood with a published novel he wants to promote as a screenplay. He stamps the letter and sticks the letter in his sports coat pocket [where Nancy later finds it].

Voice-over: But what about good old reliable Nancy? What can I tell her, this time?” he laments.

He tells Nancy he must return to Hollywood. Over drinks at the press club bar, he says he has to sell his novel to Hollywood and she pleads with him to take her with him, but he tells her Hollywood would kill her. “It killed me,” he tells her.

Nancy: then why go back, Joe?

Gillis: look at me, Nancy. I’m not the fair-haired boy reporter anymore. Lately my headlines stink. People think headlines just happen. Do you know that one headline can use up an entire notepad?

Nancy: But Joe, what does this have to do with us? There’s not another woman, back in LA is there?

Voice over: I didn’t realize it was that obvious.

Nancy: I know about Betty.

Gillis: Know what?

Nancy: I know about you two. Nancy pulls a pearl-handled .22mm–the woman’s avenger–out of a suede purse. She guns Gillis down with three smokey shots to the forehead and he falls forward with a thump.

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