Double features--we meet again. If you're like me and don't love the Fourth of July, stay in and watch these pairings. In a way, they might be the most American choices you can make this weekend because they show off the secret, seedy underbelly of our society, and the occasional lengths Americans go to to cover up their own secrets. Oh America.
Sunset Boulevard (1950) and Heat (1972):
Sunset Boulevard is an undisputed classic, and is one of the best films ever made about Hollywood. Heat was produced by Andy Warhol and is a parody of Sunset Boulevard. I had watched Sunset Boulevard many times before I saw Heat. I was in my 'let me watch movies that artists and tastemakers made' phase (totally normal, right?), and was watching many Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali films, before I decided to move into Andy Warhol's cinematic oeuvre. Heat was the first Warhol film I watched; it introduced me to the Adonis-like Joe Dallesandro, and it eerily reminded me of one of my favorite movies, Sunset Boulevard. After doing some reading, I found out that Warhol made Heat as a parody of Sunset Boulevard.
While Sunset Boulevard is an undisputed classic and an incredible film, and Heat is more of a novelty film at best, what I like about Heat is that it is more honest with the fact that the male lead is a hustler. While Billy Wilder couldn't explicitly write into the screenplay that Joe (William Holden) is a hustler, his actions make it glaringly obvious. In Heat, it's stated pretty much right away that Joey (Joe Dallesandro) is a hustler, especially when we see him seducing his landlady to pay rent and then using his body to get a better life through Sally Todd (Sylvia Miles).
If you have seen Sunset Boulevard before, definitely watch Heat when you want to make a more 'quirky' film choice. If you haven't seen either movie, watch them both together to see how the same story can produce two vastly different movies, and how parody is something that has been happening since before the existence of YouTube, and in longer form.
These Three (1936) and The Children's Hour (1961):
Not exactly a remake, but both movies are based on Lillian Hellman's original play, which is about two women running a school, whose lives are destroyed by a rumor about an 'inappropriate' relationship between them, which ends up having a bit more truth attached to it for one of the women. The main difference between the two movies is that in These Three, there is no lesbian storyline because the production code wouldn't allow it, making Karen (Merle Oberon) and Martha (Miriam Hopkins) simply good friends, and the rumor is changed to one about Martha sleeping with Karen's fiance Joe (Joel McCrea), which ends up not being true. However, Martha really does love Joe, but nothing actually happened between them. The film also ends happily, with no suicide and Karen and Joe ending up together.
The Children's Hour film closely follows the original play, but of course they couldn't explicitly state that Martha (Shirley Maclaine) might be a lesbian, so it's heavily hinted at, and she talks about how 'unnatural' she feels. So great that our society used to (and sometimes still) make people feel like that about themselves.
I like watching both of these films together not just because they come from the same source material, but also because it's a great way to compare how rapidly movies changed in the 25 years between 1936 and 1961, mainly what the production code didn't allow, and how it had relaxed a bit. Also, fun fact, Miriam Hopkins, who appears in These Three as Martha, is also in The Children's Hour, this time as Martha's aunt.