Dickson Hughes and Richard Stapley, two young songwriters and romantic partners, find themselves caught in movie star Gloria Swanson’s web when she hires them to write a musical version of “Sunset Boulevard.” Life imitates art when Gloria falls for Richard, and the men find themselves living a real-life version of the classic film.
For Gloria Swanson, the iconic star of “Sunset Boulevard,” both the movie and the character of Norma Desmond provided a renewed spotlight. Seeing in Norma a portal back to the stardom she once commanded during her years as an actress in silent pictures, Swanson strategically began efforts to parlay “Sunset Boulevard” into a new phase of her career. Swanson had begun to envision a musical stage adaptation of the film.
Schwarz shares, “I love learning about the behind-the-scenes drama of classic movies, and devoured film historian Sam Staggs’ book “Close-up on Sunset Boulevard.” It was here I first learned about Gloria Swanson’s failed attempt to launch a musical version of “Sunset Boulevard,” and the resulting creative threesome with her composers – Dickson Hughes and Richard Stapley. The two men were lovers but presented themselves to the world as writing partners and roommates, a necessary contrivance in the homophobic 1950s. Their working relationship with Gloria Swanson mirrored the plot of “Sunset Boulevard,” and they found themselves living a real-life version of the film when Gloria fell for the handsome Richard Stapley. Life imitates art, indeed!”
“This film is about how our protagonists poured their heart and soul into a creative venture that would ultimately blow up in their faces,” says Schwarz. “It’s a heartbreak any creative person can identify with – presenting something to the world only to have it be met with at best indifference or at worst a critical drubbing. “Boulevard!” is also about growing old, and how our protagonists faced the challenges of aging in a youth-obsessed society. Digging up stories from the past and re-invigorating legacies for a new generation has been my creative mission over the years. With ‘Boulevard! A Hollywood Story,’ a hidden Hollywood saga will finally be revealed, and provide a big screen comeback for Gloria Swanson, Richard Stapley, and Dickson Hughes.”