Billy Wilder, USA, 1950) 110 minutes HD PG Offensive language.
A mordant, macabre film noir that really ups the ante on the genre’s doom-laden determinism and fatalism – the movie is narrated by a corpse! – Sunset Boulevard was the final collaboration between Billy Wilder and long-time writing partner and producer Charles Brackett, and their second film together to win a screenwriting Oscar. The famed opening of this acid account of Hollywood decadence has a dead man floating face down in a swimming pool. William Holden's off-screen voice identifies itself as that of the deceased, and proceeds to relate the sordid events that led to his demise.
Holden is Joe Gillis, a down-at-heels Hollywood screenwriter. Fleeing the repo men after his car, he takes a wrong turn into the run-down estate of Hollywood has-been Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), an aging, embittered former silent star living entombed in a mausoleum-like mansion. With nothing better on the go, spineless Joe allows himself to become a kept man in Norma's smothering clutches, and is soon in way, way over his head. Erich von Stroheim co-stars as Norma's devoted butler Max; Buster Keaton, Hedda Hopper, and Cecil B. DeMille have cameos. Wilder’s classic is noir at its most brittle, bizarre, and baroque – and "certainly the blackest of all Hollywood's scab-scratching accounts of itself". (Geoff Andrew, Time Out). — The Cinematheque.
In memory of Michael Thomas.