I'm ready for my mid-shot!(1950)
With Gloria Swanson, William Holden, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Jack Webb, Fred Clarke, Cecil B. DeMille, Hedda Hopper, Buster Keaton
Directed by Billy Wilder
Black and White
Reviewed by JL and JB

    JL: Gloria Swanson, in a legendary and much-imitated performance, plays faded silent-screen star Norma Desmond, a deluded diva who provides lavish funeral services for her pet monkey and keeps her ex-husband (Erich von Stroheim) around as her butler and chauffeur.  Down-and-out screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) is her kept man, engaged in writing a "comeback" film for Norma that he knows is a stinker.  Morbidly grotesque and darkly comic, Billy Wilder's SUNSET BOULEVARD is the greatest film ever made about the sordid side of Hollywood.  It's a dense masterpiece that reveals a new layer of weirdness and perversion with each viewing, and it's more fun than a film like that should ever be. 5 

     JB: One of the best movies about movies, Billy Wilder's nearly uncategorizable SUNSET BOULEVARD is part comedy, part love story, part film noir thriller and part creepy old house horror movie, with a touch of psycho killer thrown in just for laughs.  Gloria Swanson is pure perfection as a former screen idol who still imagines she is big star ("It's the pictures that got small"), playing her part with the kind of dramatic overkill only a real silent film actress could manage without lapsing into unintentional self-parody.  She is matched by William Holden who plays the part of the down and out screenwriter with the jaded coolness of a Bogey private eye.  Best know for its ironic ending ("I'm ready for my closeup") and its unique narrator - a corpse - SUNSET BOULEVARD is a must-see for any student of film history. 5 

Billy Wilder     The Stuff You Gotta Watch


"And I promise you I'll never desert you again because after Salome, we'll make another picture and another picture. You see, this is my life!  It always will be!  Nothing else!  Just us, the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark!... All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up!"

Stuff You Gotta Watch
Copyright © 2010 John V. Brennan, John Larrabee