Monday, September 05, 2005

Sunset Blvd. (1950)

The key to this film is Erich von Stroheim. William Holden is the lead, and Gloria Swanson has most of the famous moments, but it's von Stroheim who provides the entryway into the film's heart. More than just a cynical satire on Hollywood, this is a wounded paeon to broken dreams, faded glory and the undying allure of stardom. As usual, Billy Wilder's towering cynicism serves to conceal a big, blistered heart, which may be why his films work so beautifully -- his misanthropic tendencies never get in the way of the fact that his characters are fully realized, well-rounded people capable of love and pain and disappointment. Sharp dialogue, fantastic acting, perfectly understated direction, an amazing, heartbreaking and justly famous climax; the more Wilder I see, the more I'm convinced that he is probably the greatest director in history to work in the Hollywood system.

Grade: A


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