Released 65 years ago this week (on August 10, 1950), director Billy Wilder's classic explored fame from the perspective of those who had it and lost it (like Gloria Swanson and her "waxwork" friends, playing lightly fictionalized versions of themselves) and those who never quite made it, like the struggling young screenwriter (William Holden) and the failed actress-turned-script reader played by Nancy Olson.
Even if you haven't seen "Sunset Boulevard," you may feel like you have, whether because of the popular Andrew Lloyd Webber musical it spawned, the movies that copied it (particularly "American Beauty," with its narration from beyond the grave), and the countless parodies of Swanson's final "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up" scene. In honor of the film's anniversary,
This moment, like so many in Billy Wilder’s 1950 masterpiece, “Sunset Boulevard,” achieves a miraculous balancing act. It is darkly funny, deeply sad and richly unsettling. The same could be said of Gloria Swanson’s Oscar-nominated performance as Desmond, the aging icon of the silent era who dwells in a mansion fit for Miss Havisham and is doted upon by a solemn enabler named Max (Erich von Stroheim), who has dedicated his life to protecting his beloved diva from the world that has forgotten her. Not only did von Stroheim direct
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