I'm really sorry not to join the chorus of praises of the other users.But in the first sequences (or should I say the prologue?) Von Stroheim makes a complete fool of himself!Even if he was often given humiliating parts by French directors (with the staggering exception of "La Grande Illusion" ) ,at least Chenal ("La foire Aux Chimères"),Christian-Jaque ("Les Disparus de Saint-Agil") or Robert Siodmak (the extraordinary " PIèges" which he made the year before and where his appearance which does not exceed 15 min is absolutely mind-boggling ,predating "Sunset Blvd" by ten years)offered him worthwhile roles .And the director /writer carries on with his farce :the great actor/director tries to sell the Sahara by the pound.After such a beginning,all that follows ,even if it is "moving", cannot be taken seriously.
The other actors have poor parts made of clichés;Dalio fresh from Renoir "s masterpiece "La Règle du Jeu " is cast as Dalio the wicked ,the deceitful,the spineless guy.Arletty,the best actress of the era (and IMHO the best French actress that ever was)who was in her golden era ("Le Jour Se Lève" ,one of my ten favorite movies ,and "Fric frac" and "Circonstances Atténuantes") was also cast as Arletty:her part seems to be made of left -overs of "Hotel du Nord" and she "leaves" the movie 25 minutes before the end ,and Annie Ducaux can't make up for it.
Annie Ducaux,De La Comédie Française ,was essentially a stage actress;her filmography is almost worthless ;one can save her portrayal of Catherine De Medicis in Delannoy-Cocteau's "La Princesse de Clèves".
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