Released 1950 (USA)
American, in English
Director - Billy Wilder
Stars - Gloria Swanson, William Holden, Erich von Stroheim
Washed-up, middle-aged silent film star Norma Desmond (Swanson) hires down-on-his-luck writer Joe Willis (Holden) to edit the script of a movie she hopes will mark her comeback. Von Stroheim co-stars as Norma’s butler, Max.
Not so keen on the hardboiled detective-like voiceover.
Gloria Swanson’s wild eyes made me chuckle at quite a few inappropriate moments.
I like that it involved a topic so rarely explored in film, older-woman-with-younger-man, aka the sugar momma scenario. Also, that it addresses financial abuse and emotional manipulation, two additional issues rarely portrayed/acknowledged in film.
The tension is great. The noose tightens around Joe so slowly, and he knows it and yet he feels powerless to stop it. It’s one of those enjoy-it-while-cringing sort of things.
I sort of loved Swanson’s over-the-top, crazy-ass performance, even the wild eyes.
I was aware of this film, down to knowing the basic storyline and its famous quotes, and yet I had no idea that it was considered film noir! As film noir goes, it’s pretty mild. The plot is easy to follow, and there’s no endless betrayal and re-betrayal. I really like the pacing. The story develops fairly slowly, but not in a way that feels like it drags. There’s not much action, and yet it’s not boring. Really, as I sit here thinking about it, I realize that it’s a very well-crafted film. Swanson’s performance is a little iffy, just on the border of ridiculousness. Other than that, I have no strong criticism. However, I don’t see it as the type of film I’ll want to watch repeatedly. Once was great.
I give it 4 stars.