In Hollywood of the 50’s, the obscure screenplay writer Joe Gillis is not able to sell his work to the studios, is full of debts and is thinking in returning to his hometown. He is hired to rework a faded silent film star’s script, only to find himself developing a dangerous relationship.
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In this narcissistic post-modern age, this cautionary tale of Norma Desmond's media self-aggrandisement continues to resonate. From 'The Bling Ring', 'The King of Comedy', 'The Artist', to 'To Die For', the influence echoes loud in contemporary cinema. "Alright Mr DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up" is the parabolic idiom for a society that craves recognition. Cinema history without Wilder would be quite damaging.
I don't understand why people want to be movie stars. What do you accomplish? You pretend to be someone you're not. All that attention turns you into a raging narcissist. Actors get addicted to that rush of performing. This movie is about mocking the actress for her desperation. Ha ha. Look, you made a fool out of yourself. But they deserve it, right? Mean. Hollywood chomps itself on its ass.
One of the most finely written movie I've ever seen, but I don't really think the voice-over was of any use, because it was doing nothing else to say with words what we could already see with images. The few moments without the voice-over are pure moments of cinematic grace. Gloria Swanson plays one of the most scary femme fatale characters I've seen (along with Better Davis or Joan Crawford). Incredible ending.
Billy Wilder was unstoppable creating the sassiest and most acid masterpieces as this cruel noirish hollywood satire. William Holden and Erich Von Stroheim are always a privilege to watch, but the elderly and mentally unstable femme fatale Gloria Swanson always causes chills run down my spine. One of my unquestionable favorites.