Sunset Boulevard


"This Wilder should be horsewhipped!" fumed MGM boss Louis B Mayer when he saw Mister Billy's wittiest and most scathing of all Hollywood-on-Hollywood movies. It kicks off with a dead man floating face-down in a Beverly Hills pool. The corpse is Joe Gillis (William Holden), would-be scriptwriter, while the pool belongs to Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), reclusive former star of the silent screen.

Wilder cast for resonance: Swanson was herself a star of the silents whose glory had faded, and her butler, Max, is played by Erich von Stroheim, legendary `20s director. Buster Keaton also pops up, his forlorn presence underlining the way Tinseltown chews people up and spits them out. Now, if only we'd got the extras-laden Region One Collector's Edition...

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