Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. USA, 1950. Paramount Pictures. Screenplay by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, D.M. Marshman Jr.. Cinematography by John F. Seitz. Produced by Charles Brackett. Music by Franz Waxman. Production Design by Hans Dreier, John Meehan. Costume Design by Edith Head. Film Editing by Arthur P. Schmidt. Academy Awards 1950. Golden Globe Awards 1950.
The mother of all backstage Hollywood movies that just never seems to age. One of the peaks of Billy Wilder’s abundantly successful career is this fantastic film about a struggling screenwriter (William Holden) who takes refuge in the decaying home of a has-been silent movie queen (Gloria Swanson, in a career-reviving performance). He thinks he has hit easy street after she takes him in, but he soon realizes that this woman expects him to put out freely while helping her get ready for her giant comeback, a script about Salome that she has written herself. A cameo by Cecil B. DeMille helps lend weight to this great story, plus fantastic camerawork by John Seitz really allows the viewer to personally experience Swanson’s fall into the darkness of insanity. Marvelous.