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.
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.
Academy Awards: Best Story and Screenplay; Best Art Direction-BW; Best Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Actor (William Holden); Best Actress (Gloria Swanson); Best Supporting Actor (Erich von Stroheim); Best Supporting Actress (Nancy Olson); Best Director (Billy Wilder); Best Cinematography-BW; Best Film Editing
Golden Globe Awards: Best Picture; Best Actress (Gloria Swanson); Best Director (Billy Wilder); Best Original Score
Nominations: Best Supporting Actor (Erich von Stroheim); Best Screenplay; Best Cinematography-BW