Sunset Boulevard ★★★★★

This is a far sharper portrait of an industry/art form than All About Eve, which came out the same year. The dialogue is hard-boiled, but this is more gothic than noir. Swanson is vampiric - more Max Schreck than Lugosi. She has the whiff of a rotting corpse and her relationship with Holden is revolting. Wilder aims for sympathy, but Swanson is obviously past it in reality as well as in character: she acts like a silent movie star because that is what she is. I don’t think it’s a great performance, but it works for the film. Von Stroheim is the truly tragic figure. I wonder if it was his idea to show the excerpt from Queen Kelly (possibly the greatest incomplete film ever). He embodies the film’s neo-gothic vision: an aged monolith from a previous era gone to ruin, not out of neglect, but out of misplaced love and failure.

Silversaxophone liked these reviews