Cinema 1950: SUNSET BOULEVARD Stars Gloria Swanson

The New Pictures

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Sunset Boulevard (Paramount) is a story of Hollywood, mostly at its worst, brilliantly told by Hollywood at its best. A daring film by ordinary movie standards, it is the last collaborative fling by Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder at a specialty they have made their own: playing hob with convention and getting away with it. It also brings Actress Gloria Swanson back to the screen, after a nine-year absence, in a performance that puts her right up in the running for the first Oscar of her 37-year career.

The "hero" is a kept man, the leading lady a suicidal neurotic in her 50s, and their morbid liaison leads grimly on to madness and death. Manipulated less cleverly, the effect of these characters and their story would be oppressively decadent, not to say censorable. Yet, without sentimentalizing the characters or condoning their transgressions, the movie makes them believable, pathetic and, in a horrible way, steadily interesting.

The picture is also a blistering commentary on Hollywood manners & morals. It shows Hollywood as a jungle stronghold of anarchic opportunism, where success is the highest end, to be pursued by any means.