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A struggling script writer in Hollywood finds a bizarre opportunity trying to help a has-been silent movie star stage a comeback.

Review by Louise Keller:
The plot is timeless, the characters bizarre yet accessible. The fact that the film has been made into a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber brings additional interest to this classic black and white film. It has such compelling elements: success, failure, weakness, strength, ambition, greed, obsession, loyalty and betrayal.

William Holden is outstanding as Gillies, a B-grade movie writer, struggling to survive in Hollywood. Like so many beautifully crafted films of the day, we are made to care about the characters, and empathise with the predicament that Gillies finds himself in. The film begins when a dead man is found floating face down in the swimming pool of a Beverly Hills mansion owned by Norma Desmond, a former silent screen star. The voice of the dead man narrates the story in flashback to reveal the events that lead up to the scene. Gloria Swanson, as the ageing has-been star brings a neurotic edge and makes compelling watching. She allows the bizzare setting to appear totally acceptable. Erich von Stroheim is wonderfully understated as Desmondís butler and former husband. Watch out for the real Cecil B. DeMille, who plays himself in the film.

Franz Waxmanís fabulous musical score and moody cinematography add greatly to this tragic, compelling tale which remains one of the most memorable films of its day.

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(Black & White)

CAST: Gloria Swanson, William Holden, Erich von Stoheim

DIRECTOR: Billy Wilder

SCRIPT: Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett (with D.M. Marshman Jr)

MUSIC: Franz Waxman

STUDIO: Paramount Pictures

YEAR: 1950

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes


AWARDS: Academy Awards 1950; Best story/screenplay, Best Black & white art direction; Best musical score Dramatic Picture: Franz Waxman

RRP: $24.95

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