Sunset Blvd. (1950)
What has become one of my new top ten movies has been a long-time favorite in Hollywood, winning Oscars and nominations all over the place.
Gloria Swanson is excellent as the eccentric, bizarre, and needy Norma Desmond, a former silent-film star. (Actual photographs and footage of Swanson's early days in cinema were used in the film.) William Holden plays a screenwriter who is trapped in her web of loneliness and desperation, unknowingly being sucked into her strange world where life is a stage and she's the star. The cameos of classic actors and celebrities of the time make this movie especially delectable...it gives such an authenticity that you feel like Swanson is playing herself - although she is far from a has-been because of this film. The only thing that breaks the authenticity is Holden's narrative, as he is speaking to us beyond the grave.
What intrigues me the most about this movie is how it reminds me of current celebrities, how they can become so self-involved and blind to the outside world. (Tom Cruise *cough cough*) Living under a microscope can distort your perceptions, and Norma Desmond demonstrates this as her insanity grows and her dependence on the company of William Holden becomes fatal.