William Holden stars as a down on his luck screen writer who stumbles upon faded silent movie star Gloria Swanson whilst avoiding some repo men. He sees her as an opportunity to hustle a few bucks only to find himself mired deeper and deeper in her isolated, nightmarish little world.
Another cynical classic from Billy Wilder, this film is a black-hearted satire on Hollywood society and its obsession with image and self. Swanson is brilliant as the hilariously awful ex-starlet who surrounds herself with her own image, incapable of dealing with a world that has passed her by. Holden’s character is not much more sympathetic as the self-interested operator, consumed with self loathing at his own parasitic relationship with the quite clearly insane old dame, and Erich Von Stroheim is creepy as Hell as he lurks in the background, feeding his mistress’ self-delusions of grandeur.
Similarly to Whatever Happened To Baby Jane, the lack of likeable characters make this a little hard going and it’s a little melodramatic for my tastes, but the sharp dialogue, excellent performances and bizarre mix of psychological horror and black comedy make for fascinating viewing.