Previously Played

  • SUNSET BLVD. 1:20 5:20 9:20
  • FIVE GRAVES TO CAIRO 3:30 7:30

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Part of the seriesVON STROHEIM

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(1950, Billy Wilder) “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille,” intones Gloria Swanson, but ex-director, ex-husband, now butler Von Stroheim barks, “I discovered her at 16, I made her a star and I cannot let her be destroyed,” as scripter-kept man William Holden narrates his tormented affair with Swanson’s has-been star Norma Desmond. At first Von Stroheim resisted “that goddamn butler role,” with its painful resonances, but once he accepted, his ideas came too (accepted the clip from Queen Kelly, writing the fan mail; rejected: washing and ironing her panties), earning him his only Oscar nomination, for Supporting Actor.
1:20, 5:20, 9:20

"The performance that holds the film together, that gives it emotional resonance and makes it real in spite of its gothic flamboyance, is by Erich von Stroheim... The movie cuts close to the bone, drawing so directly from life that many of the silent stars at the movie's premiere recognized personal details. In no character, not even Norma, does it cut closer than with Max von Mayerling, a once-great silent director, now reduced to working as the butler of the woman he once directed... Remains the best drama ever made about the movies because it sees through the illusions, even if Norma doesn't."
– Roger Ebert

"The details are baroque: the rats in the empty swimming pool, the wind moaning in the organ pipes, the midnight burial of a pet chimpanzee… The acting honors belong to Holden. When he makes love to the crazy, demanding old woman, his face shows a mixture of pity and guilt and nausea."
– Pauline Kael

"Above all else the definitive Hollywood horror movie. What better locale for a 'ghost' story than Hollywood, a town built on illusions and delusions, where people grow old but remain young on celluloid, where people become has-beens before they've made it."
– Danny Peary

"Still the best Hollywood movie ever made about Hollywood."
– Andrew Sarris



(1943, Billy Wilder) National stereotypes run riot as disguised by Brit Franchot Tone and French maid Ann Baxter spy on Stroheim’s Rommel in Wilder’s remake of the silent Hotel Imperial. Wilder: “Your films were ten years ahead of their time.” Von Stroheim: “Twenty!” Von Stroheim realism: his forehead tanline and bevy of cameras (German models, actually loaded with film).
 3:30, 7:30

"The script by Wilder and his long-term associate Charles Brackett is taut and intelligent, but the film's real strengths are John Seitz's superb photography of the desert and hotel, and von Stroheim's resumption of his 'man you love to hate' persona as Rommel."
– Geoff Andrew, Time Out (London)

"A crisp spy thriller...with many Wilder themes seething beneath the surface."
– Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader