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Sunset Boulevard

Monday, March 25, 2019, 1:30 p.m., Dryden Theatre

(Billy Wilder, US 1950, 110 min., 35mm)

Senior Matinee—Free for 55+. Gloria Swanson shines as Norma Desmond in this true-to-life story of a fading silent-film star and the struggling Hollywood studio system. Norma lives in seclusion in her Sunset Boulevard mansion, surrounded by portraits of her younger self. Her former director and ex-husband, Max von Mayerling (Erich von Stroheim), serves as her devoted butler and projectionist, screening her old films. (In one reality-blurring scene, Max projects Queen Kelly, a real film from 1928 starring Swanson and directed by von Stroheim.) Norma invites a young, struggling writer named Joe Gillis (William Holden) to live in her mansion with the pretension of being her script editor, although he also becomes her kept lover with a foreshadowed violent demise. Cameos by silent-film stars and directors abound, including Buster Keaton and Cecil B. DeMille, to whom Norma directs her final line: “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my closeup.”