Wilder's classic movie straddles many genres. Film writer Richard Corliss calls it "the definitive Hollywood horror movie" but it can also be watched as a straight satire of the movie industry and/or the greatest film noir. The film could have been even darker in tone; it originally opened with Holden as one of a number of talking corpses, narrating the story from the morgue. Yet the film as we know it now is mordant enough with Holden vacillating charismatically between the right and the wrong woman, only in this instance the wrong woman is a silent movie actress( Swanson ). The pairing of Holden and Swanson was fortuitous; it could have been Brando and Mae West or Montgomery Clift and Mary Pickford. America's sweetheart in exile turned the part down because the story was vulgar. She was right, of course, but it is also one of the most compelling movies ever to come out of Hollywood.
Director: Billy Wilder Cast: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim