This week, Paramount released a Blu-ray of Billy Wilder’s dramatic tale about a faded silent film star and the madness that ensues when her big-screen dreams are shattered. Sunset Boulevard is a tragic Hollywood love story — love for the illusion and the grandeur. It’s a cautionary tale about the trappings of Tinseltown that calls to mind other eye-opening films about the movie industry. We explored them all past the break. See what messages these celluloid satires have to share about the Hollywood machine, and tell us what films you would add to the list in the comments section.
Billy Wilder went to great lengths to add an air of authenticity to his scathing 1950 satire. He cast familiar industry faces (Cecil B. De Mille and Erich von Stroheim amongst them), referred to real studio epics (like Gone with the Wind), and gave a leading role to Gloria Swanson — once herself a prominent silent film starlet who made the jump to talkies, but saw the hits quickly decline. She embodied fading star Norma Desmond in Wilder’s bitter masterpiece. “We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces!” Swanson tells us. The forgotten star is an exquisite, haunting symbol of Hollywood at its darkest and celebrity culture run amok.