Hollywood has long been known as the Dream Factory. But what happens when the dream dies?
That's the subject of Billy Wilder's brilliant, biting Sunset Boulevard, screening on Sunday, May 5, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St., as part of the Movies That Matter film series.
Introductory and closing remarks are provided by Robert W. Butler, for more than 40 years film critic of The Kansas City Star and now a member of the Library's public affairs staff.
A memorable blend of film noir and satire, this 1950 classic is about a callow young screenwriter who becomes the boy toy of a has-been silent star slipping into madness.
Wilder, a German immigrant, had a savage eye for his adopted country, as evidenced in films like The Apartment, Some Like It Hot, Double Indemnity, and Ace in the Hole.
But in Sunset Boulevard he turned his attention to the movies themselves, especially to those one-time immortals for whom the heady rush of fame has become a long slow slide into obscurity.
For his calculating "hero" Wilder turned to William Holden. And for Norma Desmond, the grotesque, predatory former silent movie icon, he cast real-life silent star Gloria Swanson.
Sunset Boulevard is today part of our movie vocabulary ("All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up"). It's become a hit Broadway musical and in 1998 was named the 12th best American film of all time by the American Film Institute.
Major funding for programs at the Kansas City Public Library is provided by a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Admission is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org  or call 816.701.3407.
The final title in this series:
May 19: Metropolis (1927)