This was the third time I've seen this film and I have liked it more with each viewing. The first time I saw it was sometime in the mid 90s - I think when I was living with my parents before I moved to NYC. I liked it but for some reason didn't love it. I don't think I really knew what to make of it. In particular, I didn't quite get the brilliance of Gloria Swanson.
By my 2nd viewing a number of years ago at Film Forum, I was ready for it. Plus, seeing it on the big screen made a big difference.
This third viewing blew me away. This movie is easily one of my all time favorites at this point. It is absolutely brilliant.
Everything from the dead body in the pool at the beginning to the unbelievable last shot (the best ending shot in film history?) is pure genius. Every line is perfect. Every Gloria Swanson raised eyebrow is stellar. The card game with Buster Keaton is incredible. I loved Erich von Sroheim. I loved Cecil B. Demille as himself. William Holden was good as well.
And to top everything off - the film features one of the best lines in movie history. When it was mentioned to Norma that she used to be big - she retorted, "I AM big. It was the pictures that got small." YES! HELL YES!
Directed by Billy Wilder