When repo men chase him into the driveway of a decrepit Hollywood mansion, faded Hollywood screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) crosses paths with down-and-out former silent-movie star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). He desperately needs work, she desperately needs an audience, so the two forge a twisted relationship as Desmond spins baroque tales of her Hollywood glory days while Gillis looks on with an understandable mix of dark amusement, pity and horror.
Even now, nearly six decades since its release, Billy Wilder's tragic-comic noir is as fascinating and unwholesome as ever. The script by Wilder, Charles Brackett and D.M. Marshman Jr. is still a creepy wonder (it's not for nothing lines like "Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup" have passed into the popular lexicon), while the casting is sheer perfection. Wilder approached just about every big-screen has-been in Hollywood to play Desmond, getting turned down by the likes of Greta Garbo, Mae West and Mary Pickford, all of whom objected to a role that hit so uncomfortably close to home. Finally, Wilder contacted Swanson, who almost turned the part down before her pal George Cukor convinced her that this was the role she'd be remembered for, telling her, "If they ask you to do 10 screen tests, do 10 screen tests, or I will personally shoot you." If the threat of homicide can inspire performers to this sort of greatness, every actress should perform with a gun to her back. Bay Theatre, 340 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 431-9988. Fri., 10:30 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m.; Mon., 8 p.m. $6-$8.
All Quiet on the Western Front. Lewis Milestone's 1930, antiwar classic follows a group of German schoolboys after a jingoistic teacher talks them into enlisting in the military at the beginning of World War I. Vintage cartoons, newsreels and other essentials of life are also included on the bill. Long Beach School for Adults Auditorium, 3701 E. Willow St., Long Beach, (562) 997-8000, ext. 7198. Fri., 7 p.m. $1.
A Clockwork Orange. After delighting us last week with Singin' in the Rain, the Edwards folks now set out to ruin that movie's title song for you forever with this screening of Stanley Kubrick's classic, blackly funny sci-fi shocker. A young, splendidly nasty Malcolm Macdowell stars as Alex, a Beethoven-worshiping thug who leads a gang of "droogs" on nightly sprees of "ultraviolence" through the blighted countryside of a futuristic England. Edwards Rancho Santa Margarita, 30632 Santa Margarita Pkwy., Rancho Santa Margarita, (949) 888-3358. Tues., 8 p.m. $6; Edwards South Coast Village, 1561 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana, (800) 326-3264. Wed., 8 p.m. $6.
Pioneer video artists. The Orange County Museum of Art presents a new selection of video artwork at South Coast Plaza, including 1973's Global Groove by Nam June Paik, as well as Cory Arcangel and Frankie Martin's 2004 satire on early '90s pop culture, 414-RAVE-95. Orange Lounge atSouth Coast Plaza, third floor of the Crate & Barrel wing, 3333 Bear St., Costa Mesa, (949) 759-1122, ext. 272. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Free.
Quin le dispar a mi hermano?(Who Shot My Brother?) Director German Gutierrez journeys from Montreal to Columbia in hopes of learning his brother's fate in this documentary, the concluding film in UC Irvine's Latin American Film Festival. Before the screening, join the director to discuss the film. UC Irvine Film and Video Center, Humanities Instruction Building, Campus & W. Peltason drs., Irvine, (949) 824-7418; www.humanities.uci.edu/fvc. Sat. Discussion, 5:30 p.m.Humanities Instruction Building, Room 135; Screening, 7 p.m. Room 100. $3-$5.
Video Remains. Alexandra Juhasz's real-time, 1992 video interview with her friend James Lamb, an actor who was dying of AIDS. The film also features cut-aways to present-day interviewees discussing Lamb's life and death. UCI Film and Video Center, Humanities Instruction Building, Room 100, Campus & W. Peltason drs., Irvine, (949) 824-7418;www.humanities.uci.edu/fvc. Thurs., June 1, 7 p.m. $3-$5.
Whisky. This 2004, Uruguayan picture from Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll tells the Three's Company-esque story of a sock-factory owner, desperate to impress his brother, who pretends to be married to his factory assistant. Professor Jos Rodrigo Lazo moderates a discussion as part of UCI's Latin American Film Festival. UCI Film and Video Center, Humanities Instruction Building, Room 100, Campus & W. Peltason drs., Irvine, (714) 543-0613;www.humanities.uci.edu/fvc. Fri., 7 p.m. $3-$5.
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