Sunset Blvd.

Sunset Blvd.

4.7 9
Director: Billy Wilder

Cast: Billy Wilder, William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich Von Stroheim


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Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard ranks among the most scathing satires of Hollywood and the cruel fickleness of movie fandom. The story begins at the end as the body of Joe Gillis (William Holden) is fished out of a Hollywood swimming pool. From The Great Beyond, Joe details the circumstances of hisSee more details below


Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard ranks among the most scathing satires of Hollywood and the cruel fickleness of movie fandom. The story begins at the end as the body of Joe Gillis (William Holden) is fished out of a Hollywood swimming pool. From The Great Beyond, Joe details the circumstances of his untimely demise (originally, the film contained a lengthy prologue wherein the late Mr. Gillis told his tale to his fellow corpses in the city morgue, but this elicited such laughter during the preview that Wilder changed it). Hotly pursued by repo men, impoverished, indebted "boy wonder" screenwriter Gillis ducks into the garage of an apparently abandoned Sunset Boulevard mansion. Wandering into the spooky place, Joe encounters its owner, imperious silent star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). Upon learning Joe's profession, Norma inveigles him into helping her with a comeback script that she's been working on for years. Joe realizes that the script is hopeless, but the money is good and he has nowhere else to go. Soon the cynical and opportunistic Joe becomes Norma's kept man. While they continue collaborating, Norma's loyal and protective chauffeur Max Von Mayerling (played by legendary filmmaker Erich von Stroheim) contemptuously watches from a distance. More melodramatic than funny, the screenplay by Wilder and Charles Brackett began life as a comedy about a has-been silent movie actress and the ambitious screenwriter who leeches off her. (Wilder originally offered the film to Mae West, Mary Pickford and Pola Negri. Montgomery Clift was the first choice for the part of opportunistic screenwriter Joe Gillis, but he refused, citing as "disgusting" the notion of a 25-year-old man being kept by a 50-year-old woman.) Andrew Lloyd Webber's long-running musical version has served as a tour-de-force for contemporary actresses ranging from Glenn Close to Betty Buckley to Diahann Carroll.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Rachel Saltz
Billy Wilder's terrifying valentine to Hollywood, Sunset Boulevard (1950), features one of the most indelible of all screen performances: Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond. Norma, the aging silent-movie star who ensnares down-at-the-heels screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden), is the vamp become vampire (look at those clawlike hands!), a woman who trades on charms that have long since ossified and curdled. In many ways a horror film -- with the broken-down mansion, the wind playing through the organ pipes, the dead monkey, even Norma herself -- Sunset Boulevard is also an essay about Hollywood and its discontents. If Norma is warped (and she is), the warping Hollywood culture of ego, vanity, and delusion is at least partially to blame. Another casualty is Max von Mayerling, Norma's servant (previously her director and husband), played to self-lacerating perfection by Erich von Stroheim. Though the movie critiques the excesses of Hollywood's silent era, it also reinvigorates the myth of that time. Stars did have faces then -- and magical names. Compared to the workaday Hollywood of the film's present tense, the glamour conjured by Norma's mere mention of Valentino is potent indeed.
All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Tackling the kind of movie "that never quite worked," Billy Wilder made one of greatest films about Hollywood. In his pungent satire of the industry's sordidness, Wilder turned Hollywood history back on itself, with the presence of silent film star Gloria Swanson as aging silent diva Norma Desmond and great silent director Erich von Stroheim as her butler eloquently commenting on the ephemerality of fame. Her writer/gigolo Joe Gillis incarnated corruptly desperate young Hollywood, dismissing forgotten greats like Buster Keaton as "waxworks" while imagining that he can escape unscathed from Norma's fantasy world. Shot in ultra-noir black-and-white in a 1920s Hollywood mansion, the looming ceilings, overstuffed rooms, and oblique lighting rendered Norma's environment alluringly sinister in its deteriorating decadence, while Joe's famous "entrance" -- floating face-down dead in Norma's pool while recounting his story in voiceover -- caustically upended narrative conventions. Greeted with raves, Sunset Boulevard became Swanson's cinematic triumph; William Holden's performance as Joe (replacing Montgomery Clift) reignited his own stardom. Despite offending the movie moguls, Wilder was rewarded with eleven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Actor, and Actress. Along with wins for Art Direction and Franz Waxman's score, Wilder, Charles Brackett and D.M. Marshman, Jr. took a Screenplay prize. Adapted as a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Paramount Catalog
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Special Features

Never-before-released deleted scene-The Paramount Don't Want Me Blues Sunset Boulevard: The Beginning Sunset Boulevard: A Look Back The Noir Side of Sunset Boulevard Sunset Boulevard Becomes a Classic Galleries Theatrical Trailer HD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
William Holden Joe Gillis
Gloria Swanson Norma Desmond
Erich Von Stroheim Max Von Mayerling
Nancy Olson Betty Schaefer
Fred Clark Sheldrake
Lloyd Gough Morino
Franklin Farnum The Undertaker
Larry Blake Finance Man
Charles Dayton Finance Man
Cecil B. DeMille Himself
Creighton Hale Actor
Arthur Lane Actor
John Miller Hog Eye
Billy Sheehan 2nd Assistant Director
Archie Twitchell Actor
Jack Webb Artie Green
Sidney Skolsky Himself
Eddie Dew Assistant Coroner
Tommy Ivo Boy
Kenneth Gibson Salesman
Ruth Clifford Sheldrake's Secretary
Bert Moorhouse Gordon Cole
E. Mason Hopper Doctor/Courtier
Virginia Randolph Courtier
Al Ferguson Phone Standby
Stan Johnson 1st Assistant Director
Julia Faye Hisham
Gertrude Astor Courtier
Frank O'Connor Courtier
Ralph Montgomery First Prop Man
Eva Novak Courtier
Bernice Mosk Herself
Gertrude Messenger Hair Dresser
John Cortay Young Policeman
Robert E. O'Connor Jonesy
Gerry Ganzer Connie
Joel Allen Second Prop Man
Ottola Nesmith Woman
Jay Morley Fat Man
Howard Negley Captain of Police
Ken Christy Captain of Homicide
Len Hendry Police Sergeant
Howard Joslin Police Lieutenant
Emmett E. Smith Man
Yvette Vickers Actor

Technical Credits
Billy Wilder Director,Screenwriter
Charles Brackett Producer,Screenwriter
Charles C. Coleman Asst. Director
Sam Comer Set Decoration/Design
John Cope Sound/Sound Designer
Hans Dreier Art Director
Farciot Edouart Special Effects
Ray Evans Songwriter
Doane Harrison Editor
Edith Head Costumes/Costume Designer
Gordon Jennings Special Effects
Harry Lindgren Sound/Sound Designer
Jay Livingston Songwriter
D.M. Marshman Screenwriter
John Meehan Art Director
Ray Moyer Set Decoration/Design
Arthur P. Schmidt Editor
John F. Seitz Cinematographer
Carl Silvera Makeup
Richard Strauss Score Composer
Franz Waxman Score Composer
Wally Westmore Makeup

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