Sunset Blvd. (1950) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: The story, set in '50s Hollywood, focuses on Norma Desmond, a silent-screen goddess whose pathetic belief in her own indestructibility has turned her into a demented recluse. The crumbling Sunset Boulevard mansion where she lives with only her butler, Max who was once her director and husband has become her self-contained world. Norma dreams of a comeback to pictures and she begins a relationship with Joe Gillis, a small-time writer who becomes her lover, that will soon end with murder and total madness. Runtime: 110 mins Release Date: 24 Aug 1950
The Hollywood Myth FOREVER Shattered !!! (by Don-102)
Until 1950, American films were strictly entertainment, some deeper than others. Studio executives were very protective of image and star-making. In essence, everything seemed perfect. Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, and D.M. Marshman, Jr. created a stunning work of art that splits the Hollywood sign in two and exposed a dream factory for what it really is: a struggle to both gain and keep notoriety in the limelight. "Norma Desmond" and "Joe Gillis" are at opposite ends of this warped Hollywood mindset, with Gillis, played by that most cynical of actors, William Holden <more>
trying to pay the rent and Norma Gloria Swanson living a lie as a silent queen whose star burned "10,000 midnights ago". How a picture with such a snide look at the industry could come out in 1950 is simply mind-boggling, considering some of the light fodder that came out of Hollywood at the time. It has inspired many modern day disciples such as Altman's THE PLAYER, and Sonnenfeld's GET SHORTY, both of which took their vicious, hilarious parodies to the jugular of the movie capital of the world. SUNSET BLVD is the father of all socially oriented pictures regarding the movies and is by far the best.The images of this beautiful black and white powerhouse are fascinating and unforgettable: the dead writer floating in a pool, eyes wide open, looking right at us at the beginning; the eerie pipe organ that plays by the breeze in the middle of one of the most deep and dustiest sets ever; the funeral ceremony of the dead monkey in Norma's courtyard "That must have been one important chimp. The grandson of King Kong perhaps." says Holden in a delightfully crisp and wise voice-over. Holden pulls his car into a driveway off of the boulevard that will change his life forever. He is the emblem of the struggle to get notoriety. He has only a few B Movies to his credit. Swanson as Norma Desmond is the symbol of lost fame and has become the talk of legend. What is ironic about her character is that she may be playing herself in an odd way. She WAS an actual silent star whose career went down the tubes after the talkies came about. Her madness combined with Holden's last drop of naiveté combine to give us one of the most electrifying "give and take" between actors I've ever witnessed.Both lead parts were passed over by several actors. Holden was eventually forced into it as a contract player. How could you pass on such a script? Even "wax figures" as Holden calls them Buster Keaton, H.B. Warner, and Anna Q. Nilsson come to Norma's to play bridge, of course being Hollywood outcasts themselves, after the invention of sound in film. Some of the dialogue takes a swing at actual movies and people GONE WITH THE WIND, Zanuck, Menjou . This must have brought the house down in Hollywood screening rooms throughout the town. Louis B. Mayer even condemned Billy Wilder for "ruining the industry". The film is sad and darkly humorous depicting the antics of Norma, who is quite insane, and Holden who is going along with what Norma is giving him, but has plans of his own. Another wax figure still alive and kicking in 1950 appears as himself in an important role. Cecil B. Demille, who once directed Norma/Gloria back in the silent heyday, tries to set her straight, telling her pictures have "changed". They had indeed, especially after this searing comment on celebrity status. I wonder if they knew what they were creating while making this gem.Scenes are shot right on the lot of Paramount Studios even the front gate , and Norma's mansion is an unforgettable piece of history and gloom with a floor that "Valentino once danced on." There is so much to discuss, but little to enlighten you on how great SUNSET BLVD is without you seeing it. Just two years later, films began to crop up with the same tainted view of Hollywood, most with varying degrees of deception. SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, one of the all-time entertainments quietly had a nasty taste in its mouth regarding celebrity and the invention of sound movies. Watch these films closely and see the skeletons of the modern Hollywood bash films.RATING: 10 of 10
They Don't Make 'Em Like This Anymore (by belikemichaeldotcom)
This is such a great film on so many levels I can't really settle on where to begin. It is so beautifully shot in that stark black/white that only nitrate negative could achieve , has a witty, clever and extremely well-written script, features some of the best acting in film's history, acrobatically balances the main plot/subplots with expert precision, contains some of the best characters on celluloid, has many true-to-life parallels Swanson's career/real life cameos/DeMille's involvement/etc and is peppered with such great dialogue/narration that today's film writers <more>
should take note. If that weren't enough, there's even a cameo by silent film great Buster Keaton among others .One of the most appealing aspects of this film is how, in the story, an aging, forgotten star is trying to recapture a bygone era the silent film era . What's interesting is that now, so many years later, we're looking back at her looking back. To present day viewers, Gloria Swanson of the 1950's is a long forgotten lost gem and to experience her own longing for the 1920's is especially captivating and a little chilling, I might add . I don't think this film could have had that same effect when it debuted and maybe this added dimension holds so much more appeal for today's audiences. We all know that nothing lasts forever, but we don't often consider the abandoned participants; much like the veterans of a past war.In response to the famous Swanson line while watching one of her silent films : "...we didn't need dialogue; we had faces", I'd like to also add that they "didn't need movies; they had films."They truly don't make them like this anymore. 10/10
A very brave look at Hollywood when Hollywood was bullied by an absurd censorship. (by Sara_Golfarbs_fate)
Usually, Cinema is considered as the most delicate form of art because it has the biggest potential to become 'dated' one day. Once a movie thought as 'mind-blowing' can easily become a 'turkey' a decade later.This is not the case here. Sunset Boulevard still remains as one of the most eerie film in the cinema history and still a realistic depiction because of its reflection of Hollywood. It can give you the idea of the dream land's transformation into a nightmare.The film is about a troubled script writer 'Joe Gillis and a forgotten silent film star Norma <more>
Desmond's weird relationship and the madness that surrounds them and the people around them. Don't wanna give much of the plot, on account the fact that it is a pure gem that should be invented without knowing nothing. But I can talk about the cinematic aspects of this movie.This movie has some very eerie moments because of using a great cinematography. The moments of burying the dead monkey and watching the old film of Norma Desmond are exquisitely presented. The movie has some one of the most innovative scripts of cinema and that is certainly justified by the unforgetable and memorable lines captured from the film. The directing is top-notch but who are we kidding it is Billy 'the great' Wilder. The end of the movie is one of the most chilling part of the movie and it can truly give you some nightmares about insanity. The narration of the movie by the head character was probably done by this movie at the first place and this influenced so many movies afterwards.One of the reasons that this movie is still not dated is because of its courage. The Hayes code was at its peak at the beginning of fifties which manipulates the producers to limit their bad thoughts on one subject, especially on Hollywood. The movie got 11 oscar nomination but only got 3 of them. Apparently, the reason was its harsh criticism on Hollywood.There are some arguements about Sunset Boulevard's genre. It is considered as the greatest film-noir of all time. I don't think it is a film-noir at all. For some aspects, the movie has some noirish elements such as the black and white German-expressionist cinematography and an 'on the edge of insanity', femme-fatale but these two are not enough to make a film-noir. I think this is a psyhcological drama with some horror the end is horrifying for me and with some very very dark comedy.Overall, This is truly a classic and one of the best movies of cinema history that will never lose its effects on cinema. Heavily influences American Beauty and Mulholland Drive, also making those movies a must see. 10/10
I have yet to see a Billy Wilder film that I haven't loved, and Sunset Boulevard is definitely one of those films. It's interesting to watch the film during different times in one's life when I was a child watching this film, I thought the story was good and that Norma Desmond Swanson was a pretty scary lady. In my teens/college years, I appreciated it as a certified classic and for its commentary on Hollywood. Now, in my late 20's and early 30's I found it to have a different impact on me I was saddened by Desmond's mental illness, and when she makes her final <more>
descent down her staircase and utters her famous line as the camera pans the faces of the people around her, so full of pity, and the care her butler/ex-husband takes to make sure she's happy for maybe the last time in her life made more of an impact on me than any other time in the 20-odd times I've seen this film. There are only a small handful of central characters in Sunset Boulevard and they are so richly written that this film will remain timeless. There are not a lot of `dated' themes in this film the circle of life that is Hollywood isn't going to be much more evolved in 2050 than it was in 1950. If you haven't seen this film, watch it because there is something for just about anyone in this film.--Shelly
Gloria Swanson must be commended for her bravery in taking a part which may or may not have echoed her own Hollywood career. William Holden took a role which required him to be a kept boy; and he's not the nicest guy in the world either. If this had been made with Mae West and Montgomery Clift, I would probably not be writing this and no one else would give a damn about this movie either.Both of them got Oscar nominations and I am sorry both lost. I am also sorry that "All About Eve" won Best Picture that year. Of course "Eve" is a great movie, but its not this.This <more>
movie is part of our collective memory and most of the dialogue continues to be quoted even today. Thank God for whatever it was that brought Billy Wilder to Hollywood. I can't think of anyone who did such a wide variety of movies so well.And please, no remakes.
This is often cited as the first and sometimes the best of explicitly folded films. That's where you have a film within a film and the two merge. It isn't the first or nearly the best of course, but because it was made by a slick Hollywoood director is seems simpler than it is.The setup is simple: the outside movie is the one we are watching obviously , reinforced by the control of a voice-over. The movie within is the fantasy world of an aging actress, "directed" by her husband-butler-director played by a real director. They are missing a writer which is where the <more>
crossover occurs. We watch as the writer becomes engaged literally as it turns out to write the inner movie. He escapes at night to write a third movie, presumably all three to be produced by deMille who plays himself. The three merge at the end, resulting in the writer's death.We know something is up at the very beginning. The original "writer" is portrayed as monkey, literally. On the monkey's death, they expect a replacement and prepare a room. The machinery of noir fate directs our hapless writer to that room a hack plot device having to do with a car repo .Folded films don't often provide room for folded acting, usually the two are are distinct. Most viewers of the film will think it merely an opportunity for an aging actress to play an aging actress, something like "All About Eve" of the same year and which influenced this project .Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
This movie deserves all the accolades it has gotten here, as well as "Maltin's" four stars. It certainly ranks up there as one of Hollywood's greatest achievements. Seeing it again only reinforces my opinion that William Holden was one of the truly great actors of the last [!] century. Gloria Swanson, however, steals every scene she's in; you can't turn away from watching her, even though she makes you really uncomfortable - it's like watching a train wreck. I don't know if the black & white was an economic or an artistic choice, but the film would never <more>
have been as effective in color. The opening shot - the floating, dead body of Joe Gillis, eyes wide open, shot looking up from the bottom of the pool - is one of the great shots, and an unforgettable opener, matched perfectly by the unforgettable closing closeup of Norma Desmond. To have Cecil B. deMille actually play himself was an inspired touch. Throw in Eric von Stroheim and you have an unbeatable combination. Truly one the all-time must-see films, although I don't know how to classify it - film noir? black comedy? Hollywood fable ? horror story? psychodrama? Who cares; just see it.
On my first viewing, I wasn't particularly impressed with this movie but I liked it a lot more on the second and by the third - when it's magnificently transferred on DVD - I was fan, too. This is a good visual film, particularly when it shows the inside of this incredible mansion where a lot of the scenes take place.To those who have never seen it, you are warned that it is not an easy film to view, it being a portrait of a pathetic has-been silent movie star who still thinks she can come back after a long hiatus and be a star again. Gloria Swanson, who plays the role, overacts and <more>
certainly is not appealing, even bordering on grotesque at times, but she isn't supposed to look good. That's one of the points of the story. Anyway, a young William Holden, in his first starring role, is okay and also provides the narration.The most interesting figure in the film to me was the ex-husband-now butler, played by Eric von Stroheim. He's amazing in this film. In supporting roles, I also enjoyed the wholesome Nancy Olsen and the young Jack Webb of "Dragnet" fame.This combination of drama-soap opera-film noir is one of the professional critics all-time favorite films. Odd how they love movies and Hollywood stars so much, yet relish films that tear them down, as this does.
Widely heralded as a classic upon its initial release, the Billy Wilder-Charles Brackett production, Sunset Boulevard, is a superb piece of work in nearly all departments; and yet at some levels it disappoints upon repeated viewings. This is not an easy movie to love. The people in it are unsympathetic, as the leading male character is a hack screenwriter turned gigolo; and the woman he lives with is a mad former silent movie star who pins all her hopes on this third-rate writer's ability to write her 'comeback' picture. Neither is an amiable sort, but he is at least sane; and <more>
though he has an understanding of decency, he never quite achieves it. His goal is success. That he decieves two women who care for him deeply bothers him from time to time, when it is an inconvenience, but doesn't otherwise seem to bedevil him or prey on his thoughts. As a cynical picture of postwar Hollywood the movie is flawless. It captures the moment when the the studio system was at its absolute peak as well as at the start of its decline. The secondary characters are more likeable than the major ones, notably Erich von Stroheim's butler. Yet the film is not a satisfying portrait of mental illness, as the insane Norma Desmond, while superficially credible, has no inner life, or even a hint of one, as her demons appear to come more from her neglect by others than anything to do with herself. Her gigolo, Joe Gillis, is believable as a hustler but seems, in his narration and occasional asides, to be brighter and wittier than his behavior suggests. The characters, in other words, go through their motions, as the plot dictates; and while they are very interesting in what they do or fail at, they seem to have no life outside of the story. This is a movie about Hollywood rather than people; an immoral 'moral tale', it sometimes leaves a bad taste.For all its flaws, though, the movie works like a charm even when it is not itself charming. As Norma Desmond, Gloria Swanson is magnificent, larger than life, and every inch the former silent movie queen she plays in the picture. Her final scene is priceless, and the best shot in the movie. William Holden made a new career for himself thanks to Sunset Boulevard. For over a decade he had been playing rather bland, boy next door types, and his work here was a revelation. Joe Gillis was his best performance thus far, and made Holden overnight a hot property, and shortly thereafter the biggest male star in the business. His dry, almost affectless Midwestern delivery of dialogue and, especially, narration; his mixture of good manners and ambivilant morals; and his ability to command the screen with a flicker of expression, put him immediately into the major leagues. Sunset Boulevard does not in the end tell us more about Hollywood than the Selznick-Wellman A Star Is Born, but it does its job better, with pungent dialogue, brilliant acting and a sense of style rare in movies of the time and unheard of today.