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SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950)

sunset_boulevard

Famous silent movie star Norma Desmond’s career has faded to oblivion. Eager to make a comeback she chooses young B-Movie screenwriter Joe Gillis to fix her script. But during the process, Norma starts to fancy him. Financially dependent on her, it becomes more and more difficult for Joe to refuse her.

This film noir was directed by Austrian immigrant Billy Wilder (1906-2002) who is considered to be one of the top directors and writers during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Among his credits are classics like “Double Idemnity” (1944), “The Lost Weekend” (1945), “Sabrina” (1954) and “Some Like It Hot” (1959).

Although not all Hollywood “insiders” – some older movie stars and in particular MGM studio boss Louis B. Meyer – were very fond of Sunset Boulevard, it managed to garner 11 Academy Award nominations and 3 Academy Awards (Best Script, Best Art Direction, Best Score). The critical reception was tremendous, and also financially the film had a moderate success (it did well in the metropolitan areas, but poor in the countryside). In 1998, Sunset Boulevard was selected to be number 12 of AFI’s 100 best American movies.

Director Billy Wilder gathered a great crew (eight time Academy Award winner Edith Head for the costumes, composer Franz Waxman, art director Hans Dreier, make-up artist Wally Westmore) and cast: Gloria Swanson, herself a faded star from the silent era, as Norma Desmond, the up-and-coming William Holden as the young writer, and legendary silent filmmaker and actor Erich von Stroheim as Norma’s servant Max. In special appearances one can see other greats of the past: Comedian Buster Keaton, director Cecil B. DeMille, actress Anna Q. Nielsen and actor H.B. Warner.

The film’s story is said to be inspired by the life of actress Norma Talmadge – a superstar of the silent screen that did not succeed in making the transition to the talkies, had an affair with actor Gilbert Roland (who was 12 years younger than herself) and spent her later days in wealthy retirement. Another reference is to the mysterious murder case of film director William Desmond Taylor.

IMDb link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043014/?ref_=sr_2

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26 responses to “SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950)

  1. Chaitea ⋅

    This film took me by surprise. I thought it was very creative and full of twists and strange turn of events that kept me guessing till the end about what will happen next.
    The beginning where Gillis is lying dead on the pool, and the police and journalists swarm the house while a narration explained what was happening was quite an interesting start for the movie. I didn’t, for one minute think the guy dead in the pool was Mr. Gillis.
    As the story went on, the dead man was in the back of my head while I was caught up with the unfortunate events of Gillis’s existence. He seem to end up jumping from the pan to the fire because even though he would have lived in poverty and lost his car by living in the “real world” (the car which he ended up loosing anyway) rather than letting himself get tangled up with Norma, at least he would have been alive.
    Norma herself was an amazing character. She kept reminding me of a fairy tail witch because of her attire, manner of speech, acting and long finger nails. The kind you hear in fairy tales, luring people by the promise of success and luxury, only to bring them to their ruin – which did happen in this story too.
    I really liked the end scene where the butler/driver finally got to be a director again and Norma – though in a psychologically unstable manner, got the opportunity to be in front of the cameras again. The way the shot was taken, of Norma climbing down the staircase in slow motion while all the others standing around her were giving her some space, was very mystical and interesting.
    All in all it was a very good plot and story with humorous elements but relating a very sad reality of the lives of some of these rich hollywood ex-stars.

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  2. This movie certainly lived up to its reputation. I really enjoyed this movie. The movie was long, but no time was wasted. Every scene served a purpose to build the characters or set up the story. There is so much going on in the movie, but it is all so well written that it doesn’t feel cluttered.
    As crazy and damaged as all of these characters are, I actually feel sympathy for them. Norma kills Mr. Gillis, but I still feel bad for her. The was obviously not in a healthy state of mind, and her insanity was only fed by Max. Mr. Gillis was not completely innocent in all of this. I feel bad for him, but at the same time, maybe he deserved a shot in the back. He used Norma, but deep down I think that he really did care for her. I also don’t think that he had much of a choice. He had money trouble and he needed a job. Then when he realizes what was happening and tries to escape from the situation, Norma threatens to kill herself. Nobody is blameless. Everybody is manipulating each other for their own benefit.
    The way the story was told was interesting. The fact that Mr. Gillis is narrating the story after his death is a great idea. It helps build tension during the movie. Throughout the film I was noticing the signs. I was able to see how each step would connect to the unfortunate ending of Mr. Gillis.

    The final scene with Norma walking down the stairs was a masterpiece. Its almost as if the rest of the film was built around this scene. The beauty and the emotion in these scene was so powerful. Even though this was the first time for me to watch this film, I have seen that final scene before, and I was also familiar with the famous line “Alright, Mr. Devil, I’m ready for my close-up.”

    I am definitely adding this movie to my list of favourites.

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  3. Richard Specht ⋅

    When we started watching this film I had not the slightest clue what was going on. I did not actually figure it out until about thirty minutes into the movie. To be honest, this is the least enjoyable film for me that we have watched so far this semester. I mean, it had a pretty decent plot, but it was not very appealing to me. I have heard of this movie before and I know it is very famous. I am not so sure why though. If I was Mr. Gillis I would have loved my situation of an older sugar momma buying me everything I desired, but I would not have walked away from her like he did in the end with a gun in her hand. That was a pretty idiotic move if you ask me. No wonder he got killed. Anyways, I thought the movie dragged on for way to long and ended pretty badly. The part when she was walking out looking at the cameras and acting like a crazy woman was not my favorite. I understand it was the correct way to end the movie and tell the story, but I just found it uninteresting.

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  4. Jordan ⋅

    Not only is this film integral to the time period in which it was made, but its commentary on the transition from silent to “talkie” movies as well as the emerging “script factory” Hollywood production model is also important. The movie opens with a style that soon becomes synonymous with American style cinema, the dark, noir, detective style. Opening with the voice over excites the audience, and previewing the ending first also is an engaging tactic that is widely used today. In my opinion, this film is probably the most integral to American cinema culture/history that we have viewed so far, because not only is it a commentary to the time period in which it takes place, but also it also serves as an exposition into the inter workings of early Hollywood. Some of my favorite moments in the film were the swift one-liners in regards to writing or producing screenplays in the new Hollywood model. Not only for its comedic value, these lines were probably very much what actual Hollywood writers actually felt. Unfortunately my only complaint with the film was the rather unbelievable death of the main character at the films conclusion. But I suppose we have to suspend a certain amount of disbelief in regards to acting with some of these older films.

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  5. I certainly was not expecting to enjoy this movie as much as I did. The way the whole movie was told, from the beginning to the end, I thought it was brilliant. Especially for its time period, I believe that this is quite remarkable.

    I enjoy that with each character there is some sort of…flaw, to say the least. It is because of these flaws that the audience is able to relate to the characters. Gillis with his struggle to write scripts that will sell, and then bending in to the appetizing lure of money that Norma offers. While he kept telling himself, and others, that he was only using her for what she offered him, there was still some compassion behind his actions. If not, then he would not have rushed back home when he had heard that she slit her wrists.
    Then there is Norma, who has become a self absorbed delusional actress who, in the end goes crazy. While she causes much mayhem throughout the film, it is difficult to hold any sort of displeasured feelings towards her. In fact, there is more pity and some empathy towards her actions.
    Max, Norma’s first husband who still sticks around to care for her is probably the most troubled character in the movie. While he may seem normal and quite caring to look after Norma the way he does, I believe that if it weren’t for him Norma would not be so delusional. By writing countless fan letters to her, and praising her, babying her conceited personality, he is sending her further and further into the darkness that consumes her.

    I enjoyed how we are introduced to the film with Gillis’ narration about a man who was found dead in a swimming pool, and how he was going to tell the story. In the end, it was Gillis himself. “…and now you know the story…” I enjoyed this bit very much. Also the final scene where Norma walks down the stair case with the cameras rolling does a splendid job at wrapping up the film. This shows just how much Max does for Norma, feeding into her delusions and just how crazed she has become.

    It is definitely a movie that I would watch again.

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  6. michi1st

    I have seen Sunset Boulevard (1950) before and I was worried that I would be bored seeing it again. I am one of those people who really hates watching things multiple times because once I know what happens, I find myself losing interest the second time around. But nope! I enjoyed it even more than the first time. There is something about the characters in this movie that make this film special as compared to modern movies where most of the movie is sold on cheap comedy or action. The plot is so simple but the characters really bring the story to life.

    My favorite character in this movie has to be Norma. She must have been incredibly difficult to play but silent movie actress Gloria Swanson really brought her to life. Her facial expressions were very stylized to what her character would have been used to, and her dialogue delivery was extravagant. It was the perfect balance for her character and everything about her was perfect, including her flaws.

    The mise-en-scene and the way the setting and lighting and props dropped hints about the characters and their motivations was really well done. It’s interesting how the director almost makes you forget that Norma actually shows the gun to the audience earlier in the scene, but you don’t make the connection that that is the final murder weapon until much later.

    This movie is also where the line “I am ready for my close up” comes from. It’s famous and many people know what it is without seeing this movie.

    The music was also amazing. It really added to the atmosphere of the film and made the suspense all much more suspenseful. Lastly, the narration for the film was utilized very well. It added to the atmosphere of the film and whenever you start to forget that there was a murder, the dark tone of the narration would remind you “right, there something really bad is going to happen to this guy.”

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  7. Yuki ⋅

    Personally this film, Sunset Boulevard (1950), was one of the best old American films I’ve ever watched. It received 11 Academy Award nominations and won three Academy Awards.
    Gloria Swanson was legend in this film. The story was mainly about Norma Desmond who was long-forgotten silent-film star. In the plot, she was eager to revive her acting career and she strongly believed that she would make it while it was almost impossible. Swanson acted such a difficult role. I thought her acting was a bit exaggerated because Swanson, herself, was a star in the silent era, but I felt that it really matched the role. Her acting well expressed Norma’s insanity and madness.
    Not only Swanson, the casting selection of this film was amazing. Many actors and actresses had some relationship between their role and their reality. For example, Swanson was a faded legendary actress same as her role, Norman. The director, Cecil B. DeMille appeared as himself, and he actually was a director of many Swanson’s films in reality. The Swanson’s loyal servant, Max was acted by Erich von Stroheim and he was also a director of Swanson’s film in the past. So in the scene which Max screened a film in the Norma’s house, a scene from Queen Kelly (1929) which was directed by Stroheim was shown. Because of these casting, it seemed that actresses and actors had some kind of sympathy with their roles. I thought that their acting was very natural in the result.
    The film was full of surprises from the beginning to the end. Amazing script and great actors. I had no surprised when I knew that this film was ranked number twelve on the American Film Instirtute’s list of the 100 best American films of the 20th century.

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  8. Hosta Mahogey ⋅

    Sunset Boulevard is a masterpiece. The acting, directing, sets, score, and style are all so on point. It captures and embodies the elements of film noir perfectly. It is certainly my favorite film watched in the class thus far.

    The story kept me enthralled the entire course of the film. I have noticed a theme of the protagonist being a super dynamic character in the past couple of films we have watched, and I love it. Most of the time the character starts as nothing, gets to the top, and ends up worse than where he starts. That being said, the variety in the other elements of these films makes every viewing a unique and fresh experience.

    The acting was probably my favorite part of Sunset Boulevard; especially that of Gloria Swanson. As everyone else is saying, her performance was beyond exceptional.

    The back story of this Sunset makes the already great film even better. Many of these actors almost play a version of themselves. They have experienced the events that the characters go through in real life, and I think that really helps the film as a whole.

    I found the narration of the film very intriguing as well. A lot of the time I find a film noir-sh narration to be somewhat cheesy, but it fit right in in Sunset. And on top of that, the fact that the protagonist is narrating his time until his own death is such a novel idea.

    Overall, Sunset Boulevard is a fantastic film. It can easily be shown to and enjoyed by just about anyone. I believe it will continue to be displayed as a milestone of film for a very long time to come.

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  9. This film was a refreshing break from The Roaring Twenties and the Jesse James. This was probably one of the most enjoyable films I have watched in this class and this year as well.

    I liked how the themes of this film tied into what we have been learning about the change in Hollywood from its inception to further on and it portrayed the negatives and positives in a way that was incredibly entertaining.

    First of all the acting was really quite fantastic, Gloria Swanson really showcased an ability to naturally act as overacting which I found quite fascinating. I found myself intensely disliking and feeling sorry for her at the same time.

    I think it’s quite interesting how each actor was playing themselves of people they knew, as the period of silent films hadn’t been so far away at that point. It also intrigues me how they took the real events of a murder and worked them around into a story about the evolution of the movie business.

    The set and the technical aspects of the film were incredible as well. Everything showing up perfectly on the film without ever feeling as though there was anything superfluous used. Ever detail felt important and helped to bring the world of the characters to life.

    Many times I feel like modern day audiences write off black and white films as being boring, or lacking something because of the lack of color, but there is nothing that feels lacking in this film and it is one I would definitely recommend to those who shy from B/W films.

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  10. hanaji0 ⋅

    In the ending scene, when Joe is shot by Norma and falls down into the pool, it reminds me of the scene from Great Gatsby. In a big, gorgeous house, Gatsby was killed just like Joe in Sunset Boulevard. Interestingly, both Joe and Gatsby have dreams to be successful. However, the endings of their lives are both futile. In Sunset Boulevard, the lives of both male and female characters seem empty. They both are kind of outsiders from their society. Norma is an old actress who has already lost her fame but she could not deal with the reality and live in an illusionary world she created. Her gorgeous house can be the symbol of her dream, isolated world. Even though Joe has not done any big films in his career, he has dreamed to become a famous writer in film industry. He is the one who always has to deal with bills, debt and reality. However, encountering with Norma, he joins to her illusionary world. As the price of that, he loses his life at the end. This is why this film makes me feel empty. Norma is obsessed with her past fame and Joe. Her obsession ruins Joe’s life. The ending just makes me feel so powerless.

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  11. ken032192

    Sunset Boulevard was quite an interesting and entertaining film that I watched in this class, even more so than the other ones so far. This film had quite an intriguing plot from start to finish, and it has really kept me excited and made me wonder what events would happen after each scene, as there were quite a lot of unpredictable twists and turns throughout.

    The opening scene of Joe found dead floating in a swimming pool was quite a surprising way to begin the film, then hearing his narration of the events leading up to his eventual death from there kept me both curious and engaged in learning how he got killed in the end. This is one of those few rare films that actually did a fantastic job in telling a story after already showing the death of the main character from the beginning, and revealing their demise after establishing everything that happened. The narration itself was often hilarious in hearing Joe’s periodic comments to certain moments, which are quite cheesy, but in a good way for me, and I had a few chuckles here and there.

    The acting and dialogue of the characters was quite superb in this film, and I hardly found any flaws in any of them as well. They were each memorable in their own ways, but they are flawed in some way. Joe for instance, seemed to be a normal, serious, and determined man who wanted to become famous and have a job, as he only wrote for a couple of films that did not do so well. His intentions may have been positive, but ever since his first meeting with the fallen movie star Norma, things started to go downhill for him. Not only did Joe had to work for the foul-mouthed, harsh woman who was emotionally crazed and delusional of attempting suicide in the past and kept believing she had potential in reviving her acting career, but he also ended up being killed by her after bluntly revealing the whole truth to her. Had Joe been more cautious and considerate of Normal and her delusional fantasies and not being so honest to her, he would have got away without being killed, but if that happened then the entire film wouldn’t have a major impact in the ending, though I am still satisfied with the way it ended. I found Max to be an interesting character in that he was not only Norma’s first husband who actually stuck with her as a butler for so long, but also in that he unexpectedly played a major role that lead to the fallen actress’ delusions, since he was the one wrote all the fan mail to her just to make her proud of herself and to prevent her from attempting suicide further. For a supporting character, Max did play an meaningful, fatherly role to Norma and actually cares for her so much, though ironically it only makes her delusions stick around for longer until she finally knew the truth from Joe.

    I did feel sorry for Norma herself throughout the film, even though she had so many obvious flaws in her character. All she wanted was to revive her actress career after being long forgotten and unpopular over the years, though her emotionally unstable nature causes her to lose sense of reality and become so delusional, and at times violent too, such as when she apparently killed her “pet” chimpanzee and shot Joe three times at the end. Her personality reminds me of Cruella de Vil from the Disney’s animated movie: 101 Dalmatians, as they are both very crazy, insane, arrogant, and demented in so many ways, they are both heavy smokers, and appear to live a rich life in mansions. The similarities are just so mind-blowing between the two, that it almost feels like Norma herself is like an earlier, live-action version of Cruella, even though a live-action version of 101 Dalmatians already existed and someone else portrayed her as well. I also don’t quite understand why Normal suddenly fell in love with Joe later on as he kept working for her, and I honestly have no idea what made her want to lust for him without almost any explanation whatsoever. I do have to say though, that Norma’s final performance in the ending of her slowly and dramatically going down the stairs in front of dozens of camera in her mansion was quite a powerful scene for her part. The way she believed that she was so glad to have finally returned to being an actress once again and saying the line, “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.” really stood out and made a significant impact in itself. It was also rather nice to see Max acting as a director during that time, which was a decent touch. Overall, Norma’s acting as the mentally crazed, fallen actress was quite fitting in the majority of the scenes she appeared in, especially in the ending itself, which I could never forget.

    All in all, this film was very fun to watch, and I say this is absolutely another one of my favorite classic American films I’ve watched in this class. In my opinion, I thought this film was just as great as the previous film, Jesse James, though I like this film slightly better. This is definitely another film I would like to watch again sometime in my spare time.

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  12. Marya ⋅

    This film had quickly grabbed my attention from the beginning with the corpse floating in the swimming. It may be because I like to watch murder mysteries, but I really liked how the story flowed. It started off with the character; Joe Gillis’ narration in a third person perspective, and as the story progresses it perfectly loops back to the first scene of the film, in which we are revealed that the corpse was Joe himself. To me this was mind-boggling and made this film a very entertaining piece. The story has fairly insane and crazy twists to the plots but I think it was cleverly constructed and really took the film to a whole new level.

    The film engaged really well with the characters and portrayed each and every individual’s desires and mental turmoil caused by desires. Joe is torn between pursuing his dream through Norma’s financial support and falling in love with young Betty, who has so much potential. However, he starts to feel sympathetic towards Norma for her conduction. The whole concept of a love triangle entwined with elements of desire, guilt and lust was interesting and somewhat thrilling to watch.

    The film portrayed Norma to be the victim, the tragic heroine of the film industry of the 50’s. I got the impressions that Hollywood treated celebrities like disposable objects, once they were old they were no longer useful and were neglected. The gradual growth of Norma’s insanity and compulsive behavior when she thought that she would be called back into the film world again, really made me feel sympathetic for her and it really ate at me. Regardless the wealthy life she had, she didn’t have the same spotlight as when she was young. She was afraid to face reality and relived the happiest time of her life by being cooped up in the mansion. The more insane she became the more she looked possessed, although she is a very beautiful woman I think the black and white created a rather haunting feel to her look.

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  13. Kris ⋅

    Finally a movie that does nearly everything technically correctly, I can focus on the actual plot and story rather than the technical problems. Boulevard is a truly cinematic experience using all of the cinema devices that have been learned over the years by Hollywood. To go along with the cinema technicals is the excellent story and deep plot. Multiple plot lines are very evident in this story including the relationship between Desmond and Gillis, between Desmond and her butler, Desmond and herself, Gillis and Betty, Betty and her fiancé, the list goes on. YOu could say that other movies of the time share these same multiple plot lines but, in my opinion, they don’t go deep enough. There is also some very smart writing involved with this movie. One little tid bit that sticks out in my mind is the reference to Dicken’s Great Expectations early on in the movie. Very clever to add that into the story for it allows Desmond’s position in life to be fully explained without even her saying a word. This plot device was ingenious.

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  14. maiorengi

    Joe opens the narration by describing the reason for the police cars and reporters rushing along Sunset Blvd. on such a beautiful day until the introduction settles on his own dead body in a pool. I didn’t know from the outset that the man telling the story is also the dead man, but it became clear fairly early on that they are one and the same. It seems the opening of a bright sunny day surrounding such dark deeds is par for the course for film noir. It, nevertheless, also has a comedy touch by using an interesting way of showing the dead body of joe’s. In the story, Joe’s feeling for Norma was really obscure because he was cruel at one time, and he was comforting her another time. For example, When she threatens suicide, he told her, ” Oh, wake up, Noma. You’d be killing yourself to an empty house. The audience left 20 years ago.” At the same time, there is a certain pity saying, ” Poor devil,” he says, ” still waving proudly to a parade which had long since passed her by. Norma seems like a living ghost, a remnant of another time. Many of the scenes that are supposed to be within Norma’s mansion are dark and shadowy, and the furniture is old and heavy-looking, as is Norma’s style of dress.

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  15. janey ⋅

    Sunset Boulevard is a really important film for its time. However, I don’t think I would want to watch this movie again.

    Norma Desmonds acting was amazing throughout the film and I really liked the way it was narrated by Joe’s. One thing that surprised me while watching this film was when Max revealed that he was Norma’s first husband. I think I sympathized with him the most, because he was so loyal and seemed to be the only one to see past Norma’s insanity and still love the person that she was before that. I wasn’t particularly fond of Betty either, it feels like she was just put in there to re-inspired Joe about writing and the create romantic conflict between Betty, Joe, and Norma.

    Overall the movie seemed to move pretty slowly. The picture was very beautiful and the shots were all very effective in moving the story forward. I don’t know if I really cared by the end that Joe died, but I did feel like someone should needed to shake Norma to her senses.

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  16. satchi ⋅

    From the introduction we heard in class, I was pleasantly surprised when the film started out in the format of a murder story. As mentioned later, it was also a nice touch that the story was basically a flashback that was narrated by the murder victim. In this way, I also enjoyed how the movie started and ended in the same spot/scene in time. For as exciting as it made an opening, it made for an exciting if not eery ending.

    As for the characters, I didn’t really relate to any of them in the beginning, but I was slowly drawn in the more we learned about them. I especially liked Max. I really hoped we would get more of his story, and it was an exciting, if not also eery, one as well. I also feel like the main character got a tad bit more endearing as the film went on, although I don’t really see him as a good person. It was nice to see that he did end up sort of taking pity on Norma, although it was hard to tell if he actually sort of cared a tad, or he just pretended too since she was taking care of him.

    I ended up feeling really sorry for Norma at the end. She was insane, but it was in a way that you could understand. Personally, I can’t imagine what it would be like to be forced to step away from doing what you love. I would probably end up resorting to suicide as well in the end….

    Speaking of acting, Gloria Swanson really was phenomenal. I really liked how dramatic yet subtle some of her emotions and expressions could be. She really brought the hardships and entire character to life, perhaps because of her own personal troubles with the same problems. She was also able to switch between so many “personalities” and character traits, which really portrayed the many layers of her character.

    The costumes, also were very good. Norma was always dressed in such pretty things. I also enjoyed the main character’s clothing a lot better once Norma bought him new clothes. They fit him better and looked very nice.

    I also really liked how it was a black-and-white film even though color was an option at this time. Because it was based on a faded star of the silent era, it really added to the whole feel and theme of the movie.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this movie and would like to see it again.

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  17. Tim ⋅

    Sunset Boulevard (1950) is a cold-blooded dark satire film which is considered to be one of the most influential films in the cinema history and still is very relevant today because of its accurate reflection of Hollywood. No wonder why a lot of people call this film – “the best Hollywood film ever made about Hollywood”.

    Visually it was brilliantly executed, I particularly enjoyed the opening scene when the camera follows police cars and motorcycles as they pull up to a mansion where a dead body floats in a pool; and when the camera shows the inside of this incredible mansion where a lot of the scenes took place. I agree with the point mentioned above, about how the ending scene of Norma shooting Joe, looks a lot like the final scene from Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby.

    Overall it was very interesting film to watch and now I see why Sunset Boulevard is considered to be one of the best movies of cinema history. It is a drama, wonderfully dreary and dark, yet it has that brilliant satirical note, which balances things off and makes it even better. Also that final scene with Norma slowly walking down the stairs, all dressed up and never blinking and having that final look into the camera – that really sent shivers down my spine – what a brilliant performance by Gloria Swanson that was.

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  18. tatsuya ⋅

    “Sunset Boulevard” directed by Billy Wilder is one of the greatest black and white films I have seen so far. This film has a good reputation and I totally understood the reason by watching it. I really enjoyed how the story developed and human relationship in this film. I think the reason I liked this film is not only that I lived in Los Angeles for two years and often drove by Sunset boulevard but I met many people who desired to work in the Hollywood film industry but not everyone was successful. Also, it is not surprising to hope to meet someone famous and sneak into the industry. However I really liked this film. When money is involved, human relationship gets really complicated and greedy. Everybody often sees each other for their own benefit.

    The idea and the theme of the story in this film are still popular and seen in films nowadays. Everyone comes to Los Angeles for taking a big dream. Maybe Billy Wilder wrote a similar story about himself as he made a main character Mr. Gillis. This story is also the symbol of the behind scene of the Hollywood film industry. Its surface just looks very brilliant that everyone wants to work but the industry itself is very severe and has complicated and greedy human relationship.

    Mr. Gillis gets eventually killed in the end but the story starts when he is dead in the pool. So it is obvious that the story has a apprehension about what is going to happen. I personally do not really like when the timeline goes backward especially when there is no surprising ending in the story. I wonder if it was, at that time, popular way to show the ending of the story at the begining.

    I like “Sunset Boulevard” and enjoyed watching it.

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  19. Sunset Boulevard was my favorite movie so far. It wasn’t the first time I saw it, but every time I watch the movie it still has the same impact as it did the first time. The reason I enjoyed it so much was because of its focus was on the film industry. Since that is my major I found it very hard to look away. Also I really liked how there was a voice over in the beginning explaining the situation. First time I heard what the call “god” voice over on that early of a film. I’m usually not a big fan of voice overs unless it’s a documentary film but here it worked out very well. I also liked how they used Norma a sugar mama through the film. Anything Joe wanted he got. Also the fact and reality of the movie is pretty on point. Norma just thinks because she is famous her script is just going to be accepted and used , but in reality Hollywood is different. Not anyone can write a script there is a system that needs to be followed. Over all the cinematography was well done and the plot and progression of the story was also done very well. This is probably one of the best movies out there about the film industry.

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  20. Roger Murdock ⋅

    Ever since I first saw Sunset Boulevard, I have repeated Norma Desmond’s chilling line,
    “Alright Mr. Demille, I’m ready for my close-up” whenever I can as it is buried in my mind. The quote captures the sad gripping need for nostalgia that Ms. Desmond possesses, without which she would have to accept the cold truth that her time in the spotlight as a silent actress was outlived in the era of
    “talkies”.
    In this film, Billy Wilder masterfully unveils the fist underneath the glove that is “Hollywood” through the eyes of Joe Gillis, a small time Hollywood writer. Gillis is the perfect character for the audience to follow, as he is naïve in holding a glamorous view of Hollywood. Enthralled with the newest films and new actors, viewers subconsciously neglect the previous stars that, while still young in age, have no relevance to the industry and go from being highly revered to an afterthought, a harsh truth that Billy Wilder makes both Gillis and the audience realize. Max is the one character aware of the truth, but devotes his life to maintaining the façade that Norma Desmond lives under. Max symbolizes the moral dilemma that Wilder highlights: is it better to face the sad truth or live happily with a false consciousness? Norma cannot handle the truth and collapses under the weight of it.
    Sunset Boulevard in itself is an interesting Paradox. On one hand it is successful because of its critique of the façade of Hollywood, and the lack of permanence, substance and loyalty that it possesses, yet on the other hand, it cannot escape becoming yet another movie within this world.

    This is a phenomenal film, that can be watched multiple times for increased enjoyment, as knowing the end only makes the beggining more intriuiging. Additionally, brilliant performances by Gloria Swanson and William Holden make the characters believable of tragic Hollywood figures lost in industry.

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    • Sunset Boulevard was not a boring film, but I didn’t enjoy this film that much. The characters were interesting, but I didn’t like Norma at all. Everytime she spoke, a little of myself died inside. Her speech was very tiring for me to listen to. Gillis was an enjoyable character, although he did have a bit of bad luck throughout the film. I had no clue that the body floating in the pool at the beginning of the film was Gillis. I especially didn’t realize this since he was narrating the story. Only at the very end I began to realize the horrible luck Gillis had and finally put it all together. The plot was not as predictable as I expected the film to have, which somewhat startled me at the end. The whole film I was hoping Gillis would find his place and succeed, but he was always being dragged into some sort of bad situation. The film did a great job with Norma. She was a failed Hollywood movie star that was stuck in the past. As much as I didn’t like her character, she did wonderful at being a crazy ex-star. During the end, Wilder did an especially excellent job at framing her psychosis. It was a pretty amazing end to an interesting film.

      Overall, I don’t think I’d ever watch this film again, but I am glad that I had the chance to watch it.

      Like

  21. Tad ⋅

    Sunset Boulevard seemed to be a movie a head of its time. When I watched it I was surprised that the story was about an older woman who was basically preying on a younger man and abusing her money and power to keep him close to her. That this film portrayed a relationship like that during that time and that it had a romantic subplot between Gillis and Betty that ended up with Betty willing to leave her fiancé also surprised me for a film of that time.

    Overall I think the moved was very modern, covering issues that aren’t really thought of as happening back then, whether or not thats because of Hollywood’s self censorship, I don’t know.

    Like

  22. Carl ⋅

    “Sunset Blvd” was a roller coaster of moods and energy. There was never a dull moment in this film in which didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat. Norma Desmond’s role was amazing. Her delusional character was very entertaining and comical at the same time. This was my first Film Noir. This movie was made by an immigrant from Austria by the name of Billy Wilder who was considered one of the best directors of Hollywood’s Golden Age. The director did an outstanding job at hand picking his crew in which translated to a well-executed film. What blowed my mind was how an immigrant could of executed a story what takes place in Hollywood so efficiently. One of the scenes that I enjoyed from this film was the scene in which when Norma Desmond believe that she was going to be the star of film and she went through various things to ensure she looked her best on camera, from facials, to massages and getting her hair groomed. In conclusion this film was very entertaining from start to finish, I wish the director would have done a better job of showing interaction between Norma and Joe in places other than her home.

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  23. Nemokenza ⋅

    I thought Sunset Boulevard was a great film noir. While I’ve never been to 1930’s Hollywood, I have been to modern day Hollywood. The film did a great job of capturing the desperation that is in the air. For me the character of Norma is a direct representation of the out of favour starlet. She embodies a person who refuses to become a has been, or yesterday’s news. She’ll do anything to reclaim the spotlight, even murder. Yet I can’t fault her as much as I want to for the murder of Joe. While it’s wrong, you can almost feel the desperation for attention dripping off of the screen. Joe for me also embodies another ever-present character in Hollywood. He solidifies the dreamer who makes their way out west with hopes of hitting it “big”, however in a realistic way. It’s hard work breaking into the movie industry, even if you aren’t looking to act. Scriptwriters are often cast aside, same as directors. Hollywood might be glitzy and glamorous, however beneath the façade there is a sense of desperation that is tied to the city. And for better or for worse, this desperation pushes people to their limits.

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  24. tbrenji

    Sunset Blvd was fun and easy to relate to since I am a writer also. The life of a writer is usually a poor one, so it was understandable how Joe got himself into debt trouble. The narration was very film noir like. Although Joe seemed to become a bit too desperate over keeping his car, perhaps traveling and getting from place to place was part of a person’s livelihood at that time. Nowadays, places like Florida and California, you really can’t do anything like have a social life if you didn’t drive. So Joe’s desperation may have been justified. After meeting Norma Desmond, I found it humorous how she basically began to control Joe’s life. In the beginning, things became a bit weird with the monkey’s coffin incident. I thought this was perfect because it explained things on a few levels. It showed Desmond’s extravagant lifestyle. Not everyone owned a pet monkey. Also, her views were shown as very eccentric by throwing the monkey a proper and formal funeral. She showed her view of her status and disconnection with the current world. Believing that she never lost her stardom stating, “I am big, it’s the pictures that got small.” Referring to the addition of sound which ended the silent film era. Joe’s plan to use Desmond and make a bit of money was thrown back in his face when Desmond began to constrict his life and his “want” to leave was obvious after a while. I enjoyed when things became awkward as Desmond began to treat Joe more and more like her boyfriend. Things really took a turn when she threw the party for just the two of them. Desmond displayed the role of manipulative woman perfectly when Joe left but was forced to return after her attempt at suicide. After that, Desmond basically had Joe and the closer she kept him with her, the further he felt from her. In the film, as Desmond spent time with Joe, she seemed to act more youthful and full of life while Joe seemed to sound more older and depressed.

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  25. Chroma ⋅

    I wasn’t as interested in this film as I thought I’d be. 
    Even still, this is a timeless, classic Film Noir that has its admirable charms – also well-reviewed by critics and audiences; I have to at least respect “Sunset Boulevard” for its cinematic quality and tribute to the forgotten stars of old Hollywood.
    The character of Norma Desmond, still living in the eccentric delusion of what she was in the past, was quite entertaining alone; with the downward spiral she was on, you could really feel in the pit of your stomach that it was only a matter of time before she seriously snapped. Joe really never stood a chance, being in Norma’s web from early-on. 

    Like

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