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2016 – SCREENING #4: SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950) – 110 MIN.

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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 fond of this motion picture, Sunset Boulevard 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 silent era: Comedian/actor Buster Keaton, director Cecil B. DeMille, actress Anna Q. Nielsen and British 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

Just as an interesting coincidence, today one of the famous mansions of the grand old Hollywood glory was offered to be sold. Director Billy Wilder is also being quoted in the article: http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/hot-property/la-fi-hotprop-gary-wilson-holmby-hills-79-million-20161004-snap-story.html

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92 responses to “2016 – SCREENING #4: SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950) – 110 MIN.

  1. So far I have enjoyed the first half of Sunset Boulevard. Usually “old” humor in movies does not really tickle my funny bone, but this however seems to have more modern or relatable. The narration and story telling aspect is a nice choice to move the story along and also provide comedy at the same time. This theme of washed out stars, is defiantly a reality, and I can only imagine how many silent error film stars were out of jobs due to the advancement of technology, such as better audio and quality. One can look at the transition of black and white productions to color. Even home entertainment systems of box televisions and VCRs have changed to flat screens and blu-ray disc players. Soon enough everything will be replaced to online programming.
    The plot is not too complicated so far, as the old washed out actress lusts over the young writer. I felt that the start of the film, showing the character dead in the pool, and then going back in time to show the prior events, is an interesting way to tell the story. Many films seem to follow this model, especially suspense or thrillers, where the ending is told first, and then the viewer can see the chain reaction of events that lead to the point. I also enjoyed the fact that the plot was not trying to fit too much into the introduction. One simple thing, such as being late for car payments lead to him having to leave his whole life, stranded in a mysterious house. I am interested to see how the film ends, as there must be a lot of suspicious activity for him to end up in a pool dead.

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    • GreenBanana ⋅

      I agree with your point that this film seems to be a bit more “modern” and “relatable” compared to other films of its time. Some older films tend to feel a little dry or lackluster but “Sunset Boulevard” has an interesting plot and way of presenting the story. I also feel that revealing the ending in the introduction of the movie creates suspense, and it keeps the viewer interested in what will happen next. I also see that a lot of suspense and horror movies use the same technique in the film’s opening sequence, but I personally think it is quite effective in due to the reason that they can take the film in any direction from that point on. Not letting the viewer in on explicit details of the plot makes the film more appealing. Sunset Boulevard’s narration and story telling, I agree, aids the movement of the movie and prevents the movie from being too “film noir”. The light comedic moments are what make this film really good.
      In relation to your opinion on the rapid evolution of technology, home entertainment systems and themes presented in Sunset Boulevard, I believe that Hollywood is very closely tied to modern and popular trends in technology, fashion and beauty standards which leads to the washing out of some Hollywood stars. I agree that as technology evolves, entertainment will evolve as well which will result in the declination of popularity of certain themes, entertainment platforms and performance styles. Sunset Boulevard is well produced film of its’ time and I feel it represents the worries of those left behind as Hollywood evolved. I personally think many celebrities nowadays will do anything to stay in popular even if it is dangerous, illegal, potentially reputation ruining, or just plain crazy. This movie shows just how far people will go for fame.

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  2. IsThePartyOver ⋅

    I have enjoyed Sunset Blvd so far. It almost feels like a film noir because of one, its protagonist-narrator who adds extra layers of information and meaning to what meets our eyes and two, this detached, “godly” observer that comes through the narration. Over reliance in narration at least today is a tremendous no-no in screenwriting; “to show more and talk less” is a mantra that echoes in every film school out there it would seem. That being said, the narration in Sunset Blvd is justifiable and has its place. For one, this is a story about a writer, and the narration offers the audience a glimpse into the way a writer might perceive his surroundings and life events differently than a non-writer. At times my impression is as if we’re listening to an audio-book. On top of that, whenever the voiceover comes up, the diegetic sound from the actions on screen are lowered therefore giving me the impression of watching a silent film with commentary instead of a sound one. This is very interesting when we consider that the silent film era, or rather the demise of the silent film era is one of the films’ subject matters. So I say well played. More can be said about the meta-physical, self-critical nature of this film but I’ll perhaps leave that to another entry. As a final note, I would like to give praise to that one shot in the scene where the man and the silent actress sit down to watch her old films. I just loved how the light from the projector suddenly reveals the smoke from the man’s cigarette in that darkened room. Very film noir-like.

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    • shmoo ⋅

      I agree with your comments about the narration of the writer. Without it, I feel like his character would be far less pronounced than it is. Joe is very bland in Comparrison to Norma, but that is because he is from a different era where expression comes from voice and thought rather than bodily actions and facial motions. It shows a great contrast between the two, as it shows that neither is perfect in it’s expression. Joe would of been a horrible character if he were in a silent film, while Norma would be too over the top if she was in a sound oriented film (as we see with her drole and exaggerated dialogue) I feel like the two make a good couple (non romantically…) to speak on greater issues in the film industry, such as the mental problems some actors procure after years under the spotlight, as well as the cut throat, money oriented industry that has strayed from art for a profit.

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      • uruwa ⋅

        I really like the comparison you pointed out in this reply between Norma and Joe. It would make sense that she over-exaggerates everything, because that’s all she knows. It was mentioned that she started acting as a teenager, so of course she would want to continue living in that time period. Joe, however, understands how the world works in current times, and therefore is a bit more reserved and almost bland. He’s been down on his luck, and carries that with him, whereas Norma- for a long time- has known nothing other than wealth for decades.

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  3. jonsnow ⋅

    So far, I have found Sunset Boulevard really interesting. It’s a movie I’ve heard a lot about but never bothered to sit down and watch, and it’s also a street that I’ve driven down many times but never related back to this movie! One of the first things that struck me was the opening scene, where Joe Gillis’s body is floating dead in the pool. It’s a scene that I’ve seen emulated and parodied many times, most recently in the latest season of the animated series “Archer.” The opening scene of the first episode is a direct reference to Sunset Boulevard, which I did not know at the time when I first watched it, so seeing the original scene when watching the movie in class caught my attention right away and drew me in to the movie. I’m also a sucker for movies with nonlinear narratives, because it leaves you with this insatiable curiosity to see how the plot plays out into the ending that has already been previewed to you. I also really like film noirs. The thing I love about film noir movies is the unpredictability of the characters. The character of Norma Desmond is captivating, because you really don’t know how far her disillusionment is going to go. Her obsessive nature and manipulation of Joe Gillis is fascinating, especially since in the last scene that we watched, Joe Gillis has succumbed to her advances, albeit through the use of pity and concern. I am very excited to see where the story takes these two characters.

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  4. clintrump ⋅

    The first half of Sunset Boulevard viewed in class has been entertaining, but also disturbing on a few levels. The fact that the film begins with the murder of the main character who is a screen writer for Hollywood there is already a pretext that the film follows giving me the sense of danger to come. The main character Joe Gills has no luck writing film scripts in Hollywood leading up to losing his agent, and having financial troubles. Joe ends up at an old 1920’s style mansion where he is greeted in by an old silent film actress Norma who is mentally disturbed, socially isolated , and still delusionally self obsessed with her image and dead career. When Joe accidentally drives his car into Norma’s rundown mansion his life takes a strange turn for the worse where he joins Norma, and her butler Max in an insane and Isolated world. Norma Keeps Joe at her arms reach by promising to pay him the money he needs in return for some script editing so she can return to the movie scene in Hollywood.

    I didn’t like the first half of the movie because it was all based out of Norma trying to control Joe through financial bondage, and leverage. He desperately needed the money to survive while she was just in search of selfish recognition that she didn’t necessarily deserve. I also found it rather odd that the butler Max was so subservient to all of Norma’s needs and his own personal human needs seemed to be ignored in the first half of the movie. The party thrown just for Joe, and Norma also seemed rather bazar, and the whole time I was wondering how Joe could somehow manage to escape. After he escapes and then again returns to the mansion because of Norma’s attempted suicide turned into her insisting she loved him I felt gross and repulsed. It will be interesting to see what will unfold in the later half of the film, but I somehow think that Norma will command Max to drown Joe in the pool.

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  5. White Rabbit ⋅

    I really enjoy how the film is initially propelled. The idea of giving your audience a glimpse of what is to come leaves us in suspense of how the chain of events in the film will lead to this climax. The narrative voice also adds an element to the film that guides us as an audience, leaving us without guessing Joe’s thoughts. The movie’s genre is almost suspenseful, almost like a mystery. Of course the old woman is rather crazy, which contributes to this form of genre. I suspected the butler may be responsible for his Joe’s death, as he’s so quiet, but who knows. And of course, the film’s last scene leaves us baffled. What middle-aged man would kiss that woman? I’m not judging, I supposed it’s to each his own, but it certainly took my appetite away… She’s like a black widow. She’s trapped her pray, stripping him from his lodging, allowing his car to be repossessed, she’s moved him into her home, and pays for everything. I won’t be surprised if she ends up murdering him over jealousy or something of the sorts. She’s also very self-absorbed, with pictures of herself everywhere. This element contributes to the psychopathic nature of her character.

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  6. conan ⋅

    I have enjoyed Sunset Boulevard so far. I thought that the woman who played Norma was perfect for the role. I thought she looked like one of the woman villains in Disney movies. In the last class, we have watched the scene where Joe came back to the mansion for Norma. I liked that part because I could see Joe’s had a change of heart. To me, he seemed he was struggling with the fact that he wants to help Norma, but he shouldn’t because it gets more complicated if they continue the relationship. But he has fallen for Norma’s trap. I’m excited to see how that weird relationship goes in the rest of film. I’m also curious about the Norma’s relationship with Max. He is my personal favorite. He is quiet, mysterious yet dignified. I think there is something in his past that made him Norma’s butler. I’m expecting something to be revealed about him in the rest of film. I think this film is well-balanced with important elements for movie such as love, heartbreak, thrills and mystery. I am very interested to see what happens in the story until Joe dies floating in a pool.

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  7. shmoo ⋅

    The beginning of this film was a major cliche (being one of the original cliches of it’s time.) But as we watched on Sunset Boulevard really grew on me as a film. The main character Joe has a classically handsome face, and reminds me visually of many other stars from the time. The fact that this film is from 1950 really impressed me in terms of humor. Gloria Swansons Norma is hilarious, even by today’s humor standards. She plays a classic Madonna, with just a little bit of crazy mixed in. Norma talks about the silent pictures and how faces were what really mattered, and she shows this in her actions. Every dramatic speech is followed by an equally dramatic gaze, usually with her nose pointed up. Her makeup is always very thick, such as they did with silent films to exaggerate the features. This does exactly that, and I find that an already extraordinary preformance becomes even better with those eyes. With Joe on the other hand, I find him rather meek and timid. He is constantly hiding or running away from something, and although he tries to act tough in his inner monologues, talking about deceiving Norma, it is he who is under her finger. To think that he becomes a more dominant hero in other films surprises me. He really just does whatever Norma says, and even when he tries to rebel he ends up running back to her. I was expecting the kiss from the beginning because I could see how the pair interacted, and how Norma was acting as Joe’s sugar mama. All the gifts and money, of course eventually Norma will want something more. I wonder though if real feelings will develope. I am excited to see how the story progresses.

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  8. RM ⋅

    We have only seen the first half of the film yet, so I will refrain from making any final judgments on the film. That said the film has so far given me a very favorable impression. In this film the narration seems to be key, it is almost omnipresent, and serves as the main characters internal monologe. The way it is written is interesting, the main characters thoughts sound like an old hardboiled detective novel. It reminds me of that style of first person narration. So much so that for a good while I expected this Film to turn into a mystery story. The ways in which this internal thought interacts with what we the audience sees’s on screen is very interesting. There are several points in the film in which the movie shows us a place, and we can see it visually, but the main characters monologue also describes it, giving us his internal opinion of what, the he and the audience are both seeing. In the main charcters first visit to the house, there is a scene in which we see the butler in profile as he says the word coffin. I;m not quite sure why but the way that shot was framed left quite and impression on me, letting us watch as he moved his lips and spoke out the word coffin, gave me a bit of a feeling of dread. Moving on, the set design is impressive. the decor of the mansion is luxurious but unsettling. On another point the female lead uses an interesting verbal tick that give the character more personality, she tends to draw out the ends of words, kind of hissing some of them. Speaking of the main actress, the scene in which she sits in a couch surrounded by pictures of herself is very well done. It really drives home the level of narcisicim at play. The revelation later on that she makes the main character watch films of herself with her does not come a much of a surprise to the viewer, but rather cements the feeling that she is self obsessed to a dangerous degree. I will save the rest of my thoughts for the next blog, as this has already gone on long enough.

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  9. Sierra94 ⋅

    Ah, the classic noir films. The characteristic “private eye narration” was a dead giveaway that the film was going to be of the mystery genre. The narration was also very helpful in emphasising how Joe Gillis is a seasoned writer. Maybe more as a novelist than a screenwriter, however.
    The in-media-res might not have been that good, in my opinion, as it shows the ultimate fate of Gillis before we even know him. Some people might be bothered by this, some others might not be. In my opinion, perhaps one of the best examples of the use of in-media-res might be the Canadian police drama series named “Flashpoint”. No showing of the ultimate fate of characters (with the exception of a few episodes), but also building hype with the occasional somewhat misleading editing.
    Back to the film, however, it is interesting to see a film that depicts a former silent film star, Norma Desmond, coping with her fall from the screen as sound made its way into film, which brought forth the studios’ perceived need to replace their famous actors/actresses when their voice was not quite what they were looking for or otherwise not suited to their vision. The abundance of photos really shows just how highly Norma thinks of herself even after her fall (the fake fanmail by her butler is likely fuelling this view of herself), along with spending ludicrous amounts of money like nobody’s business to show just how big of an actress she was back in her prime. Of course, it also shows how depressed she must be even with all that money and former glory with the various signs of her suicide attempts, including a failed attempt shown on screen.

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  10. Derp ⋅

    I’m going to write about the first half of film that we’ve watched.
    I actually watched this film in my previous university in the US, and I felt that it really portrays “Femme Fatale” well, who will throw the protagonist man’s life off the cliff. From the moment when they met, I felt her mysteriousness and potential danger. And her bizarre mental status–thinking she’s still a golden actress, attempting wrist cut, etc–really made me think that things are going to get twisted and ugly. And the way the film goes from showing the aftermath Femme Fatale brought (=the death of the writer) to what happened previously (=twisted relationship between the writer and femme fatale) succeeded to emphaize the impact the Femme Fatale brought on the story.

    But now I wonder: When did film start portraying “Femme Fatale”? Originally, I’ve been thinking that Femme Fatale started to appear on screen only after the genre “film noir” started. But in this class, I found out that such a character existed in the Silent Era as well, as we’ve seen in “Sunrise”, the first film we’ve watched. Maybe the difference between that and film noir is that femme fatale actually twists and corrupt the male character’s destiny, while “Sunrise” used Femme-Fatale-like female character only as a sort of antagonist that gets in the way of the protagonist’s moral decision–but in the end, the goodness inside of him wins. So I found it interesting that female character like Femme Fatale in film noir has become the major sub(or even main) character to drive the story into the pessimistic ending.

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  11. WOW! this film is amazing so far! Norma Desmond, although shes pretty selfish and manipulative, I felt very bad for (as it seems not) she is a old women who lost her juice for writing and gave up on her dream.

    As for Max, hes pretty careless in my eyes as he is pretty much looking at Norma as a sugar momma. its very confusing to see how he really feels towards Norma weather he is just simply using her for her money or actually sees a future with her and loves her.

    In the beginning of the film, Max stumbles upon Norma’s seen to be abandoned home (Broke) running away from being in debt with the loan sharks. And decides to trick her into staying at her house for some time until he gets back on her foot.

    Later in the film, he begins to get sick of her and wants to run away from her on New Years day. After he runs away and almost kisses the secretary, he calls the mansion where he later finds Norma had injured her self from cutting and runs up to kiss her telling her he would be there for her.

    After the final scene we saw during class, I dont really understand his intentions for Norma and his future.

    Looking forward to seeing how this all turns out in the end.

    Like

    • clintrump ⋅

      Response to superduper0214, I disagree in feeling any sorrow for Norma Desmond because all of her bad qualities were what was portrayed during the film leaving nothing to like in the end. I do agree that Max is careless, and I also don’t care for his character considering that he used to be married to Norma, and enables her psychotic behavior so he can live off her money in a parasitic relationship.

      As for (joe) who you referred to as Max I don’t think he was trying to trick Norma, but he was being used for his screen writing skills so she could selfishly launch her defunct Hollywood career. I think Joe tolerated Norma’s eccentric, and psychopathic behavior because he was working towards his personal goal of becoming a successful screenwriter. Even though Joe’s intentions were not completely altruistic I think that he was more respectable compared to Norma, and Max.

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    • Sorabari ⋅

      What I realize from the films that we have watched in the class is that women have more power than men in various ways. For this film, Norm is rich and can do whatever she wants to with her money. Max looks for her money so that he can spend good life, which means he needs her help. The relationship between them is obvious: Norm takes control of Max. I found it as interesting. If the situation of the relationship flips, I probably don’t feel about the relationship carefully because we’ve seen the relationship quite often in films.

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  12. theSiren_Song ⋅

    I enjoyed this movie. I really enjoyed this film. I hate horror films but i like this one! Haha!

    One question before I start my thoughts: was it a director’s choice for the film to be black and white or was it the only available thing at the time? Or just the whole Film Noir type? It was a bit of a shock to go from Jesse James with color and then switch back over to black and white.

    This film, the number one emotion I felt was uncomfortable. The whole situation between Joe and Norma made me uncomfortable. The whole relationship made me cringe. Norma herself made me wince and cringe the entire time she was doing this and that. I had so much second hand embarrassment from how she thought and how she behaved. The delusion she lived under, the way she manipulated those around her, the fact she turned her first husband into her butler; I am one of those who just had zero pity for her. Even in her suicidal moments (as someone who has struggled with suicidal thoughts and suicidal tendencies), I felt no pity or connection to her. It felt as if she was using that instability in her mind to manipulate people to stay with her, and that pisses me off. Suicide is a real problem, a real disease. Don’t cheapen a serious problem that people face every day for your own gain. I think that behavior actually ignited anger in me instead of discomfort. Before the director stated that she became a nightmare to work with, I could seriously guess it from one of the beginning scenes when she told Joe not to remove a scene of hers from the script. Such a narcissist thing to believe a single film is ALL about you.

    And Joe…. the fact he ALLOWED himself to get into this situation. I saw the death coming, but I don’t pity him for getting killed. He put himself into that position. He could have left much early on, he didn’t. He got himself hooked into that position. He allowed Norma to manipulate him into staying over and over and over. I was so proud of him for starting to sneak out to see Betty in order to pursue his dreams of writing again. But I had this fear of what would happen when Norma found out.

    Over all the storytelling was so great. I really enjoyed the story for once. I’m sure that the discomfort I felt watching the story unfold was clearly intentional. They wanted us to feel uncomfortable with the way Hollywood runs. This habit of theirs with throwing aside talented starlets when they’re past their prime or no longer talented enough for the advancement of the silver screen and the effect it has on them. Even with this initial discomfort, I was really caught into the story and enjoyed watching it.

    The plot twist of Max being Norma’s first husband was a total twist I did not see coming. I was wondering what the heck their relationship was, I was wondering how he got lured into serving a clearly unstable woman, why he devoted his life to a woman who was a neglected has-been. But it’s still not all explained. Why did he stay with her as a butler? How did he feel about Joe coming into her life? Why did he do everything she demanded – no matter how weird, how crazy? I feel that he did have some character development. In the end, to me, it felt he was no longer blindly in service to her. He knew what she did, he knew how mentally broken she was. And he manipulated her broken state to get her out of her room and out where the police officers could escort her to the police car. He allowed for Joe to come and go at night without saying a word to Norma. But in the end, his character seriously left me with some questions.

    All in all, I enjoyed the film very much. It was entertaining and really invoked some thoughts and questions in me.

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    • Sorabari ⋅

      I didn’t expect that the movie is a horror movie from the title. However, it often resembles a horror movie, infused with sick humor. Norma’s rotting, oversized estate plays host to bizarre events; she and Max hold an elaborate chimp funeral; she impersonates Chaplin in a grotesque vaudeville act; an orchestra plays to an empty party. Joe’s narration and John F. Seitz’s photography provide a noir feel, but Wilder’s puckish weirdness keeps viewers off-balance. William Holden went from pretty boy to heavyweight with his faultless performance. Slimy, desperate and charming, Holden was never better. Erich Von Stroheim’s grave, wounded dignity makes a flawless foil; certainly he understood an aged director gone to seed. Nancy Olson’s freshness offsets the desperate or deranged leads. Jack Webb, unusually likeable, plays Betty’s chummy fiancée. In the end, Norma finally gets her audience: peeping newsreels, gawking reporters, policemen waiting to arrest her. With Max directing she descends a staircase, Franz Waxman’s score swelling. Norma’s face locks into a snarling rictus, reaching into the camera like a monster.

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  13. IsThePartyOver ⋅

    Having now watched the entire film, I can say Sunset Blvd. was the most enjoyable film in class so far for a number of reasons.

    First, I like how the plot is set up to already reveal the ending at the beginning. As the story builds up and Norma spirals down into complete insanity, we the audience get increasingly more anxious and expectant about Joe’s ultimate fate. The way the filmmaker gradually hints at and unfolds all these bizarre things about Norma and the butler is really well done. The dead monkey buried like a child; the attempted suicide; the revelation that the butler was Norma’s first husband. All of these come together to make us uncomfortable and fear the directions the story might take. I don’t know exactly what it is called, but I remember that Hitchcock used to dissert about a similar technique in which you unveil something to the audience before the character on screen learns about it – in the case of Joe, his own death. I read some comments from the class and apparently some didn’t like that; I think it worked really well.

    Secondly, the already-dead protagonist-narrator really adds to the film. At one point I actually thought the voiceover might become annoying or rather too “cheesy”, but having thought about it, it expands Joe’s character and make him more likeable in a way. He is a scumbag to be sure, but I think his voice over allows us to get a fuller understanding of his personality and thought process.

    Thirdly, I have always enjoyed the film noir aesthetic and this film has some great lighting and low-key shots. It enhances this horror-ish drama playing out in front of us although I can say it doesn’t take itself overly serious; just enough to deliver its message.

    The message is the final reason why I really enjoyed this film. It can be divided in many sub-topics, but the most prominent idea it would seem is the pervasive nature of the seemingly magical Hollywood dream-factory. It uses and spits out people whenever they need, or do not. Whenever there is money in it or not. The film further shows how this industry could create these truly monster-stars out of actors, with grand, highly unrealistic ideas of themselves. To be fair, the audience/fan base as well as the media played a big role in that, nonetheless, it is really sad to see a victim of this system go completely out of her mind. How destructive they can become, how dangerous when producers decide they are no longer needed.

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  14. Armitage ⋅

    This is a really cool film about the Hollywood system. There is an intolerable silent film star and a sleazy protagonist who falls for a cute young lade just outside the spotlight. Our protagonist puts up with the diva’s shenanigans for the sake of his livelihood. But as he realizes his true love is the mousy and much less famous girl, he begins to question his choices. In the background the whole time is the transition old technology with new technology, as well as the more subtle aspect of an older woman being replaced by younger ones. But enough about Singin’ in the Rain.

    I really love films that are overtly about Hollywood. And this one had that in spades. The scenes when they are walking through the studio sets and how it looks real but even the characters know it’s all an illusion. There are even scenes that take place in the Hollywood hills that look identical to how it looks today. For example the streets with palm trees lining them. I also love seeing the process of making the Hollywood movies and how the big producer people talk.

    Also this one had really cool effects. Someone in class mentioned shooting through the water to show the guy from below. There was also a scene where they were in the car, and the camera was outside the driver’s seating angled back to capture the passengers as well. This shot probably was just on a green screen and didn’t take too much ingenuity to accomplish, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen that particular angle in another film before.

    The third thing that I really enjoyed about the film was how much of a Noir film it was. Though it didn’t incorporate the story tropes as a typical Noir film, it had many stylistic similarities. Particularly entertaining was the voice over narration. The protagonist narrated almost every action in such a perfect hard-boiled way that no one in reality talks like but everyone wished they did. Also as someone said in class the lighting in this movie, or rather use of not-lighting, was very cool. The scene where the butler reveals he is the ladies first husband, had such a cool feel because the scene was so dark but his face was so clear. Also the scene when they were walking down the fake street, had a great atmosphere. One thing in that scene I noticed and thought was great attention to detail, guy threw something and you don’t see it land because it went over the back wall of the set.

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  15. White Rabbit ⋅

    Well, it was certainly an interesting movie. It was certainly polished for its time, which a logical plot, smooth transitions, and great angles. The lighting was great, and the final scene was very epic, with her exiting on a final cut, almost mocking Hollywood.

    Although very logical and coherent, it was almost unbelievable that a woman her age who’s probably never fired a weapon, was capable of firing the gun and hitting her target 3 times. And then, there was the butler… I know the butler was suspicious, but I never guessed he was her ex-husband. That was a great twist, and I wish they would have played on his role a little more in the plot.

    It was also interesting to see key motivators influencing Joe, determining which life he has chosen: a life of wealth, or a life of happiness. As much as our society tells us that wealth brings happiness, it’s really a fantasy. The film depicts this reality very clearly, as film chooses the old miserable woman for her wealth, over the young charming beauty that he loves. As to our own life, we can relate on some level the choices that he makes, and can reflect on the outcome of those choices, in this instance, his death.

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    • clintrump ⋅

      Response to White Rabbit, I agree that it does seem a little unrealistic how Norma was such a good shot when she killed Joe. Three shots directly hitting Joe in his upper chest is very accurate and, perhaps if a few shots missed it would become more realistic. I also liked the final cut how Norma was so out of her mind as a psycho path that she thought that she was famous again even though the press were there taking pictures to document her arrest.

      I agree that the story of Joe having to decide weather to chose a life of wealth, or a life of happiness. I also felt like I could relate to this human predicament somehow, and I think that society does reinforce how generating massive amounts of wealth will make us happy even though often times it is an illusion. I think Joe realized in the end that he didn’t want the wealth that Norma was offering him, or the possibility of happiness that Betty was offering him and he just wanted to return to a normal life in Ohio.

      Like

      • theSiren_Song ⋅

        Well, if you think about it, she did hit fame again. A forgotten starlet who couldn’t make the transition over to sound film and went crazy, killing a man. That’s a selling headline and for once, the public remembered that she existed again. She did once again gain the fame she so longed for, just not in the way she expected.

        She was forgotten by her studio, she was forgotten by her fans, she was forgotten by the public, she was left to her own devices to waste the rest of her life away in a rotting mansion that was falling apart around her. And in the last moments of sanity, she found ‘love’ again. And that ‘love’ decided to leave and abandon her, just like the rest of the world did and that broke the remaining sanity she had. I agree, it was weird that she accurately got three shots in his chest, but hey, its Hollywood. Her sanity broke and she gained fame again. Kind of sad to think about.

        Like

    • Sorabari ⋅

      I like your comments. We sometimes question what the definition of happiness. The movie seems that having money doesn’t bring us happiness. Both Norm and Joe look for money but end up being killed or going crazy. I also sometimes wonder that, and money might bring me happiness. I assume that having too much or too less money brings me disaster. The key is the balance. Charlie Chaplin says, “Life can be wonderful if you’re not afraid of it. All it takes is courage, imagination… and a little dough.” Money is defined neither good nor bad by itself, but the way people use defines either one. I could learn it from the film as well.

      Like

  16. clintrump ⋅

    The second half of Sunset Boulevard was very interesting in the various twists, and turns the story had made in comparison to the first half of the film. It was rather shocking to discover that butler Max was at one time married to Norma, after Joe had confronted him and to stop telling her lies about her career that weren’t true. It seemed like Max had developed some sort of a strange parasitic relationship with Norma as her butler hiding her from the real truth that her career in Hollywood was completely over.

    I also found it interesting that when Norma went to Paramount studios to talk an old film director friend into shooting a new film about herself. Everyone in the business was so shocked and surprised to see her. It seemed like her ego got to big which is common in Hollywood, and the director that she was trying to convince was sick and tired of dealing with her. The fact that Max knew the whole time that Paramount just wanted to shoot Norma’s old car, and not her keeping the truth a secret just enabled her rather eccentric behavior in my opinion.

    The level of psychopathic behavior that Norma expressed in the end of the film was Amazing to say the least. When Joe snuck off at night to write a new script with Betty I was hoping that he would leave the crazy control of Norma and settle down with a character that was actually somewhat likeable. When Norma calls Betty out of Jealousy, and Betty arrives it was somewhat of a freak show when Joe was giving her a tour of the mansion. Even though Betty wanted Joe after his admission to the crazy living arrangement he had living in Norma’s mansion I understood that Joe just wanted to move back to Ohio fed up with the crazy antics of the Hollywood life style.

    In the end I wasn’t surprised that Joe was murdered, but I was surprised that Norma was the one who killed him. I thought for sure that Max would attempt to murder Joe out of jealousy in a strange love triangle. Even in the end of the film Norma is still wildly delusional of her self-image as she is being arrested despite the fact that she had just murdered Joe. Norma was a true psycho, and I think the film director did a good job of portraying that character.

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  17. Vera Lynn ⋅

    I really enjoyed Sunset Boulevard. As someone brought up in class, there is a season of Archer that follows this story pretty closely. There are countless other movies and TV shows that either parody, or pay homage to the opening scene in Sunset. I knew about this movie, but I had never seen it, so it was really nice to finally sit down and watch the source material for so many other things.

    One thing I didn’t know going into this movie is that this was where the “I’m ready for my close up Mr. Devil” line came from. After seeing it in its true context, it really seems like people misuse this line. I think usually when you see this line being used in movies, it’s spoken by an actress who is trying to project actual glamor, where in realty, when Norma says the line in the move, she is totally crazy by this point.

    Another thing I really enjoyed was something that was brought up a bit in class, and that is the characters. Pretty much all the major players are a pretty infuriating bunch, and some are downright unlikeable. However, I never found myself getting tired of her. As some people said, she is hard to feel any empathy for. She takes everything around her for granted. She is lazy. She looks down on pretty much everyone around her. Yet, she is so ridiculous that I found myself always wanting to see what kind of crazy thing she would do or say next.

    Norma was just one aspect of the type of characters you find in the movie making business, and I feel like this movie did a great job of showing most, if not all of the kinds of characters you will find. Of course you have Norma, the crazy has been who thinks she is still a star. You also have the jaded writer who is churning out the same old garbage. And you have the young go getter who thinks they are going to take the city by storm. And then you have the director who is doing the actual production stuff.

    When all is said and done, I just really loved this movie. As hate-able as some of the cast is, all the characters are charming in their own way. The story is really fun an interesting, and even though you know how it will end, you still want to go for the ride.

    Like

    • pizzaboy ⋅

      I’m happy to finally have seen this movie. It’s listed in almost every single “100 Greatest Movie” list I have ever seen and I’ve been meaning to watch it for a long time. The vibe was very reminiscent for me me of a lot of old TV shows that I have watched…namely The Twilight Zone and old school The Outer Limits. It was interesting to see where this particular vibe came from, as I’m sure they were intended to mimic the feel from this film.

      I also enjoyed the good amount of character development in this film, I’d put it right up alongside Citizen Kane in quality and depth. A case study of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

      I felt that the leading lady had a tendency to overact though, particularly toward the end where she was opening her eyes wide in order to portray a mental collapse. Interesting when the object of your demise is your own ego and the inability to overcome it.

      I also enjoyed how the structure of the film was a precursor to movies like American Beauty…where the ending was announced at the beginning and the movie followed the course until the end when the actually structure of the demise was portrayed.

      Overall I would say it was a good film and deserving of the accolades its received over the years.

      Like

      • clintrump ⋅

        Response to Pizza Boy, I also felt that Norma Desmond’s character was a little over exaggerated with the acting. I think her actions leading up to the end were realistic in portraying a psychopathic narcissistic personality but the widening of her eyes when she was having a mental breakdown did not seem realistic. I would agree that it was a good film, but Norma Desmond was such a detestable personality, making me never to want to view this film again.

        Like

    • karltuj

      The correct line is: “I’m ready for my close up Mr. DeMille.” (DeMille is the old film director’s [real] name: Cecil B. DeMille)

      Like

    • Sorabari ⋅

      I assume the reason why she is seen as lazy or looking down comes from her behavior. However, she can do that because she has struggled to become rich, which means she is a successor. Of course, she probably needs to be nicer if she wants to be likeable. Becoming rich kills her kindness or common sense, I think. It happens to real life as well. We see so many celebrities go through scandals. They may think that they can do anything with money, but at the same time, they may lose how to treat or communicate with people nicely. Money weakens the right choice. We can see it in the film when Joe shows off what he has gained to her, but she denies his offer because she gets disappointed at him.

      Like

    • RM ⋅

      In response to Clintrump

      I can understand why you find norma a detestable character, However I do not think you should swear off seeing the film again. Norma is without a doubt as you said a “psychopathic Nassicist”
      That said she is also a tragic figure. She has suffered a fall from grace, she was raised and grew up getting all the attention she ever wanted, and now in her old age is a spinster living alone, obssesed with her past glories. In some ways she reminds me of what becomes of child stars these days. There are many famous and well known examples of child actors who were raised in the industry becoming psychotic, or depressed. Becoming self destructive and going off the rails. Look at for instance, amanda bines, or lindsy lohan, or other famous child actors who later in life could not seem to cope. We don’t know everything that happened to Norma and so it is important I think to view her with some sympathy, she is to me, above all a pitiful women, rather than monster. She is tragic, and this is a tragedy more than anything. You give the film too little credit. Its characters have more depth I think than is immediately obvious. This is one of the largest ways in which the movie sometimes feels like a classic horror film like frankenstein. The monster is not really a monster and if it is, it is sympathetic and tragic, and the real monster is those who created it, but then reject it.

      Like

  18. Sorabari ⋅

    Sunset Boulevard explores the human wreckage of the Hollywood dream, and uncovers grand tragedy where yesterday’s fantasies crumble into today’s harsh reality.
    A sordid tale of lost souls seeking elusive greatness, Sunset Boulevard shines in its bleakness. At Norma Desmond’s dark mansion, success lives in the past, in her warped mind, and in the greedy eyes of a desperate Joe Gillis, eager to grasp any opportunity to finally make money in Hollywood. Fuelled by non-existent fan adoration fanned by Max’s conniving, Norma lives in her own mirage of a world, where glory still awaits, great directors want to work with her, and her star will shine again. And as long as the money is good and the wardrobe is snazzy, Joe could care less. Norma’s dream world is his real ticket into the Hollywood bright lights.
    Director Billy Wilder, who also co-wrote the script, creates an intriguing alternate reality in Norma’s cluttered mansion, the house as much a star of the film as Holden and Swanson. The mansion surrounds Norma with hundreds of pictures of herself; the living room screen projects Norma’s own movies from the silent era; and Norma puts on private acting shows to entertain Joe and prove her enduring talent. In Norma’s mansion, Norma still dominates the movie world, and under the watchful eyes of the ever-loyal Max, nothing in her reality suggests that she has long since been left on the scrap heap of silent movie history.
    The wholesome, optimistic Betty represents the functioning, contemporary Hollywood, and she tugs at Joe to come back to the real world. He tries to have it both ways, benefiting from Norma’s largesse while working on an actual script and starting a relationship with Betty. But Norma exists in Norma’s world only and therefore so must Joe. His duplicity cannot last, nor can it go unpunished.
    Sunset Boulevard is where dreams go to die. Joe Gillis arrived there almost sure that his dream was already dead. Norma Desmond’s dreams are also over, but she will never know it. No matter. Before the end of her dream, she will demand, and get, one final starring role.

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  19. Eddie ⋅

    I foiund the film to be not just an interesting story but the lighting was amazing, perfectly dramatic. The tale was twisted from the beginning and I enjoyed how they laid the plot down from the start with the struggling writer up to his neck in debt just trying to get away realizing he’s washed out and desperate. The plot thickens when he meets Ms. Desmond and it seems his luck has turned around until he finds out that he’s just a fly stuck in the web of the crazed has been Norma desmond. I felt like I could see it coming from the beginning the downwards spiral as desmond began to restrict his movements and take his freedom away from neglecting to keep her end of the contract and holding him prisoner the whole time. I think the thing that I found the creepiest is the fact that the loyal butler who we eventually find out was once her husband still sticks arund to do her bidding like a loyal dog. Willing to sacrifice everything for money the main character continues to allow himself to live in the delusion that he was in the best possible situation but I have to say the woman began to get creepier and scarier each time with all of her strange behavior and vanity starting to get progressively worse the more she began to obsess about nick.

    I realized about half way through the movie that it was nick floating in the pool narrating his own tragic tale which made me think of the twilight zone. Stuck somewhere on the fringes of reality is exactly where I would place his situation. Yet even still the ending was a little cliché, crazy lover kills out of passion and obsession and doesn’t understand the gravity of her situation. The actress was amazing however as she went out to play her final role in front of all of the cameras as the police came to take her away. It was sad and beautiful at the same time because as loyal as ever Max was there to help her through the situation and play into her fantasy. The sad fact was that she was loved by one person more than anyone ever could imagine and was so lost in delusion that she couldn’t see it, only max, the sad lonely husk of a man clinging on to the one true love of his life even if it were in the capacity of a servant. Only to be abandoned yet again as she surely is destined for some insane asylum where there will be neither adoring audiences or a camera for the duration of her stay which is surely infinite.

    Like

  20. Pedro Rodrigues ⋅

    Surely, this film exceeded my expectations. When I heard this movie was a kind of thriller, I was expecting something like Halloween or other classics horror movies. Although, after searching a little bit more about it before the screening, I discovered that it was nothing like I thought previously. At first, I was kinda of frustrated, but I tried to watch it with an open mind and I got very surprised at the end. The film Sunset Boulevard presents a lot of interesting elements, firstly, by adding a narrator in the first person, in which is characterized by the protagonist narrating his own story, even his own death. Also, another important detail is how well the director and the screen player describe the characters’ personalities, especially the narcissistic actress Norma Desmond. The many pictures of herself in her house shows how narcissistic and selfish she is. In addition, the screening also uses the element of intertextuality to talk about ‘Hollywood inside Hollywood’, or a Hollywood film describing the film industry background. It was a very good idea of the Paramount Studios, which contextualized the beginning of the sound cinema and how it made hard for silent film actors to survive with the new changes in the industry. Besides, the film being screened inside the Paramount Studios was a great strategy to save money by not renting or building a different scenario. Therefore, this film has many surprising elements that hold the attention of the audience until the end.

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    • uruwa ⋅

      I agree with this. It was an interesting strategy of Paramount Studios to use this film in the ways it did. It explained what happened to the silent film stars that may have disappeared from the public eye in the 1920s and 1930s when sound was added to movies.
      I also think it was pretty smart to use set-ups they already had within the studio for filming, such as the movie they were filming at the same time as Sunset Boulevard. Using that not only cut down on cost, but is also a kind of cool “Easter Egg” for film buffs.

      Like

    • conan ⋅

      I agree with your statement that it was hard for silent film actors to survive with the new changes in the industry. Norma’s memory is stuck at the moment when she was still famous. And as sound cinema develops, actors go through hard times because they don’t know what to do. I believe this film is not fiction but I feel like this could have been nonfiction because it is really realistic. I especially liked Norma’s line “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.” I think this phrase represents her personality. It was interesting to see behind the scenes of Hollywood.

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  21. After finishing Sunset Boulevard and putting together all the components, such as plot, characters, filming, lighting, and sound, I was pleasantly surprised on how much I enjoyed the film. These are one of those cases where I forgot that I was watching a black and white film, as I was captivated by the overall production. I thought that using black and white brought a certain mysterious feel to it, as well as the lighting used. Although it seemed more comical than anything, there were still some strong themes that can found in other films, and even relatable to normal life. The theme between fame and fortune as opposed to happiness is a repeating theme that can be illustrated in many stories. Often the message is that money and material items can not equate to ones happiness of being free of all restraints. This movie did a good job of presenting this message without being too serious, by maintaining an easy and comical plot to follow. I felt that each character played a great part, as the actors and actresses were great casting choices. I always enjoy seeing movies that are based on old Hollywood, as you can see the progress and advancements in modern time compared to the fifties and sixties. Overall I thought that this movie was a good change of pace after learning about the Western genre of movies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pedro Rodrigues ⋅

      I agree with your statement, especially when you discuss about the message. I also think that the perfect example of that concept is Norma Desmond, who lived her whole life only for money and prestige. But after all, she didn’t have anyone to share her happiness with; well, at least it wasn’t like that with none of her three other husbands. Then, the lack of prestige years later made her feel more alone than never, caused by the end of silent movie era and difficulties of adaptation to the sound. Therefore, she ended up crazy trying to become that star again, and it didn’t matter the cost.

      Like

  22. itsthesky20 ⋅

    What can I say about this film? I think Sunset Boulevard is a very interesting film. When we were watching the first part of the film in class, I sort of did not know what to expect.Yes It was a black and white film. In terms of character, we have a rich suicidal “superstar” who fancies our protagonist narrator/ unsuccessful screenwriter who has feelings for another woman, who also happened to be the dead guy floating in the water in the very beginning of the story. So I was already interested in the first part of the screening but I was also very curious of what would happened next. Then as we continued watching the rest of the film my curiosity was definitely answered. How each and everybody’s character unfold, the story became even more interesting. It actually became haunting. There were so many weird twists that happened in the story that almost made me cringe and made me feel uncomfortable. Like, when it was revealed that Norma’s Butler was her former husband or another example would be when Norma would have an episode attempting to slit her wrist. Although they were a lot of eerie scenes here and there, I still enjoyed it. Because I think if it were not for those moments then the film would’ve been so meaningless or dead. I think that Sunset Boulevard is a great example of a film noir. The film definitely embodies the definition of horror and mystery. Not the Halloween predictable horror kind of film but the psychologically haunting kind of mystery film.

    I also enjoyed watching and observing the technical side of this film. How the film begins at the end of the story (Reverse chronology technique?) I thought that was a brilliant way to engage your audience to the story. I also really like when they put a glass underwater to show the floating dead man scene from an angle below, sort of like a worms eye view. I thought that scene was very artistic considering that they did not have the advancement in technology that we have today.

    After watching the whole film. So many thoughts were also wondering in my head. Like I wonder how Gloria Swanson well being after filming. Like was she alright psychologically after internalizing such character. I know it was not that intense but I just wonder. I also wonder how the the film would look like if it was colored. Like how who Norma’s mansion would actually look like just thoughts like that.

    However overall, I really enjoyed the film.

    Like

  23. ihatenickelback ⋅

    I really enjoyed this film. I love all the classic elements that have come to be so well known – the classic mysterious film noir narration, the dramatizations and the glamour. It was very fun to watch. At the same time, I felt myself involved in the story and eager to see how it would unfold. Although in the beginning as these films usually do the ultimate death of one of the protagonists was revealed, I still felt unprepared for the ending, and found myself engulfed in the development rather than the result.

    I also enjoyed this film for reasons having more to do with the visual aesthetics. All the old cars, the fashion, the glamour shots showcasing hair and makeup. Even more so the behind-the-scenes view of old Hollywood and the making of films. The film was very easy on the eyes.

    I, too, find myself debating over whether Norma was a character I feel sorry for. I have a tendency to feel sympathy for female characters who have been repeatedly wronged, regardless of their current crazed state and actions. So, perhaps it’s just my personal bias that leads me to feel sorry for her and feel that, although not justified by the law in any way, her actions and feelings are validated in some way. I also like eccentric women so I didn’t really find myself repeatedly thinking about how crazy or weird she was. I kind of just laughed off her behavior and dramatic gestures and thought it was charming in a slightly off way. Of course, everyone’s taste varies when it comes to personalities. And just for a thought, if Joe had never discovered Norma’s house and gotten involved with her, would she have ever caused anyone harm? Didn’t he have some personal part in causing her to become so harmful that she deserved to imprisoned? Perhaps if women were treated with more care and less like they’re crazy ticking time bombs of emotion there would be a different result. Of course, we also have to take into consideration the thoughts surrounding psychology at the time. How were therapists or shrinks considered? Was it taboo to have emotions and feelings and imbalanced chemistry which needed to be tended to?

    I’m still working on these thoughts and trying to make sense of them.

    I also noticed that the film didn’t seem to try very hard to make the viewer lean towards a certain personal opinion of the characters. It seemed to be up to one’s own choice how to judge them.

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    • IsThePartyOver ⋅

      I agree and disagree with your thoughts on Norma when it comes to Joe’s influence on the path she led after meeting him. Like I said in my original post, Joe is a scumbag to be sure. Did he use her to attain the life and things money can provide? Definitely. That being said, I find it really unfair to blame him. Norma’s decadence and grand delusions are mainly a result of the circumstances, of the Hollywood dream machine. But back to Joe, understand that he couldn’t possibly have foreseen a psychotic lover like Norma falling for him. Couldn’t he just break loose from her? Yes, if he was a cold bastard. She threatens to suicide or hurt herself whenever he would try to cut ties, she plays her cards very well I would say. Consciously or unconsciously. Had Joe not any humanity, he would have just abandoned her from the start. Finally when he does try to at the end, she kills him. He was trapped, really.

      I still feel sad for her, because I see her more of a victim than anything else. But to blame Joe is kind of odd.

      Like

  24. postnroast ⋅

    The film sunset Blvd is one of my favorite viewing we’ve had in class yet. I really enjoyed the theatrics of the characters. The actors seemed to overdramatize a lot for scenes that take place in a house they really seemed to milk it. I was deep into the story and couldn’t help but wonder how the protagonist ended up dead in the pool. This American film takes a washed out old star from the film era of silent films and places them in current reality. Showing how fame can make one delusional and even overpowering the need for riches. The Frankenstein resemblance is uncanning. The star that was once drowning in fame has receded to her cave of a mansion. Due to the innovation of sound she is no longer right for current film and is further delusionalized by the protagonist when he finds this diamond in the rust. At times you feel that Frankenstein is human and she knows a pain that cannot be treated, therefore you gain pity for the character. Once she loses her will to understand she is outdated due to the death of the protagonist, she loses all control of rationality and once again becomes Frankenstein. Instead of pitchforks and fire she is awarded with the publicity and cameras her delusions fed on and gets to taste glory one last time as the protagonist falsely promised in return for his personal gain; the irony.

    Like

    • uruwa ⋅

      This comparison to Frankenstein is pretty amazing, and I agree completely. The public turns on her, and the cameras replacing pitchforks analogy is perfect.
      I would be curious to see if Norma every regained her sanity or not. I would guess not. She most likely remained a “monster” throughout the rest of her life, though in reality, it’s Hollywood and the public that made her that way.

      Like

    • Vera Lynn ⋅

      I agree. Sunset has been my favorite viewing in class by leaps and bound. The funny thing for me was that while I had never seen the whole movie, I knew how Joe ends up dead, but I was so into the story and the over the top characters, that I totally forgot about knowing the ending. I was totally in it for the ride, and I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. The Fankenstein idea is an interesting way of looking at the movie. I may have to go back and re-watch both movies now.

      Like

  25. KillDozer ⋅

    Sunset Blvd. was a wonderful display of two people on the short end of the Hollywood stick for completely different reasons and it provides a display of one of the saddest and most pathetic relationships ever put to film. Also, it was very entertaining and provided some food for thought for people, writers and actors in particular, who have had thoughts of moving to Hollywood in the hopes of making it big.
    Visually, the film is very interesting. There’s a stark contrast between the world that Joe Gillis comes from, that being sunny L.A. in the opening handful of scenes, and the gloomy interiors of Norma Desmond’s mansion. It’s very reminiscent, as many things in this film are, of classic horror. Dracula’s manor from the 1931 film was what first came to mind. The house itself is representative of Norma’s mental state. It’s in complete disarray when Joe first arrives, it looks abandoned and somewhat ominous. As the film progresses the house seems to come together, at the same time Norma is becoming dependent on Joe but seems somewhat happy, the scene of the two of them cuddling close on the couch I thought was significant. The exterior becomes cleaner looking, the pool is filled, and Joe looks a lot sharper as well, but it’s all in service to Norma, her attachment to Joe, and her continued self absorbed madness.
    Joe is not a sympathetic lead, he’s sleazy and totally self serving. Cheap would be a good word to describe Joe, though it’s stated that he was once a serious writer and respected by his peers, he’s now reduced to a struggling writer just trying to make ends meat. He’s desperate, he’s dishonest, and early on he has no qualms with swindling Norma. He’s a good example of a “never was” to Norma’s “has been”, his career has never gotten off the ground and her’s has crashed and burned, and their desperation is was brings them and keeps them together, at least for a time.
    Hollywood Blvd. is a mix of noir and horror, Joe’s narration in particular brings to mind films about private dicks in some dark and dreary city, even making me think of the voice over in the original theatrical cut of Blade Runner which itself was derivative of 40’s noir style films, though Joe’s narration is loaded with grim foreboding, bringing to mind Rod Serling in the Twilight Zone.
    The real horror comes in the form of Norma, Max, and the creepy old house where Joe is all but held captive. Again, I was reminded of Dracula, his creepy manor, Jonathan being stuck there, and Renfield’s unwavering devotion to the count. Some of Norma’s exaggerated facial expressions are very unsettling and there’s always a sense that should could snap at any moment and do something terrible. The tension builds slowly to the conclusion, complete with the twist that Joe is narrating the events that led to his own death.
    Overall, I loved this film. It’s very well shot and the performances were excellent. It’s a great contrast to all the films that seek to glorify the Hollywood system, offering instead a realistic look at what can happen to people, their morality, and their minds when Hollywood no longer has need of them.

    Like

  26. Derp ⋅

    For this one, I’ll talk about the last half of the film. Overall, I really enjoyed the film and I loved how the femme fatale plays a crucial role in this film. I also loved her craziness and creepiness, which reminded me of “Psycho” by Hitchcock. But as for the story, I did feel a bit annoyed about how persistent she is to her glorious past. I felt like she is clinging to it because she can’t adapt to the world that has changed. As someone pointed out that she selfishly expected the world outside of her to treat her like a princess, she seemed like she’s thinking that she can still live in the past.

    After watching the film, I harbored bitter feeling that this kind of struggle is inavoidable in this world. It felt very relatable to what happened in Japanese film industry recently.

    I’ll try not to go off topic too much, but the traditional visual effect “Tokusatsu” (=like Godzilla, using muppets, miniature building and fire powder to film gigantic figures) has deteriorated in recent years, just like silent film did. Though it’s been said as the epitome of Japanese film technology through monster movies like Godzilla, its popularity has been taken away by CGI by the mid-2000. Some films made some desperate attempt to revive Tokusatsu, but unfortunately they didn’t turn out well. Especially, Shinji Higuchi, the master of Tokusatsu, used Tokusatsu for live action “Attack on Titan” movie, but it was a flop and it was criticized very badly for poor visual effect (and storytelling, of course). After seeing these futile attempt, I couldn’t help but admit that the golden age of Tokusatsu is over. I am a huge fan of Tokusastu and I want it to be preserved, but I did feel that something has to end at some point, just like the quote in “Matrix”: “Everything that has a beginning has an end.” This applies to silent film and the actress’ past glorious role in “Sunset Boulevard”, too.

    In the end, the technology and the style of a certain culture cannot avoid the change and everyone must adapt to that change. Partial revival after a certain time is an option, but I feel that the complete revival wouldn’t happen, unfortunately.
    To get back on the track, I felt both compassion for her but also the frustration that nothing can be done to force the past to revive. If it would ever be revived, it would be by people’s wish, not by people who cling to their past glory.

    Like

  27. conan ⋅

    The second half of Sunset Boulevard was very interesting. Compared to the previous film, I could really enjoyed this one without knowing anything. The film is about a troubled script writer Joe Gillis and a forgotten silent film star Norma Desmond’s weird relationship and the people around them, so the story itself is really simple and classic. I guess anybody can enjoy this film without the background information. I expected something to be revealed about Max, but I was surprised that he was once married to Norma and what’s more he was the fifth husband. I can’t imagine Norma treats Max the way she treats Joe. It seemed that Norma couldn’t live without Max, I thought Max couldn’t live without her as well. In a sense, he might be doing his job just to continue to stay with her in one form or another.
    This movie is filled with heart-ache, love, tragedy, and ambition. I thought this movie is about desires and wants. Every character in this film struggles to get somebody/something. Max loves Norma, Norma wants fame and loves Joe, Joe loves Betty and Betty loves Joe and her fiancé. It was interesting to see their emotional differences.
    I think this film does a great job of showing what Hollywood does to people like Norma who have fallen from grace. Norma is trapped in her memories of a time when she was viewed as beautiful and sadly she doesn’t accept the reality that she is no longer needed. I suppose she doesn’t do her job because she likes it, but she just wants to be the center of attention. I suppose Norma feels that this attention is what made her happy.
    Overall, this film was very interesting. I totally understand that Sunset Boulevard still remains as one of the best film in the cinema history.

    Like

    • Pedro Rodrigues ⋅

      I agree with you when you say it would be better watching the movie without back ground information, especially, knowing about Joe’s death. I think it took out the element of surprise of the drama. Of course, it is a very good plot and the narration made things much more interesting. But, I knew what was going to happen, so there wasn’t any suspense during the shooting scene. Besides, Norma already shown the gun even before killing him.
      I also noticed that Max must have had some kind of relationship with Norma, considering the mutual necessity of having each side by side.

      Like

  28. dinerbears ⋅

    For me Sunset Boulevard is an interesting American noir film. It is cool used flashback to start the movie. Let the audience know the ending and tell narrate why it will be happened and why he dead in the swimming pool. I am kind of impressive the technique way to shoot under the water. In the present time the technique improves a lot so it is much easier shoot under the water at that time but the film was produce around 1950 so the technique is very good and very watchable now. The theme in this movie still can be using in the present time. It is interesting to see Joe’s chose for his life. He is a broke writer before meet Norma he was resist Norma’s wealthy at the first. However, he accepts to become Norma’s sugar baby. Norma was a washed out idol. She still thinks she is popular as before. People around her cannot tell her the truth because they afraid that they cannot handle the truth. I think the way Max take care Norma not let her know the truth. This film surprise me every where. Since Norma became a Joe’s sugar mom to Max tell Joe that he is Norma’s first husband, Joe full in love with Betty but Betty has fiancé in other place. Their relationships are complicated to understand. I was confused the relationship between Betty and Joe after finish the film. In the beginning Betty said that she is engaged with Artie but she still kissing with Joe. Also Joe still live with his sugar mom Norma. After Norma know Joe always going out secretly in middle of night and writing the script with Betty. Joe ask her come to his place in middle of night and told her something made her heartbroken. Norma thought that Joe chose stay with him but he is not. Than Norma just shoot him and she turn in really crazy. In this film I think Norma’s face expression always caught my attention when she opens her eyes really big. The last close up sense also make me has strong impression.

    Like

  29. uruwa ⋅

    This movie is one that you see spoofed in a lot of tv shows and other films. It’s a classic that even if you haven’t seen it, most likely know of it, or would recognize some scenes because of the other pieces that have copied it. Overall, I think it’s a really great, complex film. It shows the difference between good and bad, light and dark, not always in a very black and white way. Norma is the obvious antagonist, with the young female screenwriter being the desirable love interest. The main character is somewhere in the middle, in a gray area, constantly struggling between living a lavish lifestyle and obeying the morals that are nagging at him.
    It’s interesting to see a film made by Hollywood that kind of rags on themselves for the way they toss actresses away. Of course, it’s not blatant. Norma is still made out to be some sort of high-maintenance diva, but there is an underlying sadness that comes from the knowledge of how these actresses are used and all-but tossed away.
    Some of the plot twists in this film remind me a little of Hitchcock’s twists and turns in his movies, of course a little more tame here. In a way, towards the end, this became more of a psychological thriller more than anything, especially with the way Norma goes insane after shooting the man she adored.
    Overall, this moving is pretty amazing. It’s able to keep your attention throughout the entire film despite giving away the ending right away in the beginning. That is a pretty awesome feat.

    Like

    • TaiwanSwag ⋅

      I totally agree that the ending and the story overall are very attracting to keep at least my attention throughout the film. A lot of the movies give away the ending or at least you could always predict what is going to happen next nowadays. But Sunset Boulevard doesn’t. I am not a big fun of the old movies but I have seen a lot of the spoofed versions you talked about several times since this was a great classic. I never thought this film would turn to a psychological thriller at the end. But what I liked the most about the story was the twists throughout the story, especially finding out the the butler was Norma’s ex-husband.

      Like

    • pizzaboy ⋅

      It can really make one question what is really important in life. Is basing your value on temporally effervescent qualities really the wisest of pursuits? It honestly got me thinking pretty deeply about my own values in life…a hallmark of anything of high artistic merit. It was interesting that with how young the industry was at this time that it was already developed and self-aware enough to be able to spoof itself.

      Like

    • dinerbears ⋅

      I agree with you that this movie shows difference between good and bad, light and dark, and black and white. I think this movie give us clear thought about this. I also think the opining of this movie is interesting that give the audience ending and flash back to tell the story. This movie also gives people deep think what kind of life they want to have in their life. I agree with you that this movie keep the audience attention a lot. One of part surprise me a lot is Max is Norma’s ex husband. This surprise me a lot when Max told Joe at the garage.

      Like

  30. Sierra94 ⋅

    Living a lavish life without needing to work much sounds like the ideal dream of a lot of people, right? Well, not so much when your sugar daddy/momma is a narcissistic, possessive person who might have some mental disorder like Norma Desmond, as Joe Gillis learns in the film.
    The death of Joe was not very impactful, in my opinion, as the film had opened up on his corpse floating in Norma’s pool. That said, for a moment it seemed like the bringer of Joe’s death would have been Max after he said he was Norma’s first husband. The way in which Norma acted before she pulled the trigger of her semi-automatic handgun (I could have sworn she said she had a revolver, which is different in a number of ways), I could not help but think that she might have killed her previous husbands after Max, unless they have left while Norma was asleep. Regardless, that event seemed to have finally broken Norma to the point where she is delusional, believing that she is on a film set and ignoring the police investigators’ questions after the murder.
    I cannot say I was sympathetic to Joe and Betty Schaefer’s little affair as I am not sympathetic to people who cheat on their significant other (Betty) and people who knowingly enables that (Joe). Maybe things could have been different had Joe not been cooped up with Norma in her mansion.
    Overall, Sunset Boulevard was a good film.

    Like

  31. Incredible ending to this film.
    I was expecting the love story between Joe and Norma to end on a good note but I thought wrong!
    As for Joe, although it was his own fault for getting himself into the life of Norma Desmond’s for his own sake, I felt sympathy for him in regards to actually falling in love with another women but not being able to be with her because he lied about being in love with Norma. I knew that once Joe kissed Norma after he had found out she had attempted to kill herself, it was a terrible idea. As he began to live the life with Norma, he had felt it was a terrible Idea and he needed out immediately but Norma being crazy, it was difficult for him to leave her because of her past suicide attempts.

    Norma on the other hand, she was stuck in a fantasy world as she had lived her life in the spotlight and in her mind, she could never escape from it like an Amanda Bynes type figure in contrast to our reality. Based off of reality, these occurrences can happen to those that never got to live a normal life and doesn’t know what is normal anymore after losing the spotlight they had all of their life.

    It was a bit insane to see how Norma became after shooting Joe in the back three times because personally, I thought she was going to commit suicide killing Max and herself after she had shot Joe but became insane.

    Loved this film. After watching it, I will be careful for how i treat women and who I choose to date.

    Like

    • dinerbears ⋅

      i am surprise that you expecting this is a love story between Joe and Norma. personally i am not surprise the story end out with this because in the beginning of the movie already shows Joe’s’ dead body. However, i do agree with you that it is Joe’s own fault fall in love with other women but i think Joe kiss Norma is just like he pay back for her because Norma is his sugar mom. i also surprised that after Norma shooting Joe she became a real crazy women. in the last few scene the close up shot for Norma scared me a lot because her eyes and her action. I do agree with you last sentence please be careful for how you treat women and who you date with.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah I agree Norma’s eyes are really deadly. But since this film was Black and white, with her being so freaky looking, the use of the lights emphasized her appearance alot more which I found was brilliant.

        Same goes with Ed wood as well, Lugosi with his wrinkles and his eyes emphasized himself as a character in the film “Ed Wood”. Perfecting the use of lights can go along way to a great film.

        Like

    • dinerbears ⋅

      yea i think the lighting part make Noma’s face looks more ferocious because it is black and white so lighting might be one of important to shows their face and shadow. it remind me when i taking the media art class we have play with the lighting equipment because they want to show their face so they would not use the soft light. I always feel lighting is hardest part when people doing the filming because it might affect and change how the people look like. thanks for mention the ed woods, so i can connect the similar part together.

      Like

  32. Nyphos ⋅

    I had never seen this movie before, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve always been a fan of noir style movies, but I’ve never seen a drama directed in noir style before. I was initially a bit bummed out because I don’t like seeing the ending first, but there ended up being another layer to the ending besides just the main character’s death, so I was happy with that.

    I wonder how many silent film stars actually ended up the same as Norma after their era was over. Throughout the movie, I almost felt something bordering on disdain for her character. She felt so childish and narcissistic, but after she loses it at the end, I finally felt pity for her character. Even after the movie was over, I still felt somewhat conflicted about her character. One one hand, it must be terrible to finally achieve your dream, such as becoming a successful actress, only to have it ripped away from you because of something out of your control (such as the advancement of technology). But on the other hand, it seems that just before the silent era ended, she had become hard to work with and rather egotistical and arrogant, so who’s to say that she wasn’t the cause of her own downfall?

    Joe’s character wasn’t much better though. Taking advantage of Norma hardly seems right. Overall, I really loved the way the characters were portrayed. It felt much more human than many of the other noir films I’ve seen.

    Like

    • Vera Lynn ⋅

      I agree with your feelings on the noir style being used to tell a drama. I found it to be a very interesting and entertaining method of telling a story.

      I also like your take on Norma and Joe. I have a huge love for characters that are awful but watchable. It feels like watching a train wreck. You know it’s going to be bad, and you are going to hate what you see, but you can’t look away.

      I never really thought too much about the actors that carried over, or the ones that didn’t, from the silent to sound era. I always assumed that it was probably more of a personal choice for a lot of them. Something like the art changed, and they didn’t want to change with it. And I think that is probably what Norma told herself to deal with being left behind in the silent era. I guess that aspect of it is really quite sad.

      Like

  33. Nox ⋅

    I really enjoyed Sunset Boulevard. I was familiar with the opening scene as it’s been popularized through pop culture. I was extremely excited to see where it originally began. The plot was splendid. From the beginning you’re hooked because the story plays in reverse, eventually leading up the opening scene. Despite others, I have to say I could not find sympathy for Norma or her erratic behavior. She acted as Joe’s sugar daddy, buying him luxurious gifts to butter him up as her ticket back into the high life, but Joe was obviously disinterested. She was clearly delusional, but that does not excuse her abusive tendencies towards Joe and pretty much everyone else she came into contact with.

    Instead of gracefully bowing out, she tried to commandeer the floor as if she was the Angelina Jolie of her time and it simply does not work like that. I found her funny but on a personal level I would not want to be associated with her. I feel it’s worth mentioning the actress who played Norma, was a silent film actress herself who’s popularity did indeed wane with the release of television. It makes me question how much of this was acting, as opposed to real worry or trauma the woman who played Norma, Gloria Swanson may have had. She played the role perfectly, and I think it’s safe to assume she saw Norma as herself.

    Like

  34. TaiwanSwag ⋅

    In my opinion Sunset Boulevard is a very interesting movie that reflects on the time well and is still very relevant today. I guess that explains why this movie is always considered as one of the classics. The storyline and the way they shot the film kept me interested throughout the whole film. The music and the way they edit makes this film looked very mysterious, almost like the way how horror films are built today.

    It is interesting to know that this might be the first movie to be doing the scene where a person was shot then fell into the swimming pool. I was very impressed when I saw the scene because I wouldn’t think it was possible to shoot that back in the 50s. It was also very interesting to hear in the discussion that they put a mirror under the pool so we can see Joe’s body in the water. This led me to think that maybe the modern films who do the same scene might be referencing back to Sunset Boulevard, The Great Gatsby for example.

    Although I find the butler to be suspicious at times, I would never have thought he is Norma’s ex-husband. This twist makes me like this film even more as it totally blew away my expectations.

    Like

    • Vera Lynn ⋅

      I very much agree with the film being relevant, and therefore a classic. I think that is what makes something a classic. With a film like this we have characters and and a story that we can still relate to even thought it was made in the 50’s. I think people can still relate to a film like Sunrise, however, I think the subplot about selling the farm to move to the big city is lost on most people these days.

      I really wonder about some of the modern films staying power. How well will the super hero films of today hold up 50 years from now?

      Like

      • pizzaboy ⋅

        That’s similar to what I notice when I watch films by Alfred Hitchcock or other classic directors. Even with a movie like The Birds, there’s a full subplot and in-depth character development beyond just the horror film aspects. I honestly don’t think you would see that these days.

        You would just have a straight story with minimal development for the purpose of straight forward adrenaline buzz actions.

        Like

    • dinerbears ⋅

      I agree with your idea that this movie is interesting and the content reflects on that well still very relevant today. this topic is pretty interesting talk about washed up actor’s still think she is famous and popular as before. In the technical part I was also surprise when I heard that in the first scene Joe fell into the swimming pool. They put mirror under the water shows the reflection under the water. At first, I thought they puts camera into the plastic box and put under the water. However, the way the film this scene is much smart than I thought. Its also surprise me when Max said he is Norma’s ex husband.

      Like

  35. Eddie ⋅

    I’m really waiting to see how the next film ties into the this film so It’s definitely had some impact on my viewing experience. Also being in black and white it’s really an awesome film to see because I can’t recall any movies aside from It’s a Wonderful Life that I really enjoyed in Black and white, most of my viewing experiences have been centered mainly in color.
    I’m really interested in trying to find more films similar to this film because like I’d stated previously it’s a bit reminicent of the twilight zone which while is in Black and white are short and intense enough that unlike most of my early black and white movie experiences as a child which I found dull and boring.

    Like

  36. liarina ⋅

    Well, for me, Sunset Boulevard is really an enjoyable film. First of all, I don’t really have the thought and expected that this movie is a horror because the title makes me have the image the film should be a romantic story.
    Since the background is set at 1950. It is between the era of the end of the silent movie and the beginning of golden Hollywood period. It is quite interesting to watch this film and observe the facial expressions of the characters at the same time. It is because while in the silent movies, actors have to use exaggerate expressions and a lot of body languages to perform. However, though Sunset Boulevard is between two eras, we can see that the characters still finding difficulties to adjust their way of acting with spoken dialogue.
    Furthermore, I really like the way that the director tells the story begin with Joe’s body float in the swimming pool. It makes me want to know what exactly happened and the film uses flashback which is related to the event leading to his death. Also, I really like the character of Norma because she is crazy yet the audiences cannot really blame her for being that since she just a woman has dream to come back into the industry. Also, her craziness just somehow adds the humor into the movie so the whole film is more likable. And for the last scene when Norma walking down the stairs and moving toward to the camera, saying she’s ready for the final close-up. I think it is also a symbol that the dream of being an actress again just make her truly lost her mind, and it gives me the sense that the whole film is turning into the tragedy from a horror since the all the cameras are there because of the death of Joe instead of making her new movie.

    Like

    • conan ⋅

      I totally agree with you when you say the characters still finding difficulties to adjust their way of acting with spoken dialogue. I felt that especially for Norma. I found Norma really scary. Her facial expression was sometimes exaggerated. It seems like she was overplaying when she was lying in bed telling Joe not to leave her. But that exaggerated acting worked well because she was acting a crazy clingy woman. But I didn’t feel that for Max. I really liked Max’s acting. Although he doesn’t talk much, I could see that he was jealous of Joe through his tone of voice and his eyes.

      Like

    • OOR ⋅

      I agree with you that it was interesting and I’m not also expected that is human horror movie, but it was good and creative a start in this movie that I was surprised and confused how the movie starts because murder incident in mansion, so I got curious that how the storyline will be connected with the murder. Also, it is different with other normal movies that they don’t bring the almost ending scene on the top and begging of the movie. I realized that after I read your statement that it can be silent movie as well because the actor and actress was acting really well because I can feel and sense how they feel especially in the end of the movie. Joe was feeling being with Norma is getting tired because she chains him on work and private as well, and Norma is also getting crazy thinking about Joe. And then, she shot him by gun to kill him. I don’t know exactly that it was an accident or she really wanted to kill him because I can see how she feels in the movie after she killed him by gun shooting that she was dazed and seems like can’t understand and accept what she did to him. I agree with you that after the scene of shooting, she walked down the stair s and say ready for final close-up that she was out of mind we can see. Also, even though anything happened on actress, she has to take the final close-up, so she tries to do it that feel like really tough work. Therefore, I think that even though it is silent movie, it will be hit and people will like it. I also like story lines, but it is really scary that it can be happened in real life so.

      Like

  37. Frank Bullitt ⋅

    Sunset Boulevard (1950) all in all was an entertaining film. Billy Wilder delivered a film noir drama at the expense of the Hollywood film industry that was both giving insight into how the film industry works while poking a fun of it at the same time. I think it is always important to look at films like this that critique its own industry with a little more significance than normal.
    Without taking too much of the individual story lines into account, this film is about what happens to actors after they lose their star power. In this case, Norma Desmond is an actress that was incredibly famous in the era of silent film. Now however the industry has moved on and the studios have no longer wanted her in their films for some time. This of course takes place in today’s films industry just as it did back in the day that Sunset Boulevard (1950) was made. Due to her earlier success though, Norma believes that she can make the come back that she has been dreaming of for twenty years. However, once she realizes that this may not happen, she goes crazy and shoots Joe.
    Sticking with the character of Norma, her appearance in front of the camera is very interesting. When she appears on screen, the camera is generally looking up at her from bellow. This angle gives her more power to the audience, but with the way that she holds her head and the lighting that is put on her, this is a very uneasy power. Meaning that due to the camera angle and lighting, the audience knows that she has power but is not stable.
    Film Noir has several characteristics that set it apart from other films. Some of these include the heavy light and shadow, film narration, and the femme fatale character. The use of light and dark in Sunset Boulevard (1950) definitely give it the film noir feel. The scene that epitomizes the film noir feel in this film is when Joe returns the car to the garage and Max is sitting in the corner of the garage. The audience can clearly see Joe start to walk back to the house, but then out of the shadows, Max comes slightly into the light and delivers the news that he was Norma’s first husband. The film narration also gives it the film noir feel. In the beginning and end of the film there is some voice over narration giving the audience some background information and explanation that sets the audience up for what they are about to experience-somewhat feeding their expectations. And last is the femme fatal character, Norma. There is no doubt that she is the fatal woman. By manipulating Joe, and to an extent Max, she gets what she wants. But when Joe starts to stand up to Norma, She doesn’t like it and it eventually leads to his death.
    Another thing to quickly mention is Sunset Boulevard (1950) is still made under the Hays code. That being said, evil must be punished. Joe is punished with death due to him trying to take advantage of Norma and others (and not paying for his car) and Norma is punished for killing Joe.

    Like

  38. GreenBanana ⋅

    I personally think this is the one of the Hollywood films that shows light and dark side of the situation of the U.S.A. the story plot starts with murder incident in a mansion. I thought this is a interest strategies to bring up some incidents to show suspicious. it definitely drags audience to the film.
    The important effect is that discharges the performance and after the gun shooting, and go to the acting of the next interrogation cosmetic scene. i thought this transaction was really good because usually, one perverted the gun and burst into tears or dazed stood or something like this. usually, it goes acting in close up sense to the next scene. However, if that is the case, transition to the make-up scene while receiving the next interrogation scene will be difficult. because why is this guy suddenly became calm or something like that.
    that is why showing corpse sense at the beginning to add mystery element, the shooting scene will be treated as a “solution” rather why did he had shot. the film can shift the how audience thinks about the these scene. By doing so, the integration sense and the ending will be smoothly connected and the action will be look more attractive. the shooting before the music has also made the film more entertaining.
    The last scene of this film is wonderful.
    I personally think the drawback of the film might be the music. It pushes from the beginning of the movie. but consume and sets are wonderful. This movie depicting the back side go the movie, it looks as equivalent elaborate because it must go above the play with in a play set. It looked gorgeous even from black and white image. overall, i really liked this film and i will definitely recommend this film to people who have not sunset boulevard

    Like

  39. wakarinai ⋅

    This movie definitely raised some eye brows as it was very weird. Yet it was something of interest as well as it takes this man an completely turns his world inside out. Low key writer who is struggling to find work ends up living with a former super star actress who pays him and buys him items of the up most luxury. As a film this makes for a good story, yet as everyone was thinking; whats the catch? Is she evil is she deranged, or is she just lonely looking for an easy target or a desperate man. No clue if that was an offensive statement, so if it is then i apologize. Yet this is what I took from what I was watching. I was constantly questioning what it was he was thinking about. The end game cannot be good, as if the opening scene wasn’t a big clue.
    The genius of this movie is that it is a timeless plot. Who hasn’t fantasized about a good looking rich person sweeping you off your feet or taking your hand washing away immediately all of your worries and concerns. But this odd movie has taken this and shown us what this would be some what like. A crazy person with a big catch almost imprisoning a person for their own gain. Whether that be for her amusement or she’s just lonely. It is very compelling watching this movie unfold finally reaching the climax of how the man is finally killed, to later see what her full motive was as if it was not clear all along.

    Like

  40. wakarinai ⋅

    I think this movie harps very well on what its like for these people who grew up in the lime light. Having so much attention and fame, feeling loved by all and having it taken from you in a one moment would be difficult for anyone to handle with sanity. This lady clearly lost her mind after she had had her life pretty much taken from her and was looking desperately to be loved and have her stardom come back to her. In the movie our main character says it perfectly as she attempts suicide. Saying that it would make a good headline that a former star kills her self over an unknown movie writer. I think that many artists and former stars take to these drastic measures to get back the attention back. Some even take it so far that they would settle for negative attention as long as they see their name on headlines again. I think this movie gives an outstanding view of the lengths people will go to in life in order to reach what it was they once had.

    Like

  41. mkt18 ⋅

    It is an interesting film for me. This film is different from films which we already watched on class. Especially woman’s standard is different from other films. Norma has money and takes care of man named Joe.
    Other films we watched, women seems like they are weak and they are took cared by men. However, Norma is really strong and selfish. This film demonstrates how woman is evil. It is old movie but this like situation occurs in this decade. I am a woman, so actually I can understand a little about Norma. Of curse I cannot be Norma, but I know woman is really frightening. When I saw this film is horror genre, I was confused why this film is horror but now I understand it is real horror. Woman`s jealousy and bias are fearful.
    Another interesting point is fashion of Norma. She wears leopards dress and sexy dress. Women on other films wear not colorful dress like Norma wears. Leopard is today`s trend so it is interesting for me watching it in this film. Also, a car show the age of this film. I do not about a car, but a car in this film make a sense of this era.
    In addition, this film show how American changed. Norma lives with x husband in her house. Other films we watched in class, we watched many partners however, they do not divorce. In this era, i though divorce was not though because woman did not become independece. However, 1950s woman got power like Norma, some partner divorce, i think.

    Like

    • jonsnow ⋅

      I like this observation of Norma as a strong but selfish woman. A lot of other comments seem to take aim at her for being crazy or delusional, and in some ways Norma is actually very weak, emotionally. However she is strong in the way that she takes care of herself, unmarried and commanding of people. It is an interesting paradigm shift having reversed gender roles in this film, with Norma being the breadwinner and taking care of Joe, while also manipulating him into staying with her and pitying her. I think as a woman I can also relate to Norma of feeling helpless to your emotions and feigning sanity in the hopes of repressing crazed thoughts. Of course I’m not saying that every woman is inclined to feel this way or have these urges, but sometimes emotions can get the best of you, especially when you’re as unstable as Norma Desmond.

      Like

  42. wakarinai ⋅

    Max was the real hero in this movie from my perspective, especially when he explained how he was her first husband. although he was creepy and weird and caused a chill up my spine when I first saw him come on the screen. This is a man who day in and day out handles his business professionally and without fail is there for the owner of the house when he is needed. Saying nothing unless he needs to Max, who in the end I felt to be a little crazy as well and also very enabling simply loved the woman and did what he felt best as she went deeper and deeper into insanity. However I don’t think he did what he did in the end to make her feel better. I think his character understood there was a serious issue and took his chance to get her the help she needed. pressuring her to go to a doctor wouldn’t do it, and forcing her out of the house would make matters worse. I think he used the environment to get her up and moving to police custody. Allowing her to believe that she was back on the light of stardom helped her get the mandatory help that was clearly needed.

    Like

  43. OOR ⋅

    I have watched the movie called “Sunset Boulvard” I think that is interesting movie and classic was amazing. This movie has reigned as the Queen of Camp since the day it was released due to the over-the-top scenery chewing of Silent Movie legends Erich von Stroheim and Gloria Swanson. You can enjoy this movie strictly on its outrageous qualities, but there is also a rock solid story of obsession, ambition, and the lies we tell ourselves that finally makes this a great movie. The moral ambiguity nailed by William Holden’s performance is the focus that keeps this movie modern after more than 50 years. Sunset Boulevard is not for people who want a sentimental fairy tale. This is the forerunner of dark movies on the order of American Beauty or The Talented Mr. Ripley. If you like Sunset Boulevard, you might enjoy renting Male and Female – a good silent movie starring Gloria Swanson in her prime and directed by Cecile B. deMille, who makes a cameo in Sunset playing himself. Male and Female will give you a taste of the lost world that Sunset Boulevard refers to. I wonder and think it was interesting that it is one of the old films what we have watched, so sometimes the quality of the film is worth than the others. The scene when the man gets killed by the woman in her house in front of the pool and fall into the pool. The quality if I try makes it better, after the man feels into the pool, he must be bleeding from the gun shot, but there is no blood spreading into the pool, so I feel that it is old movie. However, as for the story quality is really good and I could enjoy watching this movie in the class.

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  44. OOR ⋅

    I have watched the movie called “Sunset Boulvard” I think that is interesting movie and classic was amazing. After I watched the movie I was surprised by the richness and depth of characters all around, but especially by Norma Desmond. As over the top and outrageous as Gloria Swanson is I never once didn’t believe her. To achieve this level of believability and honesty from this character takes great craft. The story is dark and twisted with some new depth of character being revealed at the most surprising moments. Cinematography and lighting are astounding. I will never be able to forget the one close up shot of Norma on the movie set back lit by the sets lights. My breath was taken away and it was only one of many times. This movie has reigned as the Queen of Camp since the day it was released due to the over-the-top scenery chewing of Silent Movie legends Erich von Stroheim and Gloria Swanson. You can enjoy this movie strictly on its outrageous qualities, but there is also a rock solid story of obsession, ambition, and the lies we tell ourselves that finally makes this a great movie. The moral ambiguity nailed by William Holden’s performance is the focus that keeps this movie modern after more than 50 years. Sunset Boulevard is not for people who want a sentimental fairy tale. This is the forerunner of dark movies on the order of American Beauty or The Talented Mr. Ripley. If you like Sunset Boulevard, you might enjoy renting Male and Female – a good silent movie starring Gloria Swanson in her prime and directed by Cecile B. deMille, who makes a cameo in Sunset playing himself. Male and Female will give you a taste of the lost world that Sunset Boulevard refers to.

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  45. BIGANTEATER ⋅

    “Love, Money. Jealousy, Death” could be an alternative title for this film. Love. money, jealousy can be rearranged in any order but death has to always be last. The latter three all lead to death in this film. The plot of this film is one that i feel resonates with real life and also teaches valuable lessons with the most important being dont ever fuck with peoples emotions. You never know how people will react especially when the mysterious unexplainable feeling known as love is involved. This film also shows how people will manipulate anyones feelings for the love of money. And to some, moeny = love with the two words being interchangeable. Not saying that is bad because each person’s happiness is based on one’s own perspectives and experiences.

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    • youngbillionaire ⋅

      I totally agree with this point that this film can be called “Love, Money. Jealousy, Death” and it would make perfect sense, if fact if it was called “Love, Money. Jealousy, Death” it would be a better fitting more attracting tittle in my opinion.

      Although I didn’t feel like it was much of a life lesson though because these themes are very common in soo many films and it wasn’t something new or from a new angel. There are tons of films about Hollywood and tons of films that teach love and not to mess with people’s emotion.

      Regardless it was a good film to watch when your bored and has a pretty infesting story line.

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  46. youngbillionaire ⋅

    This film shows the system of Hollywood at the time. Norma Desmond is a silent film star and she want to make a come back. I loved how Norma Desmond was soo full of her self with ego, and my favorite line from her was when she says, “I am big – it’s the pictures that got small!” and how she ends up being a murderer. The movie does a great job of showing what self-ego does to you and the type of thing they would do. I also like how the movie starts with a scene and then explain what happens and how that scene came about. Which is technique used even now days, I resized, like in season 1 episode 1 of breaking bad. Although I felt the story line itself is kind of common in the old time as there are many films that portray women with strong ego that end up doing the wrong things. Not even that but there is just a lot of Hollywood movie about Hollywood so even though the film was great and I enjoyed it nothing was fresh or surprising. What I really learned from the movie is that there were soo many talented film stars in the silent era as we spooked in class but once the silent era was gone those people lost there job, or wanted to have a come back. Because this was a common thing around the time I guess there is just a lot of films that have the element of old film starts trying to make a come back. Just like in Ed Wood (1994) Bella Lugosi was a old actor and wanted to make a come back.

    Over all its was interesting movie to watch but I don’t think its something that special or a classic. Maybe its just that I’ve seen films that came out after Sunset Boulevard and am used to films like this and didn’t understand that this movie is what created the ideas for the newer films or shows that I’ve watched.

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  47. jonsnow ⋅

    The second half of Sunset Boulevard fulfilled all of my old Hollywood classic movie expectations. I can see why it’s had a lasting effect on American films. It’s very meta in that it’s very critical of ‘itself’, or the industry that it puts on display. It may be a scathing portrayal of Hollywood and all of its smoke and mirrors, but it also lends an interesting perspective to all of the roles that are played in Hollywood, and I don’t mean in the films but in actual Hollywood itself. The struggling writer, the burnt out actress of past fame determined to remain relevant, the bright-eyed young girl trying to make her way in writing, and the ex-husband/director/butler (which was an unexpected twist in the movie). These are all people that would still have real-life counterparts today in show business. There’s definitely a Joe Gillis right now struggling to make ends meet and sell scripts, and there’s always going to be a Norma Desmond who wants to cling onto their past success and might go through extreme processes in order to hold onto fame. I liked how they brought all of these characters into a story together and showed how each of them are influenced by each other. I also enjoyed the ending, the ambiguity of the exact outcome of Norma’s actions and the dramatic yet insane manner in which she ends the movie was the great ending to a film that illustrated what Hollywood can do to you if you become consumed with it. It was also a thrill to see where the infamous “I’m ready for my closeup” line came from and understanding the context of it. I’m very happy to have watched this movie, and it’s a movie I would definitely watch again to examine the satire more closely.

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  48. mkt18 ⋅

    I like this film because this film show what is real human. Main characters such as Norma, Joe, and .. are selfish. Joe selfishly uses Norma to live wealthy and to success his dream. even though he does not like Norma, he does not refuse Norma because he knows Norma has money and helpful to connect film makers. Norma also selfishly uses Joe to fulfill her loneliness. She knows that Joe is not interesting in her, but she dose not let him go. By doing suicide, she tries to bind Joe. In addition, Betty is self-catered parson. Betty cheats Joe even though she has a boyfriend. Joe is illustrated a bad guy who betrays Norma, but she is also bad as same as Joe for me. Because she acts she likes Joe at the office, but she shows Joe that she gets along with her boyfriend. Her action tickled Joe’s jersey. Characters of this film are more like real human.
    Another interesting point is that this film is a genre of horror, and it is understandable, however, this film has an element of detective genre. Because the beginning of this film, the camera shows dead body in the pool. The audience might confused who is he? or what happened there? Also, narration helps making it mystery and getting attention.

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    • OOR ⋅

      I agree with you that real human story that it can be one of the real story and can be happened in real life. I feel like Joe is kind of bad boy that he wants to make his dream reality as using her wealth, but I feel like their relationship was going well if Norma doesn’t think about him crazily because they use each other. Actually, I almost forgot the story, so your statements is surprising me that I thought Norma is worse than Joel, but both of them are behaving bad against each other I realize. It seems like scary story that it seriously can happen in real life, and someone might kill the other person like joe got killed by norma. I am wondering that is this the seriously story or fiction? It is really hard to compare and recognize whether it is fiction or not. I realized that I don’t want to have a relationship or friendship like Norma and joe after I watch this film because I don’t think that the relationship doesn’t make them step up next stage or level. If they fell in love each other like happy ending as normal movie, it was good, but it will be a so boring movie as for the movie products.

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  49. OOR ⋅

    It was interesting movie that norma and joe were acting really well. I can see that Norma is kind of selfish woman that she chains him down that he can’t move freely at least as for working like writing a script she can do chaining him I feel because he can stayed at her house and is treated meals, so he has to work. However, at middle or end of the film, she gets crazy about him that she chain him down his whole life even his private that he can’t go out, and he gets irritated about it. The thing what I surprised most in the movie is she killed him by gun shooting. Might be she seriously got crazy and shot him because after she shot him, she seems like got really shocked. I was amazed acting was really good that I can sense of her feeling, and one more thing I am surprised is when the guy got gun shooting from her, he fell down into the pool, but he was bleeding even though he got shooting. The water didn’t turn into even red, so I feel like it is one of the old movies, so might be the director forgot put a red ink or something.

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    • RM ⋅

      This movie, the ending, wow. Perhaps it is because of the split way in which we watched the film, but by the time we got to the climactic scene where our main character Joe is shot and floating in the pool I was actually shocked a bit. I had completely forgotten that the whole movie was essentially a flashback and that the film had started with the scene of him dead and floating in the pool. It kind of threw me for a loop for a moment. Well lets get serious for a second. In my earlier post I commented on the production and I’ve mostly said all I want to about that already. Therefor I want to dig into the acting more as well as something I found kind of strange about the plot. The thing about the plot that struck me as strange was the younger girl romance subplot. I understand in some ways why it was there. In order to add more dramatic tension to joe and noras relationship and to provide an inciting incident for the shooting. What I don’t understand is the amount of time the film spends developing the girl character , I’m thinking of the lengthy conversations they have on the backlot at night. I suppose it shows them growing closer however that was already pretty well established earlier in the film. I guess it just seems a waste to me. Now on the other hand, Norma and her “performance” at the end, were simply haunting. As many people have written above me it was something that would not be out of place in a horror film. The way she is so so clearly insane and out of it, she is both a tragic figure and a terrifying one. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anything like it ever before. The actor who played her, Gloria Swanson brought such emotion to the role. Being a former silent movie actress herself, the exaggerated emotions on her face and in her acting added to the character a great deal, giving Norma the character a kind of crazy exaggeration, which brought home how self aggrandizing she was. It was tragedy though and through , I think the greeks would have loved it. They had a thing for tragedy, especially dramatic tragedy. It was shakespearian. I loved it.

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  50. Peach ⋅

    This film was quite possibly one of the most terrifying and yet satisfying films I have ever had the pleasure of viewing.
    Right from the get-go, we see that the film is leaning towards a genre of mystery with a hint of dark comedy and most definitely, murder (as the opening scene gives away as soon as the film opens). The narration seems to be the “main character” of the film, helping its audience throughout the entire film, giving us the “inside scoop” into the characters’ thoughts and such. It is also what gives the film a detective-narrator vibe. It vaguely reminded me of a book I read, as well as the film of the same name I had watched, The Maltese Falcon. That old-fashioned, walk-you-through-each-thought-process type of plot/storyline that many detective/murder films and books have followed to some degree.
    I always enjoy seeing films “open at the close”, as in, the opening scene is also the ending scene, and from that point on it’s up to the audience to figure out what happened and to put the clues the narrator and/or characters gives us together. Upon seeing the dead body floating in the pool in the beginning, I thought “Ok, who can it possibly be. A main character? Most definitely. The narrator? Possibly. Or is it just some minor character that had gotten murdered and the film is centered around who murdered him?” I was mostly wrong with my guesses while watching the film, but after being introduced to the character of Joe Gillis, it became quite obvious that he was the floating body in the pool. From there, now it was time to find out who killed him, why, and how. Which brings me to Norma Desmond aka, Gloria Swanson (Irrelevant, but she died on my birthday! Not the year of course but the month and day are accurate. Not exactly something I should be happy about though…).
    Norma Desmond was Gloria Swanson’s best and most successful role she had ever played in film, and boy did she do it right! Playing a reclusive silent film star with too many issues and problems to even begin to list, Swanson nails her role with a somewhat scary accuracy and realism. Almost as if she had played the part in real life…
    From the scenes where Norma Desmond was near psychotic and completely losing her mind, to the scenes when all she wanted was love and adoration, a pathetic, injured little lamb, it was believable and terrifying till the end. It could also be said that watching Swanson’s acting in this film could give one serious psychological confusion. Half the time I was watching the film I didn’t know whether to feel sorry for Norma Desmond or if I wanted to shoot her in the face so the other characters, namely Joe Gillis and Betty Schaefer, could be happy already! At times, it seemed the film was slow and dragging, but it would quickly remedy that by putting in an overly dramatic scene with Norma in it. Norma, Norma, Norma, without whom this film surely would not have been half as successful as it turned out to be! Gloria Swanson’s performance definitely saved the film. Of course the other actors and actresses were equally amazing, but god I loved seeing this villain/damsel in distress/murderess evolve from beginning to end!
    Speaking of villains, it’s hard to say who exactly is the villain in this here film! The obvious choice would of course be Norma because she did turn out to be the murderer of the body in the end, but when you really think about it, Max, Norma’s ex-husband/eternal servant, seemed much more like a villain to me than Ms. Desmond did. For one, it was 96% his fault she had turned out the way she did. He’s the one who discovered her and started her torment and downward spiral into the mentally disturbed woman she became. It’s also not so far-fetched to think that maybe Max’s continued presence in her life, especially at such a close and personal range, could have worsened, or at the very least encouraged, her behavior. Did she really need this constant reminder of what she used to be, following her every move, “taking care of her”? Maybe…But I still think she would have been much better off without Max ever existing in her life or at least, leaving her be after their failed marriage…
    Of course if this is the route my mind is going to take, Joe Gillis is just as much of a villain as Max or Norma is. It really wasn’t clear, even after he got shot, if he had ever truly had any feelings of love and/or caring towards Norma. He did of course use her 80% of the time for her vast fortune, but it is implied that he did come to actually care for her at some point, perhaps after her first attempt at suicide that we see? At least that’s what the director made it seem like. To me, it seems that all Norma was to Joe was a mentally unstable and somewhat easy to use, bank safe. She was his ticket to possible fame and fortune. Actually now that I think about it, Joe Gillis is just a horrible man! He acted like he loved Norma, while at the same time having another woman he actually loved on the side, he continued to ignore her obvious obsession with him and grew to “tolerate” it, all for her money! At one point in the film, when Joe is at the party after leaving the house the first time, Max calls and informs him that Norma may be in danger (or that she was dead? I don’t quite remember the exact words), and he goes dashing out on New Years Eve because he’s so worried and he CARED. This is the scene that the director cleverly put in to convince the audience once and for all that Joe and Norma are a thing and they will be a “thing” from here on out, they are the couple of this movie and that’s that!
    Blinded by this one scene in the film, I never realized that Norma could be the victim of all the male pro/antagonists or this film.
    Either way, I think Joe got what he deserved honestly, as did Norma. Max on the other hand got away clean…That’s the only thing that bothered me about the ending. No karma for Max? Too bad there wasn’t a sequel…

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