Monday, January 18, 2010


Sunset Boulevard (1950) Noir. Directed and co-written by Billy Wilder. Cast: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough and Jack Webb. Director Cecil B. DeMille and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper play themselves. Cameo appearances: Buster Keaton, H. B. Warner and Anna Q. Nilsson.

Having trouble finding work as a screenwriter, Joe is served with a court order turn in his car or pay $290 in back payments by the next day.

Joe meets with Paramount studio producer Sheldrake to sell him a picture he has written, but is quickly turned down. Joe decides to head back to Dayton, Ohio, where he worked as a newspaper copy writer.

While driving down Sunset Blvd., he sees the two men who want to reposes his car. He turns into the driveway of a old rundown mansion and hides the car in an empty garage. Joe then enters the house, where strange acting butler (he reminded me of Lurch from the Addams family), orders him upstairs to meet with "madame". Joe soon learns that he has been mistaken for a mortician, who is expected to arrive with a small coffin for the dead pet chimpanzee.


Joe recognizes the woman as Norma Desmond, once a famous silent movie star. When Joe tells her that he is a screenwriter. She believes that they are compatible, and hires him on the spot. She has him stay in a room over her garage.

The next day, Joe finds all his things have been moved from his old apartment. At first he is angry with Norma for her taking control of his life. Unfortunately, he desperately needs a job, so he keeps quiet. Joe sits back and watches Norma's fragile/enormous ego go through her ups and downs.

One night, when Norma has her Hollywood friends come over to play bridge. Two men show up and tow away Joe's car. Norma has Max refurbish her expensive Italian sports car for him. In hopes to make Joe happy.

On New Year's Eve, Norma throws a lavish party, Joe goes into a rage because he feels smothered and runs out the door.

Will Joe finally be on his own?

I really enjoyed watching the film Sunset Boulevard. I was surprised by the depth of characters. Especially the outrageous Norma's fragile/enormous ego. The story is dark and twisted with Norma's character coming out at the most surprising moments. Cinematography and lighting are wonderful. A movie I will never forget.

Fun Fact:

The role of Norma Desmond was first offered to Mae West (who rejected the part), Mary Pickford (who demanded too much control), and Pola Negri (who, like Mae West, turned it down), before being accepted by Gloria Swanson.


  1. I love Gloria Swanson in this film. In a way, a very autobiographical movie for her.

  2. I agree with Kim, this film is autobiographical for Swanson. She will always be remembered as Norma Desmond. This is an unforgettable film with a wonderful cast. Great review!

  3. Dawn, do not forget the glue that holds this film together, Franz Waxmans Oscar winning score.

  4. Kim, I love your new blog! I agree, this film does seem to tell Gloria Swanson's story. Maybe.. that is why she seems so perfect in the role.

    Silent, Thank you. I love this film. I can not believe that I have not seen it before now.

    Paul, Thank you. I did forget to talk about the music score. I loved everything about this film. Never a dull moment.

  5. BTW Dawn, Bill was not Billy Wilder's first choice for Joe. Montgomery Cliff was

  6. Paul, Montgomery Cliff, would have been great in the part of Joe.


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