- Rated: Not Rated
- Run Time: 1 hours, 50 minutes
- Video: Black & White
- Released: January 8, 2013
- Originally Released: 1950
- Label: Paramount Catalog
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Note: Disc 1:
- Commentary by Ed Sikov (author of "On Sunset Boulevard: the Life and Times of Billy Wilder")
- Disc 2:
- Sunset Boulevard: the beginning
- The noir side of Sunset Boulevard by Joseph Wambaugh
- Sunset Boulevard becomes a classic
- Two sides of Ms. Swanson
- Stories of Sunset Boulevard
- Mad about the boy: a portrait of William Holden
- Recording Sunset Boulevard
- The city of Sunset Boulevard
- Morgue prologue script pages
- Franz Waxman and the music of Sunset Boulevard
- Behind the gates: the lot
- Hollywood location map
- Paramount in the '50s - retrospective featurette
- Edith Head - the Paramount Years featurette
- Original theatrical trailer
- Aspect Ratio: Full Frame - 1.33
- English, French, Spanish
- Subtitles - English, French, Spanish
Performers, Cast and Crew:
William Holden &
Erich von Stroheim
Franklyn Farnum &
Doane Harrison &
Arthur P. Schmidt
Billy Wilder &
Franz Waxman &
Cecil B. DeMille,
Anna Q. Nilsson,
Ray Evans &
Director of Photography:
Memorable Quotes and Dialog:
"All right, Mr. DeMille. I'm ready for my close-up."
- Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson)
"All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup."
"I am big! It's the pictures that got small."
Academy Awards 1950 -
Best Adapted Screenplay
Academy Awards 1950 -
Best Art Direction - Set Decoration (b&w)
Academy Awards 1950 -
Best Original Score: Franz Waxman
Chicago Sun-Times - 06/17/1999
"...Gloria Swanson gives her greatest performance....The movie cuts close to the bone....SUNSET BOULEVARD remains the best drama ever made about the movies..."
Entertainment Weekly - 11/29/2002
"...A mordant masterpiece about two victims of self-deception who destroy each other and themselves....The movie is unimprovable..."
USA Today - 02/17/2004
"These days, it seems like 1950's best movie."
Billy Wilder's masterpiece SUNSET BOULEVARD, a corrosive black comedy that remains the most memorable assault on the emptiness and vanity of the movie business, stars William Holden as young, down-and-out screenwriter Joe Gillis. Narrated in flashbacks by the now-deceased scribe, the film unwinds the series of events that left him lying face down in a pool. Unable to sell his most recent chef-d'oeuvre, and in hock up to his eyeballs, Joe stashes his car in the driveway of what appears to be an abandoned mansion on Sunset Boulevard while trying to elude some persistent repo men. Closer inspection reveals the decrepit property to be inhabited by grandiose former silent movie goddess Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), and her zombie-like manservant Max (Erich von Stroheim). Upon hearing that he's a writer, the lonely but still wealthy woman offers to pay him generously to stay at the house and work on her "comeback" script on the life of Salome. Although spooked by the people and the surroundings, in desperate straits, Joe takes the job, little suspecting the madness of the netherworld he's entered. Wilder's merciless portrait of the dangers of a profession that trades in fantasy cagily couples the cynical amorality of the never-was with the near-psychotic narcissism of the has-been to reveal the vacuity of wealth and the transience of fame.
Character Study |
Essential Cinema |
Film About Film |
Film Noir |
Los Angeles, California |
Movie Stars |
- SUNSET BOULEVARD was an original selection to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1989.
- Erich Von Stroheim, who plays Norma's butler, Max Von Mayerling, was himself a famous silent film actor and director with whom Gloria Swanson had worked. In fact, a clip of the film QUEEN KELLY is used in the film. (Norma screens it for Joe in her home). QUEEN KELLY, produced by Joseph Kennedy, was only partially finished when Swanson desperately cabled Kennedy complaining of Von Stroheim's directorial tactics and (supposed) reckless disregard for money. Von Stroheim was subsequently fired from the shoot, an event alluded to in SUNSET BOULEVARD.
- SUNSET BOULEVARD showcases some of Hollywood's biggest players as themselves, including Cecil B. DeMille, Hedda Hopper, and Buster Keaton. Among the famous stars and directors of the silent era who appear in the film are Anna Q. Nilsson and H. B. Warner.
- A theatrical version of SUNSET BOULEVARD, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, premiered in London in 1993, starring Patti LuPone. Glenn Close took the role of Norma in the Los Angeles version and, in 1994, reprised it for the Broadway premiere.
- According to Mason Wiley and Damien Bona's INSIDE OSCAR, among the actors and actresses considered for the part of Joe Gillis were Montgomery Clift and Fred MacMurray; those offered the role of Norma Desmond included Mae West, Mary Pickford, and Pola Negri.