Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard is a film from 1950 directed by Billy Wilder and produced by Charles Brackett. It is a Hollywood story about a former silent film star, Norma Desmond, and a not so successful screenwriter, Joe Gillis. The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won three, it’s been rank as one of the best films of the 20th century.

The film starts with a scene where a man is found dead in a Hollywood mansion pool, and we learn that the man is the narrator and main character of the film. We are then taken back 6 months prior to the death of Joe and throughout the movie we learn how and why he ended up dead in that pool. Starting the movie with the ending scene of the dead man in pool makes the story very interesting, as we know while watching that Joe is going to be killed, the question is who killed him and why?

In many ways the film makes fun of Hollywood and the life of movie stars by portraying the character of Norma as a narcissistic, self-loving, drama queen as a result of her success in silent films earlier in life. Sunset Boulevard is a black and white film with a “haunted house kind of feeling.”  Sunset Boulevard is a film noir with a voice over narration of the main character who is telling us the story about his own life. The film uses a lot of dark shadows to create mystery, epically in the scenes shot at Norma’s old mansion.

I can imagine that the film was a great success in its time, and it’s clear that films like this shaped the Hollywood films we watch today.



3 thoughts on “Sunset Boulevard

  1. This review was a very simple, yet sweet way of describing the film. At first Norma came off to me as a bit mysterious and closed off towards others, then she developed into that drama queen state that you briefly mentioned, along with a diva-like quality (which was really funny because it reminded me about various films/shows that have incorporated diva type characteristics in their characters/story lines), before finally reaching a point where she was so desperate for love and having her life back to the way it used to be that she would do whatever it takes to get those things, and so, becomes somewhat psychotic. She was a very interesting character.


  2. Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder’s 1950 film, is a film I’ve never seen before but I recognized the name. What I first noticed about this film was though its old it isn’t “aged” too much. It has a style, mood, and modern feel to it. I can tell many filmmakers over the years have been inspired by this film. From the opening scene instantly you’re flung into the action narrated by Joe Gillis. He tells us that there’s been a murder in one of those real big mansions, the kind you probably won’t ever get to see Immediately, we know the result, and we know who the victim is. Ok, so there isn’t any suspense. The audience has to look for why did this happen and for what reason(s). Sunset Boulevard is a smart and witty comedy, didn’t expect that. Our main character, Joe Gillis, a very cynical and wise-cracking guy is straight up about his current situation with no work, no money, and the threat of losing his car; a reality many of us can identify with. when he first meets Norma Desmond, he’s influenced by her money. He is unable to leave the house, and dislikes his situation but his use of brains, and wit made for an entertaining ride through the whole film. Norma Desmond, a silent film actress whose grip on reality is a rather lose one, doesn’t care that her film career is over. The film also gets away with poking fun at Hollywood which never gets old. The narration gives the film its personality. So, Sunset Boulevard is a great film about Hollywood. After watching it, I understood Norma’s insanity, considered the time period when this film was made: World War II was over, and the Cold War was in its beginning stages, which you don’t making Sunset Blvd. a timeless masterpiece. Wilder did Sunset Boulevard as a film about Hollywood, and the movie industry. Its engaging, smart, and funny.


  3. Great review, I see how despite how sarcastically humorous this movie was throughout – It still gave off a “spooky” feeling. I mean Norma was pretty crazy, being a suicidal, needy old woman with a lot of money… Of course Joe stayed. I like that you short but simply summarized the movie. So far throughout this class I’d say Sunset Boulevard is one of my favorites.


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