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.