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Drama, Film-Noir
IMDB rating:
Billy Wilder
William Holden as Joseph C. 'Joe' Gillis
Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond
Erich von Stroheim as Max Von Mayerling
Nancy Olson as Betty Schaefer
Fred Clark as Sheldrake
Lloyd Gough as Morino
Jack Webb as Artie Green
Franklyn Farnum as Undertaker - Chimp's Funeral
Larry J. Blake as First Finance Man (as Larry Blake)
Charles Dayton as Second Finance Man
Hedda Hopper as Herself
Buster Keaton as Himself - Bridge Player
Anna Q. Nilsson as Herself - Bridge Player
H.B. Warner as Himself - Bridge Player
Storyline: The story, set in '50s Hollywood, focuses on Norma Desmond, a silent-screen goddess whose pathetic belief in her own indestructibility has turned her into a demented recluse. The crumbling Sunset Boulevard mansion where she lives with only her butler, Max who was once her director and husband has become her self-contained world. Norma dreams of a comeback to pictures and she begins a relationship with Joe Gillis, a small-time writer who becomes her lover, that will soon end with murder and total madness.
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1080p 1920x1080 px 8013 Mb h264 10156 Kbps mkv Download
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Right up there with Citizen Kane
Brilliant film that is easily Wilder's best. A true classic that deserves to be ranked alongside Citizen Kane. And comparing the 2 films in terms of acting, atmosphere, dialog, conflict, symbolism, and theme (to say nothing of depth): Sunset Boulevard surpasses Kane. The ending is unforgettable and ironic:Max gets to direct, Norma makes a "comeback" before the cameras, and Joe has a story, his own. Like Kane, Sunset Boulevard begins with the end. The first shot is of the gutter with the film's title printed on the curb,and the first shot of Joe floating lifelessly in Norma's pool shows us he has sunk even lower: the film proceeds to show us how he got there.

Sunset Boulevard is about the march of time:what time and technology does to people and what happens to those who don't or can't keep in step. And like Norma, the new Hollywood seems to be leaving Joe behind. The 2 cars in Norma's garage represent an unspoken bond between Joe and Norma; except for those cars the outside world has little use for these two. The finance company wants to repossess Joe's car and Paramount wants to use Norma's for a film.

The acting is unsurpassable;the dialog and narration memorable, and the atmosphere in that decaying mansion is palpable. One of those films, like Kane, that improves with repeated viewings. Endlessly brilliant. The film hasn't aged a bit, and Swanson and VonStroheim lend it an authenticity that would be impossible for any subsequent version to equal. Essential viewing.

The Paramount released DVD looks great and has worthwhile extras.
weird, bizarre, fascinating, great
This movie deserves all the accolades it has gotten here, as well as "Maltin's" four stars. It certainly ranks up there as one of Hollywood's greatest achievements. Seeing it again only reinforces my opinion that William Holden was one of the truly great actors of the last [!] century. Gloria Swanson, however, steals every scene she's in; you can't turn away from watching her, even though she makes you really uncomfortable - it's like watching a train wreck. I don't know if the black & white was an economic or an artistic choice, but the film would never have been as effective in color. The opening shot - the floating, dead body of Joe Gillis, eyes wide open, shot looking up from the bottom of the pool - is one of the great shots, and an unforgettable opener, matched perfectly by the unforgettable closing closeup of Norma Desmond. To have Cecil B. deMille actually play himself was an inspired touch. Throw in Eric von Stroheim and you have an unbeatable combination. Truly one the all-time must-see films, although I don't know how to classify it - film noir? black comedy? Hollywood fable ? horror story? psychodrama? Who cares; just see it.
Give It At Least Two Looks
On my first viewing, I wasn't particularly impressed with this movie but I liked it a lot more on the second and by the third - when it's magnificently transferred on DVD - I was fan, too. This is a good visual film, particularly when it shows the inside of this incredible mansion where a lot of the scenes take place.

To those who have never seen it, you are warned that it is not an easy film to view, it being a portrait of a pathetic has-been silent movie star who still thinks she can come back after a long hiatus and be a star again.

Gloria Swanson, who plays the role, overacts and certainly is not appealing, even bordering on grotesque at times, but she isn't supposed to look good. That's one of the points of the story. Anyway, a young William Holden, in his first starring role, is okay and also provides the narration.

The most interesting figure in the film to me was the ex-husband-now butler, played by Eric von Stroheim. He's amazing in this film. In supporting roles, I also enjoyed the wholesome Nancy Olsen and the young Jack Webb of "Dragnet" fame.

This combination of drama-soap opera-film noir is one of the professional critics all-time favorite films. Odd how they love movies and Hollywood stars so much, yet relish films that tear them down, as this does.
"And must you chew gum?"
It so happens that as I was watching Sunset Boulevard, I was chewing gum, and Gloria Swanson's clipped, derisive tone felt more like it was directed not at William Holden's washed up Joe Gillis in 1950, but at me, sitting on my couch in 2008. I didn't throw my gum away like Gillis does, but still, I did feel a little disconcerted. Norma Desmond knew I was chewing, and she didn't like it one bit.

But this is part of Sunset Boulevard's charm. While it's a movie about the ways movies had changed, were continuing to change, and those they left behind, it also shows us how, in some ways, they've remained the same. Its references to the WGA, popcorn cinema, and the tragicomic nature of washed-up celebrity feel oddly contemporary while simultaneously being firmly rooted in the Fifties.

While some of the period references to actors and directors went over my head - I'm no expert on the silent era - it didn't affect my enjoyment of them one bit. The fact that Wilder and his team were brave enough to include such comments gives the film a cool, relaxed feel even as the web that binds the characters draws ever-tighter.

It's fantastically acted too. Holden is brilliant as the struggling everyman who quickly realises that he's gotten way more than he bargained for, and Swanson is pitch-perfect as the faded screen star whose grip on reality has crumbled far quicker than the walls of her mansion, right down to the wide roving eyes and claw-like hands. They're well-supported, especially by Erich von Stronheim's eerily restrained butler Max.

Of course, great dialogue and performances are nothing without a plot to match. Despite the fact that the beginning reveals the end, Sunset Boulevard still manages to keep you hooked from the moment Holden sits at his desk for the first time right up until the movie's cruel, haunting, tragically human conclusion.

Very rarely do "old" movies actually live up to their reputations, but I'm pleased to say that Sunset Boulevard does, and it's a credit to Wilder's team's ability that this noir-drama stands the test of time. A truly great film.
Revisiting A Masterpiece.
After reading Wilder Times, one of the many biographies of Billy Wilder, just recently, I naturally revisted many of his films in the last few weeks. And today, I have just read of the death of the great Billy Wilder. This has prompted me to write my first review, on the IMDB, of my favourite of this man's long series of great films and screenplays.

Sunset Blvd is suspenseful, witty, and tragic. Brilliantly written and directed, it is a classic for many reasons, but most notably that it is possible to like the movie more each time with each viewing. It may not be possible to appreciate such a detailed and rich film in one viewing. Whether it be the real Hollywood stars in cameos(Buster Keaton, Cecil B. Demille etc), or the skillful casting of Gloria Swanson and Erich Von Stroheim, that adds such a grim reality to their, all ready, well written roles, to just how frank and bleakly honest this movie was for it's time, in it's portrayal of Hollywood.

For William Holden, a very handsome Hollywood leading man, to take on the role of a poor bitter writer,Joe Gillis, was, I consider a brave role, even by many of todays leading man standards. Gloria Swanson prevents the character of Norma becoming a ridiculous caricature and keeps her real and therefore tragic.(None the less, Ms Swanson also gives a famously delicious performance in this feisty role) And Nancy Olsen, who plays a very grounded and honest, Betty Schaefer, perfectly matches the unreality of the world of Norma Desmond.

Goodbye, Billy Wilder. You will be missed.

Cruel and Unusual
Sunset Blvd is certainly one of the best movies I've seen, and I enjoyed it immensely. The mother of all Anti-Hollywood movies is still the best.

It is unusually abstract for a 1950s movie (even for a modern movie) and any arthouse lover would enjoy this it.

But what I did not like about it is that it is a very cruel movie. But I guess it's part of the movie's theme: Hollywood is cruel and don't have anything to do with it.

It works on the same concept of the Coen Brother's "Barton Fink" that says warns you that "if you want to win in Hollywood you'll have to be willing to loose your soul."

Scary though.

But still I can't wait for the DVD of Sunset Blvd.
The seedy underside brought to life
I really enjoyed this film because of its realism. The seamy and unclean underside of "Hollywood" is given flesh and blood by both William Holden in his calculating manipulation and Gloria Swanson by her cold, grasping desperation. The technique of telling the story from the viewpoint of William Holden's character, who has already paid the price of his cynicism and greed, was so effective as to be priceless. What was best, for me however, was the sympathy that both the lead characters managed to evoke in spite of their obvious and outrageous flaws. What could be more realistic, pitiful, but superbly tragic than the butler writing phony fan letters to his faded star employer? The fact that Sunset Boulevard was filmed in black and white I believe added to the power of the acting and the effectiveness of the narrative in the sense that it lent a grimy aspect to what was truly a dirty little story of personal failure. I also believe that because it was in black and white, I was never distracted by the scenery or the beauty of the sets and I was able to concentrate on the central aspects of the acting of William Holden and Gloria Swanson and the story they were portraying. This was one of the greatest movies of all time!
Class Act
Spoilers. Sometimes lousy movies can be redeemed through means of a plenitude of epigrams sprinkled on the script. This one has all the classic tag lines. "We had faces then." "I am still big; it's the pictures that got small." "Ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille." "The audience doesn't know that someone writes the words; they think the actors make them up as they go along." And some lousy movies have little, barely noticeable touches that redeem them. Gillis storms out of Norma Desmond's house on New Years Eve after an argument, leaving his kept existence forever, but his long watch fob gets caught on the doorknob as he exits. (He'll be beck.) Norma visits a set on the Paramount lot for the first time in twenty years and, asked to sit and watch a rehearsal, the microphone on its boom brushes against her feathery hat and she shoves it away with irritation. And that last devastating dissolve.

But this movie doesn't need that kind of redemption. The script -- the entire film -- is a classic that stands on its own two feet.

Gloria Swanson's performance is overblown, as it should be. Von Stroheim -- or, let's call a spade a spade, plain Stroheim -- brings to his role the starchy oblige that he showed in "Grand Illusion." Holden will be remembered probably for three roles: "The Bridge on the River Kwai," "Picnic," and this. Brackett's script is well above average, even with its use of a voice-over, given by a dead man. Pat Olsen is mouth wateringly beautiful. She went on to make several other movies with Holden, none of them as good as this. The photography and art direction also stand out. This is one REALLY rotting mansion. Everything is out of date, from Buster Keaton to the tiny roach clip Norma Desmond wears on her finger when she smokes.

Amid the bizarre melodrama there is one quiet, simple scene I always find appealing. Holden and Olsen are on a dark, deserted city street on Paramount's back lot, and she tells him she once had her nose fixed. He playfully leans down, examines it, and kisses it lightly. Then he backs away a few inches and warns her never to let him get closer than two feet. If he does, she should hit him with her shoe. Holden never indicates more than a momentary physical attraction, combined with a realization that he'd better not push the envelope. He later tells us he's "crazy about her" but we don't believe him. But in this effective and signal scene, Olsen's expression never changes. Her smile is sweet, agreeable, alert, and curious -- without in any way welcoming more intimacy. It all sounds rudimentary but it's tough to put this kind of exchange over and both performers do it splendidly.

The story is elementary. Gillis, a failed screenwriter, is adopted by Norma Desmond, a rich but forgotten star of the silent days ("Oil wells in Bakersfield -- they keep pumping and pumping and pumping"), and he succumbs to greed, letting her buy him vicuna coats and "evening clothes" and whatever, in return for which he supplies the only thing she needs and he has to offer. But he doesn't do so without loathing himself. And when he falls for another girl, he decides to reject everything, Norma and girl friend and vicuna coat included, and go back to Dayton, Ohio. He doesn't make it. Everything about the story, Gillis's death included, is comic in a way, acerbic may be better, but very dark too. Wilder could be a phenomenally good director when the right script came his way, and this is an instance.
A Masterpiece of Cynicism
Despite a few flaws, Billy Wilder's condemnation of Hollywood's egotism is one of the best. "Sunset Boulevard" is grim, often depressing, and truly unforgettable. Its portrayals of a narcissistic woman's hunger for now-vanished fame, and the tough-guy writer who is engulfed by her destructive ambitions, overcomes some slight script flaws that result from over-striving for the noir tone. Sometimes the emphasis on the characters' utter doom is hard to take; more often, it is extremely effective.

William Holden is perfect in the role of Joe Gillis, a down-on-his-luck scriptwriter; many actors could not convey his mixture of repulsion and fascination with the ex-movie star. Gloria Swanson is occasionally too melodramatic, but her grotesqueness distinguishes her character from the classic femme fatale of most films noir. Altogether a great film-- the camerawork alone is worth watching.
One Helluva Film

Sunset Boulevard was absolutely amazing to watch again given the fact that it was made some 40 odd years ago and still holds up as a very modern film whose commentary on Hollywood is still right on. Gotta love Gloria Swanson for having the balls to take on this role, given the fact that she was, at this point, a faded star in real life. William Holden is magnificent, the kind of man's man that never seem to be onscreen nowadays. Just to have Von Stroheim and DeMille in a film playing themselves is a trip in itself.

A tribute to just how amazing Billy Wilder was. They'll never be another quite like him.
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