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Sunset Blvd. (1950)

8.6
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Ratings: 8.6/10 from 106,413 users  
Reviews: 403 user | 178 critic

A hack screenwriter writes a screenplay for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity.

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Title: Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Sunset Blvd. (1950) on IMDb 8.6/10

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Top 250 #41 | Won 3 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Lloyd Gough ...
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Franklyn Farnum ...
Undertaker
Larry J. Blake ...
1st Finance Man (as Larry Blake)
Charles Dayton ...
2nd Finance Man
...
Cecil B. DeMille (as Cecil B. De Mille)
...
Hedda Hopper
...
Buster Keaton
...
Anna Q. Nilsson
...
H. B. Warner
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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. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A Hollywood Story See more »

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 August 1950 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

A Can of Beans  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,752,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cecil B. DeMille agreed to do his cameo for a $10,000 fee and a brand-new Cadillac. When Billy Wilder went back to him later to secure a close-up, DeMille charged him another $10,000. See more »

Goofs

At the New Year's Eve party (at Norma's house), we hear someone plucking a violin, but when we look at the orchestra, they are all playing with their bows. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Joe Gillis: Yes, this is Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, California. It's about 5 0'clock in the morning. That's the homicide squad, complete with detectives and newspaper men.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Paramount logo appears as a transparency over the opening shot. The words "Sunset Blvd." are shown stenciled on the curb of that street. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hollywoodland (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Buttons and Bows
(1948) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
Played and sung by guests at Artie's Party
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Best Performance in Film History: Gloria Swanson
11 January 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The plot has been discussed at length in other comments.

To me SUNSET BOULEVARD has it all. The comedy is sly, the drama is of epic proportions because it's not JUST a story about Hollywood or an aging actress. It's really about the giving up of dreams.

Norma's dream of return, held to for 20 years, is ironic because Norma so closely parallels Gloria. That Norma cannot make a comeback in 1950 even with connections to DeMille is sad. The sadness is due to Norma's refusal to accept her aging or the politics of Hollywood that worship youth. It's ironic that Norma has no place in Hollywood (the parade has passed by) but DeMille is still working and in the scenes from Samson and Delilah we spot other old-timers like Henry Wilcoxon and Julia Faye--still working but not as STARS. The final irony here is that Gloria did make the comeback that Norma couldn't make.

Norma has a thing about STARS.... she says at one point... "the stars are ageless." Well this is true in a filmic sense. I can still watch Gloria Swanson in THE LOVE OF SUNYA or MANHANDLED and yup, she is ageless. She is still twenty something. That screen image is forever held up like a bad mirror to the reality of being 50. On another occasion Norma says "nobody leaves a STAR, that's what makes one a STAR." True again, but it's not just Gillis who is leaving Norma, her fans have already left. Hence if one is left, one cannot be a STAR.

Gillis also gives up his dream (temporarily) of being a writer, Max gives up his dream of directing, and even Betty gives up her dream of love with Gillis. Scary stuff.

The film is also about LOVE. Look what these people have done for love: love of another person or love of fame or whatever. Max loves Norma. Norma loves Gillis. Gillis loves Norma and Betty. Betty loves Gillis and Artie. Artie loves Betty. And all of them love Hollywood.

Everyone is crushed at the end of this film..... The scene of Max "directing" the scene as Norma descends the staircase is one of the all-time great scenes in a film. Norma's final speech, which sums up everything ("there is nothing else"), is devastating. Can she really be insane and make this lucid speech? If she's NOT insane then she has knowingly killed Gillis to prevent his leaving her (a STAR)....... Also the shots of Max blinking away tears as Norma descends (supposedly into madness) and also of Hedda Hopper crying are equally as devastating as Norma's speech about "being back" and "all those wonderful people out there in the dark" (which of course includes us every time we watch the film).

I cannot think of any other film (possibly CITIZEN KANE) that works on so many different levels. And Gloria Swanson gives the greatest performance in film history!


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