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|Index||453 reviews in total|
Great acting all around, Billy Wilder proves he's one of the master writer/directors... a real treat of a film. Don't expect a fast moving story, but still worth the time. That score is a little overbearing at times, but hey, loud isn't always bad. ****/5
it's a great film, especially the performance of Gloria Swanson is great.
One of her last great films. Also the role of William holden is great. I
think Gloria SWANSON deserved the award for best actress. I will see this
great film!!!! YOU MUST SEE THIS FILM.
For me this is Billy Wilder's [and likely Holden's] finest work, which is
saying something on both counts. And Bill was robbed of the Oscar for this
The only flaw in the entire film is one which echoes "Citizen Kane's" sole error ~
Sunset: How can a dead man narrate a film?
Kane: How can a dying man utter a word ["Rosebud"] in an empty room, and yet have the entire film revolve around friend and fellow newsman Cotten's search for the word's meaning? I mean, no one actually could have heard him say the word. Don't believe me? Watch the beginning again ~ the nurse walks in after Kane falls down he stairs.
Read everyone else's review of this film, because it's all been said here.
It's a tour de force on every level, and not just for the [now cliched] line: "I'm ready for my close~up, Mr. DeMille," nor for the fact that the past~her~prime Gloria Swanson agreed to play a has~been [unheard of at the time. even though Swanson was never really an extraordinary Hollywood figure].
The kicker for me is that the extremely important early German expressionist filmmaker Erich Von Stroheim actually lowered himself to play Swanson's [Garbo~based?] character's butler/assistant, helping to keep her legend alive.
This is akin to Martin Scorsese playing butler to average actress Kelly Preston 20 years from now.
Holden, as the penultimate gold~digger/gigolo [albeit unwittingly at first], is simply brilliant. As is the forever underrated Nancy Olson as his wannabe screenwriter mentee. Despite her first~rate work here, she never appeared in another masterpiece again.
William Holden did, of course, and a case can be made for his performances in "Bridge On The River Kwai," "Stalag 17" [Wilder again], "Picnic," "Network" etc.
But for me this was his career's defining role.
10 of 10 [and #6 in my US Top Ten Films]
Not too many films could personify all that is Hollywood quite like this
film. This film speaks Hollywood, shows Hollywood, cries Hollywood and dies
Hollywood. Billy Wilder tried harder than any of his other film while making
this one and it sure shows.
The story of the aging film star that still lives in the past was something like a tribute to an era that even in the 50's had long lost its luster. Gloria Swanson in the best role of her career plays Norma Desmond, the silent screen star who is in the process of writing a script for a film to be directed by Cecil B DeMille, or at least she believes so. Norma entails the help of a younger man named Joe Gillis (played by William Holden), who in a bit of desparation of his own, decides to alter her script for her in return for money and a place to live.
The haunting mansion that Desmond lives in with only her butler Max (Erich von Stronheim) shows only pictures of her, has a screen onto which her films are shown to her weekly and plays host to other former silent film stars (notably Buster Keaton in a surprise cameo), is a reminder of how time passed Norma by. Norma tries, though in vain to make Joe love her as she loves him. She even goes through the trouble of having a small orchestra play all night on New Year's Eve just for the two of them. When Joe asks when all of the other people are going to arrive, Norma responds "this is a special evening, this is our evening." From here on we see to what lengths Norma will go to show Joe how much she loves him, regardless of the fact that he does not love her.
Joe is eventually approached by a script reader, Betty, (Nancy Olsen) that finds some potential in one of his older scripts and offers to work with him to bring it up to par. The only problem is the close grip that Norma has around him. Joe knows that he can only sneak away at night since Norma doesn't want him to be away from her for any amount of time. Joe leaves frequently to work with Betty, all the while falling in love with her.
The tragic ending in this film reminded me of the one in "The Great Gadsby." It is another example of love gone wrong when a man should have been with the girl he loved, however, the circumstances he is in simply won't let him.
I fully enjoyed this film and would recommend it to all. This film is truly one of the all time greats.
"Sunset Blvd" unfortunately wasn't as exciting for me as I thought it
would be after hearing all the hype. Perhaps it is because the premise
is either too dated or too cliché. Nowadays, sixty years after the
movie was released, we all know the dark side of Hollywood. We know how
it eats people up and spits them out. There is something very real
about this film noir, but today it is not something new or particularly
interesting. However, sixty years ago, this film was probably more
intriguing and 'groundbreaking'.
I am generally a fan of more character driven movies so I did enjoy that aspect of "Sunset Blvd". The movie is well cast and the female lead, Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, is a particularly interesting character is sad to watch because she is a fallen star who fails to grasp reality. The costumes in this movie are notable if you pay attention to them. The sets are also a strong suit.
This movie accurately shows just how cruel Hollywood can be. However, this is no revelation to people who watch it for the first time nowadays. You will either greatly applaud it or it will be unappreciated.
Do you want to be disturbed?
Are you ready for a clammy, ice-cold classic that's relentlessly sad, chilling and upsetting?
Try SUNSET BOULEVARD.
Where else can you find a movie that starts -- actually starts -- with the main character being dragged out of a swimming pool dead? And then, the poor dope spends two hours telling you how he lost his job, his career, his girl friend, his self respect, and his life.
But he got that swimming pool he always wanted.
It's horrible to watch Joe Gillis lose everything. William Holden gives his character so much smarts and charm, you just can't believe he can be snuffed out so easily. But that's what Hollywood does -- and the message is that if it can happen to Joe, it can happen to anyone.
On the other hand, Norma Desmond is truly a fiend out of hell. Gloria Swanson will never be equaled in her courage, playing a woman who is more repulsive and hateful than any modern serial killer or hatchet wielding maniac. And yet all she wants is to go on being young and beautiful forever, sharing the magic of her stardom with "those wonderful people out there in the dark!" And the message is, if this monster is what's in front of the camera, who knows how many other monsters are out there -- in the dark?
At the heart of this movie is an intriguing contradiction. On the one hand, the chilling madness of Norma Desmond is as real and modern as the ghastly antics of the late Michael Jackson. (Funeral for a chimpanzee, anyone?) On the other hand, the anguish of Joe Gillis at being "kept" by an older woman is almost (and I do mean almost) too sexist and out of date to keep the viewer involved in the story.
Consider how this story would play if the gender roles were reversed. What if Norma Desmond were a tough, male Western star of the silents -- someone like legendary stuntman/cowpoke Tom Mix. And what if the young screenwriter were a pretty young woman with a cheerful, irreverent, upbeat personality, sort of like Carole Lombard or Katherine Hepburn? If the two of them got together it would seem sweet, romantic, not repulsive and chilling. Particularly if the eager young female helped him to get over the death of a beloved wife, or maybe his horse.
The point is, no one would be horrified if a 50 something male star seduced a bright young woman in her late twenties or thirties. In fact it would be regarded as rather romantic by a lot of people.
A lot of the "horror" of SUNSET BOULEVARD comes from an unthinking assumption -- that women with money and power are unnatural creatures and that they can only attract younger men through evil and manipulation. And there's also the double standard that a woman over 50 is no damned good to a man, but a man over 50 is still in his prime.
One final thought: William Holden had a wonderful career well into his seventies, and deservedly so. One of his last great performances was in THE WILD BUNCH, where he plays an aging outlaw named Pike Bishop. Note that Pike has the same basic concerns as Norma Desmond. Have I outlived my era? Can I still command respect? What was my life worth? Yet Pike's struggles to pull off one last job are not only not laughed at -- they're rendered as poignant, admirable, and unbelievably heroic. Pike plays the kind of noble, courageous life-giving elder whose wisdom and humanity -- and even his violent tragic death -- simply serve to rejuvenate an entire community.
That's the kind of part a mature actress should be able to play as well!
I am a big fan of Film Noir Genre and also love Billy Wilder movies
especially 'Double Indemnity', 'Witness for the Prosecution' and
'Apartment'.No one can keep you more glued to the seat than him but
when I watched 'Sunset Blvd', in 20 minutes I was already aware I was
watching his masterpiece, The best film noir ever.
The tension created by Wilder to the mystery of Norma Desmond character acts as duel progress to show a lonely woman and also the changing trends of Hollywood and the impact on stars that fade.It also tells the story and struggle of nascent writers in Hollywood.Well throughout the movie I didn't stop saying WOW!! The lighting, the camera angles, the sets, the screenplay all add to the noir atmosphere but it is all topped by wonderful Direction which is really flawless.Also, realistic acting performances by both William Holden and Gloria Swanson are 10/10.You can't really chose which one has done his/her part better.
I never put spoilers in my reviews so I would highly recommend to watch this movie.Even if you are a Noir fan,you will love it.If you want to start watching this genre,start with the best,the crown jewel of film noir and that's undoubtedly 'Sunset Blvd' .
I was a little speechless after I first finished watching Sunset Blvd.
I had an idea of what to expect, but I didn't expect that a film made
over half a century ago would be so sharp, so artistically compelling,
and so tragic while still containing a blistering sense of humor. In
some ways it was ahead of its time with its satire, ironically in a
film that looks to the past with a sense of sad, but honest nostalgia.
Gloria Swanson, the star of the film, plays a woman who is a star still
in her old mind, Norma Desmond. There are a handful (how big the hand
is depends on the particular viewer) of films where you have a
character or characters that are not only unforgettable, but become so
trenched in the public consciousness its hard to think of mistaking it
for anything else. Even as a kid and knew that line "I'm ready for my
close-up, Mr. DeMille" was a basic, but dead-on swipe at ego, or at
least stardom. That it was in this context makes it all the more
comic/tragic. That Sunset Boulevard also has the distinction of being
in the film-noir tradition along with having some satirical grounding
solidifies it one of the really unique films of the Golden Age of post
World War 2 America.
The story starts with our protagonist and past-tense narrator, Joe Gillis, who is a struggling B movie screenwriter in Hollywood. Fate, or maybe just odd luck, pits him into the driveway of a big, almost archaic estate that almost looks haunted to him on first sight. He meets Norma Desmond, whom he doesn't recognize as once being a big silent movie star. "I am big," she says in one of her trademark lines, "it's the pictures that have gotten small." She confides in Gillis, after he tells her who he is and why he's there (hiding out as it were), that she has a screenplay she wants DeMille to direct as her 'comeback'. He very reluctantly agrees to do it, and very soon gets sucked up into her world, becoming disconnected to his small circle of Hollywood friends. But he still has one, as a kind of secret almost, Betty Schaefer (the beautiful Nancy Olson), who is an aspiring screenwriter. One can maybe guess what might happen as this goes on, but like with Wilder's other great films, the unexpected moments and keen revelations/coincidences are the best parts; Erich von Stroheim as Max, Norma's 'butler', is surprisingly good.
I've seen Sunset Blvd. several times now, but I can't forget how much I laughed the first time around; I wondered why it was even considered in the 'film-noir' tradition (not that it didn't have its stylistic or character bearings, but compared to Double Indemnity it didn't seem as pumped up). I really took it as a kind of pioneering black comedy, with Norma Desmond as the delusional, self-fulfilling has-been. For example, when Gillis first arrives and Max and Norma bury her pet monkey- it's not just the image of the dead monkey and the reverence paid to it, but also as they bury it Gillis' wry narration. The narration in this film is another great trademark, with that kind of snappy later 40's/early 50's wit that helped move from the kind of wit that was in earlier Hollywood films. And of course there are some other absurdities that bring out a few good laughs, in particular when Norma visits DeMille in the studio, and gets suddenly by some surreal miracle all the attention she's been having in her head.
In repeated viewings, the film does show itself as darker, with a lot more thought put into the themes and real problems in the characters. Not just Norma, but also Joe, who little by little becomes more like the sneaky son of an overbearing mother than a real collaborator. The final scenes, which link up to the "end scene at the beginning", and then the sort of crazy, classic epilogue of Norma on the staircase, more of the film-noir elements come through. The 'average Joe', so to speak, in over his head; the sinister elements that are around him (more so here psychological than criminal); and of course the 'black widow' in Norma Desmong. Swanson, in what should've been her Oscar winning role, never misses a beat. Through her delusions of grandeur and overwhelming nostalgia for the old days (another great scene is when she makes him watch all her old silent films), there is also a vulnerability that doesn't make her a totally hateful character.
And through all of this is one of the best screenplays that's ever come out of the Golden Age of Hollywood. As I mentioned the narration is sharp and observant, as in a sort of Pulp-noir novel, and the dialog for the time isn't very unconvincing. The relationships, like the one between Joe and Betty, is handled gently, so that the punch that's given to the viewer at the end has more of an impact. Max, as well, is maybe even more a complex character than Norma; why stay as a butler for a woman who is almost in a time warp? Perhaps he is too. Maybe that's one, perhaps subtle, message to the film- as much as it is fascinating to look to the past, to get locked into it is something very detrimental. But the film may not have a very clear-cut message, as it is a dense film with different appeals to different people (like a Kubrick film)- it's funny, it's romantic, it's sly, and at times very weird. I can't wait to see it again.
My all-time favorite film. Towering performances by Gloria Swanson, William Holden and Erich von Stroheim along with a perfect music score by Franz Waxman and a witty, biting script by Billy Wilder. Swanson's performance may be the single best performance by an actress in any American film--bar none. It certainly ranks with the best work of Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, or Meryl Streep. Swanson's vocal subtleties, ranging from imperious to coy to crazy are amazing. Because of its performances (Holden was never better), wit and bitingly honest look at Hollywood as a microcosm for the American Dream, this film is Number 1.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sunset Boulevard represents everything that is unsaid about Hollywood.
It cruelly, yet accurately represents Hollywood in the same way that
Citizen Kane so cruelly and accurately represents the world of
Sunset waste no time. It throws us straight into the middle of what appears to be a mystery, but soon becomes a tragedy, and perhaps even an allegory of Old Hollywood meeting New Hollywood and not liking it one bit, a story of unwelcome but necessary progression.
We meet Joe Gillis (William Holden) within seconds of the opening credits. The twist? He's a dead. Shot and floating in a swimming pool - a pool that he has always wanted (perhaps even more than to be a writer). Joe then starts to narrate, telling us how he came to be in the pool. He was a down and out writer, living in a small flat with debts to pay. One day the debts catch up and he finds himself making a run for it. He winds up taking a wrong turn into the grounds of an old house. That house is owned by Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), a middle aged actress who is past her prime but refuses to accept it and move on with her life. This is where Joe's nightmare begins, as he is effectively held captive, desperate for money, by a woman who is desperate for admiration and love and who will give anything for it, and in the end do anything to prevent the illusion from collapsing on front of her.
This is where we see for the first time, that Norma could represent Old Hollywood (the past), whilst Joe could represent New Hollywood (the future).
Norma and Old Hollywood are stuck in their ways. They hate the idea of progression, hate new talent, hate anything that changes the status quo and could go on to destroy them. So they becomes desperate, they take more and more desperate measures, they lure Joe and us with false promises of greatness, they bribes us. They will even take cruel punishment if it means that we and Joe will still sit there and pay attention. Norma begs Joe to hit her, rather than to hate her, and will bribe him with everything - just like Hollywood will take the remarks of critics if it means that audiences will keep going back, or it will gives us the likes of Transformers 3, a Spiderman reboot or anything that can give the illusion that it still has the answers, the talent.
Because nothing scares Norma more than a lack of audience, and the same can be said for Hollywood.
Of course, Joe and New Hollywood, they want progression. They, like us, hate the lack of progression, hate the repetitiveness, hate the way they and we are left in the cold when we know that we can do better. Norma thinks she still has it - but Joe knows the truth. She has had her day and needs to bow out gracefully to allow progression. At the moment, Hollywood still thinks it has it. But we know the truth - cinema numbers have fallen, and Hollywood is relying too heavily on reboots, comebacks, sequels and prequels. There is nothing original. There is little to no progression.
In Sunset, the desperation in Norma turns to a jealous, uncontrollable rage that results in her essentially going mad and, SPOILER, shooting Joe dead to keep him hers and maintain her illusion that she is great. Hollywood, in desperation, doesn't shoot us dead, but does bombard us with explosions, special effects, promising adverts and violence that mask the fact that most films are no longer great, but just routine and are in desperate need of new, refreshed talent. Of course, even after all the trouble Norma causes, Joe tries hard to like her, to understand her, to make excuses, to protect her from the truth. He knows that she was a star, and at first even thinks there is a chance she could be again. And again, that can be said of us with Hollywood. We love Hollywood, not because of what it is, but because of what it once was and could be again in the right hands. We don't want to let a bright start fade. We want it to be great, so we put up with Michael Bay's Transformers, with a Spiderman reboot, with a poor remake of classics, because we hope that Hollywood will get its act together and make something bigger and better. Perhaps that final shot, where Norma reaches towards the camera, is Hollywood reaching for us in desperation?
I'm not sure whether Wilder wanted to make this a film about failed stardom, or a metaphor for Hollywood. But it is a true testament to he and the cast that we can take the film literally or metaphorically, and still still be touched by it.
Easily one of the best films of all time, right there with The Godfather or Chinatown. 10/10
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