Robert Montgomery Presents: Season 8, Episode 13

Sunset Boulevard (3 Dec. 1956)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama
7.1
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In this adaptation of the 1950 film, an opportunist writer grudgingly plays love interest to delusional silent film star Nora Desmond. In her fantasy world she's still the world's biggest ... See full summary »

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Title: Sunset Boulevard (03 Dec 1956)

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Himself - Host
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Walter Kohler
John Griggs
Carl Low
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Storyline

In this adaptation of the 1950 film, an opportunist writer grudgingly plays love interest to delusional silent film star Nora Desmond. In her fantasy world she's still the world's biggest star and throngs of adoring fans are awaiting her big comeback. Written by Jay Phelps <jaynashvil@aol.com>

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Drama

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3 December 1956 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Interesting Television Adaptation
27 October 2014 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

ROBERT MONTYGOMERY PRESENTS – Sunset Boulevard – 1956

This is the 293rd episode of the anthology series, ROBERT MONTGOMERY PRESENTS. This series ran for 321 episodes between 1950 and 1957. The series was a ratings winner and boasted guest appearances by many Hollywood types. Among these were, Grace Kelly, Eddie Albert, Jack Lemmon, Angela Lansbury, James Cagney, Vincent Price, David Niven and Roger Moore.

This episode is an adaptation of the 1950 movie hit, SUNSET BLVD. The earlier film starred Gloria Swanson, William Holden, Nancy Olson and Erich Von Stroheim. In this television version, the roles are now played by Mary Astor, Darren McGavin, Gloria DeHaven and Walter Kohler.

The story starts out like the film, with a body floating in a pool as the Police try to fish it out. Then we go into flashback mode to explain how the body got there.

Darren McGavin is a down on his luck Hollywood screenwriter trying to stay one step ahead of his creditors. While trying to evade some men out to repossess his car, McGavin blows a tire and pulls off the road onto a rundown Hollywood estate.

He figures the place is abandoned and hides his car in the garage. He is taking a stroll around the grounds, when he is surprised by a man exiting the mansion. The fellow, Fred Kohler, invites him inside. McGavin begins to explain about his car, but the Kohler insists he enter the house. Inside he finds a woman, Mary Astor, going on about a coffin for her dead monkey. McGavin again tries to explain his presence on the property. Kohler is the man servant of Miss Astor.

McGavin now recognizes Astor as the big time silent film star, Norma Desmond. McGavin is soon in a talk about old time films etc with the woman. He mentions that he is in the business as a screenwriter. Astor shows McGavin a huge stack of hand written notes. It is a screenplay that Astor has written. Would McGavin read it and tidy it up.

This he does and soon decides it is an unfilmable mish-mash. He of course tells Astor it is decent, but needs to be trimmed a bit. Astor offers him a job and a place to stay while he works on the script. McGavin accepts.

McGavin is soon a kept man as Astor buys him suits, fancy watches and gold cigarette cases. The slightly mad Astor is a also a tad on the possessive side, and this soon grates on McGavin's nerves. It is New Year's Eve and McGavin decides he needs a night on the town. He hits a party where he runs into fellow writer, Gloria DeHaven. They hit it off and McGavin decides he wants out of Astor's grip.

He calls the mansion to have Kohler pack his bags. Kohler informs McGavin that Astor has attempted to kill herself. It seems that Astor has fallen for McGavin and is afraid he is leaving her. Back to the mansion he goes. Soon everything is running the way Astor wants.

Astor has Kohler take her massive script to drop off at Paramount Studios. She gets a call several days later from the studio. Astor figures it is about her screenplay. The call is really about the studio wanting to rent her classic Italian limousine for a Bing Crosby film.

Miss DeHaven now comes looking for McGavin because she wants him to co-write a script with her. McGavin blows her off explaining that he is quite happy as the toy of the wealthy Astor. McGavin however has had enough, he gives back all the suits and expensive gifts, packs his bag and heads out.

Astor is not the least amused with this idea of McGavin's. She pulls out a handy revolver and plugs McGavin as he exits. McGavin collapses and falls into the pool. The Police are called and the now completely loonie Astor is lead away as she calls for another close-up.

Given the constraints of being a live presentation, this is a decent stab at compressing the story down to an hour runtime. They skip all the outdoor scenes of the big screen production, and keep the cast down to the basic four leads. Not the best live television work I've seen, but quite watchable. It was rather interesting to see Mary Astor doing the Gloria Swanson bit.

The director of the episode was Ted Danielwiski.


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