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Sunset Blvd. (1950)

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A screenwriter is hired to rework a faded silent film star's script, only to find himself developing a dangerous relationship.

Director:

Billy Wilder
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Popularity
2,798 ( 83)
Top Rated Movies #56 | Won 3 Oscars. Another 15 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
William Holden ... Joe Gillis
Gloria Swanson ... Norma Desmond
Erich von Stroheim ... Max Von Mayerling
Nancy Olson ... Betty Schaefer
Fred Clark ... Sheldrake
Lloyd Gough ... Morino
Jack Webb ... Artie Green
Franklyn Farnum ... Undertaker
Larry J. Blake ... 1st Finance Man (as Larry Blake)
Charles Dayton Charles Dayton ... 2nd Finance Man
Cecil B. DeMille ... Cecil B. DeMille
Hedda Hopper ... Hedda Hopper
Buster Keaton ... Buster Keaton
Anna Q. Nilsson ... Anna Q. Nilsson
H.B. Warner ... H. B. Warner
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Storyline

In Hollywood of the 50's, the obscure screenplay writer Joe Gillis is not able to sell his work to the studios, is full of debts and is thinking in returning to his hometown to work in an office. While trying to escape from his creditors, he has a flat tire and parks his car in a decadent mansion in Sunset Boulevard. He meets the owner and former silent-movie star Norma Desmond, who lives alone with her butler and driver Max Von Mayerling. Norma is demented and believes she will return to the cinema industry, and is protected and isolated from the world by Max, who was her director and husband in the past and still loves her. Norma proposes Joe to move to the mansion and help her in writing a screenplay for her comeback to the cinema, and the small-time writer becomes her lover and gigolo. When Joe falls in love for the young aspirant writer Betty Schaefer, Norma becomes jealous and completely insane and her madness leads to a tragic end. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

This is it .. the most compelling dramatic story ever unfolded on the screen .. a tale of heartache and tragedy ..love and ambition .. told against the fabulous background of Hollywood. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 September 1950 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

A Can of Beans See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,752,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$5,123,000, 31 December 1950

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,303,175
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The character of Norma Desmond is modeled on the fate of several leading actresses of the silent screen. Mary Pickford lived in seclusion, away from the public eye, while both Mae Murray and Clara Bow had well documented bouts of mental illness. See more »

Goofs

When Joe returns to the mansion after having been in the rain in a vicuna coat twice, the coat shows no signs of being wet. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Joe Gillis: Yes, this is Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, California. It's about 5 o'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 Fly Me to the Moon 3D (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Auld Lang Syne
(1788) (uncredited)
Traditional Scottish 17th century music
Played by the band on New Year's Eve
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

"Madam is the greatest star of all."
4 August 1999 | by bat-5See all my reviews

Sunset Blvd. could be looked at as a thesis on what fame does to certain people. For Norma Desmond, fame created a fantasy world that forever trapped her. Living alone in that giant house on Sunset, save for her servant Max, Norma whiles away the hours planning her magnificent return. Her fame kept alive by fan letters, and her hope of return kindled by Joe Gillis. For Norma, there is no other life than standing before cameras and acting out lives of characters that are larger than life. Of course, no one knows who Norma Desmond is. Gloria Swanson gives a magnificent performance. She runs from melancholy, to unbridled joy, to complete mental breakdown. William Holden is the ultimate cynic. He plays Norma like a fiddle but gets ensnared in her web of decaying glory. In the end, Joe pays the price for enduring Norma's insanity. As she descends that staircase in the final scene, you can see that she is completely lost in her own world. A world where no one grows old, where she is forever young, and where she is the greatest star of them all. After all, stars never age.


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