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
Make-up designer Wally Westmore found that Gloria Swanson's face belied her age and wanted to make her look older. Swanson argued that a woman like Norma would have been obsessed with her appearance and would have done her utmost not to look old. Westmore and director Billy Wilder agreed with this so William Holden was made up to look older than he was. See more »
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 »
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.
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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 »
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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