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Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Trailer
3:14 | Trailer
A screenwriter develops a dangerous relationship with a faded film star determined to make a triumphant return.

Director:

Billy Wilder
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Popularity
2,747 ( 144)
Top Rated Movies #66 | Won 3 Oscars. Another 15 wins & 19 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)

Opening Weekend USA:

$169,067, 13 May 2018

Gross USA:

$299,645

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$299,645
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
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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 California license plate on Gillis' Plymouth, 4D R 116, appears to be a legal and current registration for 1949. See more »

Goofs

When Joe is sneaking out to work at the studio with Betty, he pulled the Isotta Fraschini out of the garage forward. When he came back, he also pulled it in the garage forward leaving proof that he was taking the car. 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 »


Soundtracks

Sobre las Olas (Over the Waves)
(1887) (uncredited)
Written by Juventino Rosas
Hummed by Gloria Swanson
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Hollywood & Sunset
30 October 2001 | by telegonusSee all my reviews

Widely heralded as a classic upon its initial release, the Billy Wilder-Charles Brackett production, Sunset Boulevard, is a superb piece of work in nearly all departments; and yet at some levels it disappoints upon repeated viewings. This is not an easy movie to love. The people in it are unsympathetic, as the leading male character is a hack screenwriter turned gigolo; and the woman he lives with is a mad former silent movie star who pins all her hopes on this third-rate writer's ability to write her 'comeback' picture. Neither is an amiable sort, but he is at least sane; and though he has an understanding of decency, he never quite achieves it. His goal is success. That he decieves two women who care for him deeply bothers him from time to time, when it is an inconvenience, but doesn't otherwise seem to bedevil him or prey on his thoughts.

As a cynical picture of postwar Hollywood the movie is flawless. It captures the moment when the the studio system was at its absolute peak as well as at the start of its decline. The secondary characters are more likeable than the major ones, notably Erich von Stroheim's butler. Yet the film is not a satisfying portrait of mental illness, as the insane Norma Desmond, while superficially credible, has no inner life, or even a hint of one, as her demons appear to come more from her neglect by others than anything to do with herself. Her gigolo, Joe Gillis, is believable as a hustler but seems, in his narration and occasional asides, to be brighter and wittier than his behavior suggests. The characters, in other words, go through their motions, as the plot dictates; and while they are very interesting in what they do or fail at, they seem to have no life outside of the story. This is a movie about Hollywood rather than people; an immoral 'moral tale', it sometimes leaves a bad taste.

For all its flaws, though, the movie works like a charm even when it is not itself charming. As Norma Desmond, Gloria Swanson is magnificent, larger than life, and every inch the former silent movie queen she plays in the picture. Her final scene is priceless, and the best shot in the movie. William Holden made a new career for himself thanks to Sunset Boulevard. For over a decade he had been playing rather bland, boy next door types, and his work here was a revelation. Joe Gillis was his best performance thus far, and made Holden overnight a hot property, and shortly thereafter the biggest male star in the business. His dry, almost affectless Midwestern delivery of dialogue and, especially, narration; his mixture of good manners and ambivilant morals; and his ability to command the screen with a flicker of expression, put him immediately into the major leagues. Sunset Boulevard does not in the end tell us more about Hollywood than the Selznick-Wellman A Star Is Born, but it does its job better, with pungent dialogue, brilliant acting and a sense of style rare in movies of the time and unheard of today.


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