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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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2,849 ( 87)
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:

A HOLLYWOOD STORY: Sensational...Daring...Unforgettable...Sunset Blvd. 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 photos of the young Norma Desmond that decorate the house are all genuine publicity photos from Gloria Swanson's heyday. See more »

Goofs

When Norma's car is pulling up to Studio 18, you can see that the driver is clearly not Max as Erich von Stroheim did not drive. Furthermore, the uniforms are quite different. 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

Spoofed in And the Winner Isn't (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor, BWV 565
(ca 1705) (uncredited)
Music by Johann Sebastian Bach
Played on an organ by Erich von Stroheim
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Reel Life Gothic
16 September 2001 | by tostinatiSee all my reviews

Every time I go to L.A., which isn't too often, I look at these palm-bemused, once smart stucco facades, and wonder if a Norma Desmond from a later era might be hiding from the world inside them, buttressed by cable TV (AMC or TCM, no doubt), a poodle named FiFi or Sir Francis, walk-in closets full of leopard-print Capri pants that haven't fit in decades, and a world class liquor cabinet that has seen heads of state under the table on a good night. It is because of Sunset Blvd., for certain, that my mind could ever go there. It is one of the most indelible films you will ever see.

This film is great for many reasons, not the least of which is because it is Hollywood's first look back at itself. In the milieu of this film, the silent era is only 22 years behind us. The people left behind by the rush to sound can still palpably TASTE the fame, the accolade, that particular past being not so very dim and distant. The sadness of their lives was real, and at that point in history, all around, if hidden. Way more has been made of the supposed "savagery" of this film vis a vis the faded star than I think exists now, or ever did. The often cynical Wilder is deeply in touch with the tragic here, as much as the grotesque.


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