Writer: Charles Breackett, Billy Wilder, D M Marshman Jr (Screenplay)
Starring: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Strohei, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough
Plot: A screenwriter is hired to rework a faded silent film star’s script, only to find himself developing a dangerous relationship.
Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: True Classic
Story: Sunset Boulevard starts as we meet screenwriter Joe Gills (Holden), he is in debt and desperate to find his next job, with the studios rejecting his latest pitches, when on the run from the debt collectors, Joe stumbles into what looks like an abandoned mansion, whose owner Norma Desmond (Swanson) a once star of silent movies.
Joe gets invited to stay with Norma to help touch off her script as she is planning to make her own comeback only the longer he stays the more obsessive she becomes and Joe ends up trapped in the world, being questioned after ever outing from the house.
Thoughts on Sunset Boulevard
Characters – Joe Gills is an ambitious screenwriter in Hollywood, he spends more than he earns which leads him to be on the run from the mob to whom he owes money, he knows how to make a deal when it comes to make sure that he can keep funding a lifestyle he can’t afford to bring he name to the top of the industry. Norma Desmond was a huge name in silent movies who lives in a mansion in Sunset Boulevard, she has a script she thinks will bring back her fame and uses Joe to get it complete, while treating everyone like they owe her for their place in Hollywood, for a jilted former star this is who we have here. Max is the housekeeper that is the only other member of the house that keeps everything in order, his loyalty can’t be questioned and he does have a secret about who he is to Norma.
Performances – The performances from William Holden and Gloria Swanson are fantastic and you can see why people believe they are two of the best of all time. The rest of the cast are great throughout.
Story – The story here follows the screenwriter that is in hiding from the mob to whom he owes money to, he meets faded Hollywood start which gives us an example of a former Hollywood star that has lost their fame and will do anything to regain their reputation. The story uses ideas we wouldn’t have normally seen at the time and have given ideas to many films to come since, this is one story film that uses the idea of starting with the end which tells us just what will happen too.
Settings – The Hollywood setting helps this movie feel like something before its time having the wink to the idea of where the films will take place.
Final Thoughts – This is a classic film that any film scholar should be seeing, it clearly guided the ideas for future movies that we know now.
Overall: The classic people know.