← Back to Reviews

Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Blvd.
Director: Billy Wilder
Writers: Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder
Cast: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim
Genre: Film Noir, Drama Satire
Length: 110 minutes

A dead body floating face down in a swimming pool, that's how the movie starts.
Joe Gillis is dead, but why?

A second rate Hollywood script writer, Joe Gillis (Bill Holden), hides out in a run down mansion. He's on the lamb from some outstanding bills he owes. He hides his car in the mansion's garage so it won't be repossessed....BIG mistake for Joe...That's where he meets an aging silent film star, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). Norma Desmond was once a big star in silent pictures, but her career ended with the coming of sound films. Norma is eccentric, even delusional. She's hold up in her prison like mansion with her faded dreams.

She's in complete denial and believe her fans still love her, they don't. She hires Joe Gillis after he brags about how good of a writer he is. She pays him handsomely to write her big come back movie, that she believes will return her to stardom. But Gillis is just using Norma's love and her money for his own greedy ends....And Norma is not someone to take rejection lightly!

Norma Desmond is a caricature of a silent screen actress. The film's story line is a nod to the 'over the top' films that were made in the silent era. Gloria Swanson plays the role to the hilt. She's a real talent and long after her own silent movie career ended, she proves she still has star power.

Gloria Swanson really gets into character with contorted facial and hand postures. And that crazy cigarette ring suits her to a tee.

Gloria attacks her role, with an almost vampire look in her eyes. She's gaudy with an ego to match..."I am big! It's the pictures that got small." Norman Desmond...That famous line from the movie says it all.

Gloria Swanson was nominated by the Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role.Over all this film had a whopping 11 Oscar nominations and won 3 Oscars.

Bill Holden
also picked up a nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Bill Holden is perfect as the likeable but somewhat sleezy screen writer, who knows better but can't help using Norma Desmond for her money. He's broke and she's loaded, and spells trouble.

One of the most memorable scenes (and there's a lot of them) was the New Years Eve Party. Expecting a big lavish party with many guest, Joe Gillis is stunned to find out the party is only for him and Norma. This scene really speaks to the loneliness and isolation of Norma's life.

Sunset Boulevard is one helluva movie!