Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
A Hollywood Story
A hack screenwriter writes a screenplay for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity.
"I am big! It's the pictures that got small!"
Masterfully snappy dialogue like only Billy Wilder and the golden age of 40's and 50's film-noir can deliver. A comeback performance from Gloria Swanson to redefine the very notion of a comeback (I still can't get over how expressive her face is). Incisive commentary on the process of filmmaking which extends to the real lives of its cast and crew (Gloria Swanson returning to film as Norma Desmond returning to film; Erich von Stroheim, the director of Gloria Swanson's early films, as Max von Mayerling, the director of Norma Desmond's early films). Prescient awareness of the critical lack of genuinely new stories two decades before anyone would use the term "postmodern" to describe literature. A truly one of a kind film.
**Part of the Best Picture Project**
What a difference several years makes after having last seen a film!
As a younger still growing lover of film, when I first watched this, I merely watched it from a superficial standpoint. I enjoyed the "behind the scenes" aspect of the film, as well as the deteriorating mental state of Swanson's Norma Desmond.
But many years later, I am able to understand who Max was played by and why it was significant, as well as the many cameos (Shit, Buster Keaton!) and references.
Then there's Wilder's direction, which comes to employ silent film technique more and more as the film goes on and Norma Desmond's mental state begins to collapse, which serves as a contrast to how much more grounded William Holden's subplot is.
This is why revisiting films is important.
Noir-November Challenge! Movie #18
The first time I became aware of the character Norma Desmond was from comedic skits on the Carol Burnett Show! See link below to reminisce right along with me..
If I hadn't joined David Toppers Noir-November movie challenge I may never had the opportunity to see one of the greatest Billy Wilder films out there! It is everything I could have ever hoped for from Film Noir film and so much more! Seriously it's all that and a bag of chips!
Gloria Swanson didn't simply bring a character alive on the big screen, she literally transformed into this bigger than life persona that is Norma Desmond! It was an extraordinary privilege to witness Gloria Swanson…
No one ever leaves a star. That's what makes one a star.
I've seen many films with the same premise as Sunset Boulevard: an aging film star down on his or her luck tries to come to terms with the loss of their youth and fame. And yet, I believe that there has never been a more biting, contemptuous, yet loving portrayal of one such star with leftover delusions of grandeur.
Norma Desmond is a silent movie star who hasn't acted in a film for twenty years. One day Joe Gillis, a writer down on his luck, arrives at her doorstep and allows himself to be drawn into the web that Norma weaves around him. Nothing bodes well for either…
Performances : 8.4/10
Story : 9.4/10
Production : 8.1
Overall : 8.63/10
Wow. I bought this on blu-ray even though I had only seen it once before and I didn't remember being overly impressed. Maybe I slept through parts of it because I don't know what I was thinking. Sunset Boulevard tells an amazing story of fame and it's effects while also beating living shit out of Hollywood with a bat. It's the definition of art imitating life, with Noma Desmond played by former silent era star Gloria Swanson. Herself not having had more than one role in almost twenty years before this film was made. Her butler/former director Max Von Mayerling (awesome name) played by Eric von Stroheim (even…
Once in a while you come across a performance in a film that not only dominates that film, but overwhelms it to the point where you wonder if they had done an edit of the finished product that only included said performance if the film would actually have been better.
Sunset Boulevard could easily have been such a picture. The magnitude of the performance of Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond can be measured in the fact that in so many ways this is not only an incredible film, but also a daring and unusual film for its time. Yet her performance as the faded Hollywood icon, left desperately clinging on to her glory days coupled with forlorn hopes for a…
A glorious film, with a brilliant Gloria Swanson performance at the core. The story is beautifully told, once the the voice over narration dies down. The film is funny in a lot of spots and Holden is good at playing a complex character with a lot of mixed desires.
I enjoyed that it was a total "insiders" movie, with appearances from DeMille, as well as many well known actors at the time. Despite it being a Hollywood in-joke film, the story of loneliness and delusion is relateable for all audiences.
You feel bad for Norma despite her being a difficult person who has not always treated people well and you feel bad for Joe, because he's just good enough, that…
My two absolute favorite directors are Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock, and it has always struck me that their careers seemed to synchronize well with each other. So, as an excuse to rewatch all of Billy Wilder’s movies and all of these Hitchcock movies in this blu-ray set, I’m rewatching anything these directors did whenever they both released a movie in the same year. And then I’m declaring a winner for each year because that’s in my power.
The seventh year of the competition: 1950.
In 1950, Hitchcock and Wilder both made a movie about an actress. And that’s where the similarities end. Really, Stage Fright makes for a great double feature with A Foreign Affair since both movies feature…
Goddamn I love this movie. Billy Wilder and his associates skewered Hollywood with this picture. Norma Desmond is super sad and creepy, just like show business can be.
"Vicious" is the first word that comes to mind upon rewatching this one.
'The Hollywood he describes in the film probably never existed, but he makes us believe it did, and he immerses us in it, like a dream.' - David Lynch
Sunset Boulevard begins like a dream with Joe Gillis' body floating in the pool of a decrepit, half-forgotten mansion. His lifeless body floats, his face aghast, and he tells us that we deserve to know the full set of facts before we read about it in the evening papers. Joe is kind enough to take us six months into the past to see how he came to have the pool he always wanted.
The set-up is perfunctory - Joe is a hack writer with a few film credits to his name…
A spine-tingling picture about absolute decline. Pitch black, insane, and pulled off with a heavy dose of glamour. A self-reflexive Hollywood story with venom to spare. Essential watching.
I loved this movie!
No one ever leaves a star. That's what makes one a star!
Compelling. Very interesting characters.
If Wilder was a woman and loved wearing diamond necklaces, Sunset would be the grand jewel.
- 12 Angry Men
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- 25th Hour
- 3 Women
- A Trip to the Moon
- The Great Train Robbery
- The Birth of a Nation
- Les Vampires
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1167. An easy way of seeing how…
- The Godfather
- Seven Samurai
- The Godfather: Part II
- 12 Angry Men
most recent update - Friday, November 22, 2014
The letterboxd crew has unveiled a new feature that allows users to…