Sunset Boulevard ★★★★½

Norma Desmond's eyes are as big as hard-boiled eggs. They pop out so much they look they they want to burst. But in so many shots of Sunset Boulevard they are at the center. I loved Gloria Swanson here, except at the end, where it feels like her breakdown is so over the top it makes for a better iconic moment rather than an actual scene. Mind you, I have scene the last shot of this film so many times in so many movie highlight reels that judging it only within the context of the rest of the movie might be an impossible task.

In fact all of Sunset Boulevard might to too difficult to judge because it took me so long to view it. First, you can only be so successful in avoiding spoilers to a very popular 64-year movie. And second I have seen so many other film-noirs from this era, that even those which are derivative of Sunset Boulevard benefit from being viewed first.

That being said Sunset Boulevard is one of the most entertaining noirs I've seen. Holden, Von Stroheim, and Swanson are all great. What truly blows my mind is how modern this movie seems, and how it must have played in 1950. Wilder made a movie that was as cynical about Hollywood as any movie around. The use of the footage from Queen Kelly, the cameos from silent film stars and Hedda Hopper, Cecil B. DeMille not just playing a plot point but an actual role, these are all great features. Sure they make the film feel like a bit of an in-joke, but in the end they make the world of sunset Boulevard Hollywood, not a movie version of Hollywood. I'm not one to encourage or even like remakes, but I would be interested to see who would be cast in a modern-day version of this.