Drama · Film Noir

Entry #5- Sunset Boulevard (1950)


Director: Billy Wilder

Stars: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich Von Stroheim

Quote: “There’s nothing tragic about being fifty. Not unless you’re trying to be twenty-five.”– Joe Gillis

Story/Plot Synopsis: The plot centers around Joe Gillis (William Holden), who is down on his luck and who has been unsuccessful as a screenwriter. Since Joe has been unsuccessful at his career, he cannot afford to pay some of his bills. One of the bills he needs to pay is to the finance company that finances his car. The finance company chases Joe one afternoon to take away his vehicle and Joe loses sight of the finance company on Sunset Boulevard by pulling into the driveway of a decaying mansion. Joe decides to stay at the mansion to hide and thinks that the mansion is abandoned. The mansion is actually inhabited by Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), who was a successful silent film star. Norma is close to the edge of insanity as she still feeds from the power of her former glory. Her butler, Max Von Mayerling (Erich Von Stroheim), takes care of her and keeps her happy by playing along with her illusions of fame and that she is the best. Joe doesn’t want to stay with Norma, but decides to when she offers to pay him to work on her script that Norma thinks will bring her back to prominence. Norma becomes possessive of Joe and falls in deep love with him. Norma becomes unhinged if Joe tries to leave or do anything that does not involve her. Joe meets Betty Schaefer (Nancy Olson) who is a script reader that he falls in love with after the two spend time together on a script. Norma catches wind of the two’s love affair and the movie ends in a dark, fateful matter.

Why You Should See Before You Die: Sunset Boulevard has a great story that viewers will be surprised by. Not only will viewers find surprising information about Norma, but certain things will come to light about her servant, Max, as well. The opening shot of the film is a dark one, but plays a deep role with the surprising ending that the viewers will witness. The shot is hard to forget, but I will not explain because I do not want to spoil the film for anyone. The acting is magnificent by all actors and actresses, but Gloria Swanson really shines as the crazy Norma Desmond. Swanson perfectly captures the role of a desperate star who wants to be in the spotlight again. Below is a link to a clip from Sunset Boulevard. The clip is at the beginning of the movie where a dead body is found floating in a swimming pool and the shot shows the floating body. This scene is vital to the whole film and if you view this movie make sure you remember it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HduXGYkoc_w                         (Opening scene, Floating in a pool)


3 thoughts on “Entry #5- Sunset Boulevard (1950)

  1. I haven’t seen this yet, but I love the quote! I recently had my quarter-life crisis, as I call it, and bought a new car, ha! Are you getting your minor in film? If not, you should! 😉

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