Sunset Blvd

  • PG
  • Billy Wilder (1950)
  • US
  • 105 min
Sunset Blvd
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Film Review
Reviewed By
5 out of 5

Even the title of this dark, deeply satisfying work of cinematic genius can be read as a metaphor for the Hollywood machine and the long fading twilight of once-glittering careers. Master director Billy Wilder's witty, brilliantly constructed Tinseltown satire is both canny and knowing about the film industry and those souls unfortunate, and yet willing, enough to be caught in its wheels. The stark story of former movie queen Norma Desmond, haunted by memories of her past greatness ("I am big. It's the pictures that got small"), is greatly aided by superb casting, notably of silent-movie siren Gloria Swanson, who brings a desperate, vampiric glamour to the role of Norma. William Holden (a last minute replacement for Montgomery Clift) is also excellent as doomed writer Joe Gillis, who narrates the film in flashback from the scene of his death. Savage, dark and wholly original, this is Hollywood laid bare. Re-released in a spectacular restored version in 2002, it's too good to miss.

Plot Summary

Drama starring William Holden, Gloria Swanson and Erich von Stroheim. Screenwriter Joe Gillis floats dead in the swimming pool of a neglected Hollywood mansion. Six months earlier, out of work and desperate, he'd been hired as a writer by former silent screen star Norma Desmond, who was hoping to make a triumphant comeback.

Cast and crew


Joe C Gillis
William Holden (2)
Norma Desmond
Gloria Swanson
Max Von Mayerling
Erich von Stroheim
Betty Schaefer
Nancy Olson
Fred Clark
Lloyd Gough
Artie Green
Jack Webb
Undertaker / Courtier
Franklyn Farnum
First finance man
Larry J Blake
Second finance man
Charles Drayton
Cecil B DeMille
Cecil B DeMille
Hedda Hopper
Hedda Hopper
Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton
Anna Q Nilsson
Anna Q Nilsson
HB Warner
H B Warner
Ray Evans
Ray Evans
Jay Livingston
Jay Livingston
Sidney Skolsky
Sidney Skolsky
Bernice Mosk
Bernice Mosk


Billy Wilder

Other Information

Black and White
Theatrical distributor: 
Available on video, DVD and BluRay
Released 14 Mar 2003
Certificate PG