Friday, November 16, 2012

229. Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard
Directed by Billy Wilder

This is probably one of my favorite films, certainly my favorite film noir.  Everything about this movie is flawless: the directing, the acting, and the dialogue.  Add to that, this movie can be genuinely frightening, although I am sure many jaded viewers would disagree.

Gloria Swanson plays an aging silent film actress star who is determined to remain young (think What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?).  William Holden is a Johnny Everyman is a nobody who unfortunately gets wrapped up in her crazy.  The movie starts with Holden shot in the back in a swimming pool and in true film noir style, goes back and fills in the blanks with voiceovers.

When I said the movie was scary, I was not just talking about Swanson's chilling performance (although that picture above is pretty creepy).  The directing is extremely well done, making Norma Desmond's mansion look like a house of horrors complete with a creepy butler.

There is also a certain sentimental aspect that came with watching this movie for me.  Having see so many silent films in my journey, I also felt a pang that that era was over (although I did not lose my sanity over it).

Just a fantastic movie; film noir does not get better than this.  Are we done with film noir with this movie.  Here come the tears!

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

#16 in AFI's top 100.

Cecil De Mille demanded $20,000 to appear for a cameo.

Buster Keaton did a cameo.

"All right, Mr. DeMille.  I am ready for my close up," is listed as #7 in AFI's top 100 movie lines.


  1. Awesome awesome movie!
    That house is like a time machine hosted by the Adam's family. Three cheers to Gloria Swanson for returning to do this movie and Stroheim as well. Love love this movie.

  2. Good morning Amanda ..Another great one I've not joined in on. I'm delighted to read you think it as " probably one of my favorite films". I love the vocation of decay, faded glory. (I love it in some towns , often sea-side resorts that used to be magnificent, but now struggling and living on how good they used to be) So this film fulfills all those ticks. Magnificent that Swanson, Keaton, Stroheim were all prepared to ridicule themselves, even DeMille was in on this cruel depiction of how any group .. from all society downwards.. abandons their idols and moves on.
    A good, solid 5/5 or 10/10, depending on ones scale.
    Thanks to TS for getting me to remember it ..

  3. Yes thanks TS! I am watching this again soon.

  4. Hi. I came across this blog a few days ago and have been reading them one by one, starting with the 1903 A Trip to the Moon. I'm at the 1950s now, with many more to go. I don't know, there's just something captivating about the way the reviews are written. One correction I'd like to make for this particular film is that it says William Powell instead of William Holden.


    1. Thanks! I fixed it! How embarrassing...this might seriously ruin my chances with William. And thank you so much. This comment made my day:)

  5. Conceivably the best film thus far on the list