Directed by Billy Wilder and written by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and DM Marshman Jr., Sunset Blvd is a classic film that intrigues viewers even today with its story of an actress whose glory days were in the silent screen era and who wants to finish her career in the 1950s with a “comeback movie”.
William Holden is Joe Gillis, a down-on-his-luck screenwriter who regularly hides his car from the repo men. He’s three months late paying his rent, but Gillis is hopeful that his next story will be a winner. However, the reader at Paramont Pictures says the story isn’t worth anything. No one will hire him, except one woman. Norma Desmond, a has-been movie star.
Norma finds Gillis on her property and persuades him to stay and work on her screenplay. She pays his back-rent and buys him decent clothes. She takes Gillis around in her expensive chauffeur-driven car. Things are looking good for him financially. But he doesn’t want to stay there with this older woman who has fallen for him. He tries to leave, but Norma’s desperation and depression makes him pity her and stay there at her mansion, which, like her career, is a crumbling shadow of its former glory.
Gloria Swanson hadn’t released a film for nine years before this one. She was quite good as Norma Desmond. The man who used to direct Norma in her early years, Max Von Mayerling, was played by Erich von Stoheim, who directed Gloria Swanson in 1929.
Jack Webb had a small role as Gillis’s best friend and fiancé of Miss Schaefer, the Paramount reader who trashed his screenplay. Miss Schaefer was played by Nancy Olson. Later, she was in the same movie with Gloria Swanson when they both appeared in Airport 1975. Edith Head did costumes for Sunset Blvd and for Airport 1975.
Asking Cecil B. DeMille, Hedda Hopper, Buster Keaton, H.B. Warner, and a few others to appear as themselves in Sunset Blvd gave them another opportunity to be in a popular movie’s list of cast members and gave this movie some sparkle.
This movie won three Academy Awards: Best Art Direction/Set Decoration for a Black and White, Best Music/Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, Best Writing of Story and Screenplay.