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"Sunset Boulevard"
1950 Movie

yellow billboard for "Sunset Blvd." [1950]           

synopsis & history

the movie




           Told in flashbacks, narrated by the murder victim. Joe is an unsuccessful screenwriter who has another script rejected by the studio; fleeing the men trying to repossess his car, he hides in a garage at a Sunset Blvd. mansion; the owner is Norma Desmond, a failed star who asks Joe to help polish the script intended to ignite her comeback on the screen. The butler moves Joe's possessions into the mansion where he is essentially a 'kept man'; that is okay, but Joe is horrified to learn that Norma thinks that she is in love with him. She sends the completed script to DeMille at Paramount, then drives her rare limousine to the studio for a confrontation.
           Joe has been working with a studio secretary on another script, and the pair have fallen in love. Joe tells Norma, Norma calls the girl to bad-mouth Joe, Joe invites the girl to the mansion to see for herself. After the girl leaves, Norma shoots Joe, his body falls into the pool. By the time the police arrive, Norma is lost in fantasy; the butler persuades her that the waiting cops and news reporters are part of her new movie, so she descends the staircase and utters the famous line "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up".

History of The Film
           Days after
In 1998, the American Film Institute selected this as the 12th greatest film of the 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time.
In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #16 Greatest Movie of All Time.
electronically restored for the 2002 DVD reissue.
A new 4K high-definition scan was done in 2008 for DVD and for the film's eventual release on Blu-ray disc.

won shared Oscar for Best Original Script    Franz Waxman won Oscar for Best Music Score    won shared Oscar for Best B&W Art Direction
"Sunset  Boulevard:  A  Hollywood  Story"
[Paramount August 1950]

Co-written & co-produced by Charles Brackett; co-written & directed by Billy Wilder; co-written by D.M. Marshman Jr.; starring William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Jack Webb, Julia Faye & Henry Wilcoxon; cameos by Cecil B. DeMille, Hedda Hopper, Buster Keaton, Anna Q. Nilsson & H.B. Warner; won Oscars for Best Original Script, Best Music Score & Best B&W Art Direction, also Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor & Actress, Best B&W Cinematography & Best Editing; won W.G.A. Award; nominated for D.G.A. Award; listed on National Film Registry (1989)

film credits at Internet Movie Database
film entry at Wikipedia
watch theatrical trailer [3:14] for free at YouTube

not yet available on Blu-ray

Paramount b&w DVD [11/2008] 2 disks for $38.00
Paramount b&w DVD [11/2002] for $18.74
The 2008 DVD is a 4K high-definition scan; extras on both DVDs include "The Making of Sunset Boulevard" docufilm [2002],
"The Music of Sunset Boulevard" and "Edith Head" featurettes, photo galleries & Hollywood location map

Paramount b&w VHS [1/96] for $14.95
Paramount b&w VHS [undated] for $7.40

Sunset Blvd. script by Billy Wilder & Charles Brackett  
"Sunset Blvd." script by Billy Wilder & Charles Brackett
"the complete screenplay, with an Introduction by Jeffrey Meyers"

Univ CA Press 9x5¾ pb [6/99] for $19.95
Close-Up On Sunset Boulevard book by Sam Staggs  "Close-Up On Sunset Boulevard: Billy Wilder, Norma Desmond, and The Dark Hollywood Dream" [2002]
by Sam Staggs

St. Martin's Griffin 8x5½ pb [2/2003] for $14.01
St. Martin's Press 8¼x5½ hardcover [4/2002] out of print/used
Sunset Blvd video cover  "(The Making of) Sunset Boulevard: A Look Back"
[Paramount Video 2002]

25-minute short featuring author Ed Sikov, actress Nancy Olson, critic Andrew Sarris, producer A.C. Lyles & actress Glenn Close
available on both DVD sets above • full credits at IMDb
·            ·

Lux Radio Theater 1951 broadcast of Sunset Blvd.  "Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on September 17, 1951 with Gloria Swanson and William Holden reprising their film roles
scarce copies exist on vinyl from Sandpiper Records and on audio CD from Greenpark
Gloria Swanson in "Boulevard!" cast recording album  Gloria Swanson in "Boulevard!": The Complete Musical
Adaptation of Sunset Blvd. [1956]
Music & lyrics by Dickson Hughes & Richard Stapley

Gloria Swanson kept making demo tracks of the various songs, hoping to enlist financial backers; but Paramount refused to allow the musical to go forward (or asked too high a price), so the musical was never performed for the public.
Stage Door cast recording CD [3/2009] for $42.01
official album page

"Swanson On Sunset" [1994]
three-character musical stageplay by Dickson Hughes, based on his & Richard Stapley's experiences
in writing "Boulevard!" with Gloria Swanson in the mid-1950s
article/review in the Los Angeles Times, Dec 1994

Silent Movie Stars Lost Recordings on audio CD  "Silent Movie Stars Speak: The Lost Recordings" [2010]
order CD online from for $13.95 + s/h
NOTE: expected to go out-of-production at end of 2011
The 21 tracks include the voices of: 'Bronco Billy' Anderson; Ethel Barrymore; John Barrymore; Lionel Barrymore; Sarah Bernhardt [4:03]; Charlie Chaplin [2:47]; Jackie Coogan (with his father); Douglas Fairbanks [2:08]; Greta Garbo [3:59]; John Gilbert [4:02] displaying his rich baritone; Lillian Gish; D.W. Griffith [2:23] (with Walter Huston); William S. Hart [7:28] and the farewell speech he gave in a Prologue for the 1930s re-release of "Tumbleweeds"; Buster Keaton [5:19]; Stan Laurel [4:56]; Harold Lloyd [6:47]; Ramon Novarro; Mary Pickford; Gloria Swanson [3:30] in a haunting monologue from a live performance of "Sunset Boulevard"; Blanche Sweet; and Laurette Taylor

·            ·

"Sunset  Blvd.  The  Musical"

"Sunset Blvd." London musical [1993-??]
"Sunset Blvd." Broadway musical [1994-97]
adapted by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on the 1950 film
The musical version of the movie opened in London on July 12, 1993 and ran 1529 performances. It opened on Broadway at the Minskoff Theater on November 17, 1994, ran for 977 performances and won the 1995 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Book and Score. SUNSET BLVD. - PLAYBILL - MAY 1995 - VOL. 95 - NO. 5 by ANDREW LLOYD (MUSIC BY) DON BLACK & CHRISTOPHER HAMPTON (BOOK & LYRICS BY) WEBBER (1995) 10086 SUNSET BLVD. WORLD PREMIERE 12 JULY 1993 by ADELPHI THEATRE LONDON (1993)


director Billy Wilder [1906-2002]

Gloria Swanson [1899-1983]

William Holden [1918-81]

Erich von Stroheim [1885-1957]

'Sunset Blvd.'  Links

film credits at Internet Movie Database
film entry at Wikipedia

poster of classic final scene from
classic final scene from "Sunset Boulevard" [1950]

See also Magic Lantern Video & Book Store's
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Magic Lantern's "Sunset Blvd." 1950 Movie Page  «« you are here
"Treasure Island" Movies [1912-2010] Page
Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" Movie Page
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and also BlackHat Mystery Bookstore's 'The Thin Man' Movies Page
and BlackHat Mystery Bookstore's "The Maltese Falcon" 1941 Movie Page
and Spirit of America Bookstore's "Alice In Wonderland" Books, Stageplays & Movies Page
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