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Sunset Boulevard DVD Cover

A Noir-Comic Classic Presentation
at Friday Night Movies:

Sunset Boulevard

Friday the 2nd of March
Pot luck supper @ 7pm, Cartoons/Movie @ 8pm

All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up.
--Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson)


USA: 1950 -- Directed by Billy Wilder
Written by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder & D.M. Marshman Jr.
Starring William Holden, Gloria Swanson and Erich von Stroheim

I *am* big. It's the *pictures* that got small.
--Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond

Billy Wilder's noir-comic classic about death and decay in Hollywood remains as pungent as ever in its power to provoke shock, laughter, and gasps of astonishment. Joe Gillis (William Holden), a broke and cynical young screenwriter, is attempting to ditch a pair of repo men late one afternoon when he pulls off L.A.'s storied Sunset Boulevard and into the driveway of a seedy mansion belonging to Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), a forgotten silent movie luminary whose brilliant acting career withered with the coming of talkies. The demented old movie queen lives in the past, assisted by her devoted (but intimidating) butler, Max (played by Erich von Stroheim, the legendary director of Greed and Swanson's own lost epic, Queen Kelly). Norma dreams of making a comeback in a remake of Salome to be directed by her old colleague Cecil B. DeMille (as himself), and Joe becomes her literary and romantic gigolo. Sunset Blvd. is one of those great movies that has become a part of popular culture (the line "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up," has entered the language)--but it's no relic. Wow, does it ever hold up. --Jim Emerson

Hope to see you there. I'll save you an aisle seat and a ride in my 1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8B Viggo Jensen Cabriolet d'Orsay.

Ready for my closeup Betty Schaefer (Nancy Olsen) and Joe Gillis (William Holden)


Won Oscars for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Musical Score, Best Screenplay

Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor: William Holden, Best Actress: Gloria Swanson, Best Supporting Actor: Erich von Stroheim, Best Supporting Actress: Nancy Olson, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White

Ranks #30 on the Internet Movie Database's Top 250 Movies

More awards

Memorable Quotes

Joe Gillis: The poor dope - he always wanted a pool. Well, in the end, he got himself a pool.

Joe Gillis: I didn't know you were planning a comeback. Norma Desmond: I hate that word. It's a return.

Max Von Mayerling: She was the greatest of them all. You wouldn't know, you're too young. In one week she received 17,000 fan letters. Men bribed her hairdresser to get a lock of her hair. There was a maharajah who came all the way from India to beg one of her silk stockings. Later he strangled himself with it!

Norma Desmond: We didn't need dialogue. We had faces!

Norma Desmond: And I promise you I'll never desert you again because after Salome we'll make another picture and another picture. You see, this is my life! It always will be! Nothing else! Just us, the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark!

More quotes


The role of Norma Desmond was initially offered to Mae West (who rejected the part), Mary Pickford (who demanded too much project control), and Pola Negri (who, like Mae West, turned it down) before being accepted by Gloria Swanson.

Montgomery Clift, signed to play the part of Joe Gillis, broke his contract just two weeks prior to the start of shooting. Billy Wilder quickly offered the role to Fred MacMurray; he said "no." William Holden was also not interested in the part; however, being only a contract player at Paramount, he was ordered to play Joe Gillis.

The "Desmond mansion" had been built by a William Jenkins in 1924 at a cost of $250,000. Its second owner was J. Paul Getty who purchased it for his second wife. Mrs. Getty divorced her millionaire husband and received custody of the house; it was she who rented it to Paramount for the filming.

The movie that Joe and Norma watch in the private screening room is Queen Kelly (1929) starring Gloria Swanson. It was directed by Erich von Stroheim who plays Max.

The script planned by Joe and Betty (the story of a couple, which is never together because of jobs with incompatible working time) exists: it was written by Billy Wilder and filmed in Germany: Das Blaue vom Himmel (1932).

Look for cameos from famous movie personalities playing themselves: Cecil B. DeMille, Buster Keaton, H.B. Warner, Hedda Hopper

More trivia


At the New Year's Eve party, a piano can be clearly heard playing, and yet there is no piano in the orchestra. There is an accordion, which conversely cannot be heard

In the scene where Joe is initially examining the scripts, Norma is shown with a very short cigarette butt; the camera pans to Joe and then back to Norma, whose cigarette is now (seconds later) significantly longer.

As the policemen run towards the pool, you can see the dead man's head lift up out of the water.

More goofs