Sunset Boulevard Overview:

Sunset Boulevard (1950) was a Drama - Film Noir Film directed by Billy Wilder and produced by Charles Brackett.


Wilder's acid-etched portrait of Hollywood must be placed at the top of any classic-movie fan's required-viewing list. From the macabre opening scene, which establishes the film's narrator as a dead man, through Swanson's final, sweeping exit, there is not a frame or line out of place. B-movie screenwriter Holden floats facedown in a pool as he begins the story of his demise. Ditching his about-to-be-repossessed car in a Hollywood mansion's driveway, Holden wanders the premises until he's mistaken for the undertaker meant to preside at a funeral for aging silent-film queen Swanson's pet monkey. When she discovers that Holden is instead a screenwriter, Swanson envelops him in a web of gifts, flattery, money, and curiosity that makes Holden the monkey's stand-in. Holden continues to feed Swanson's delusions, aided by her faithful butler-former director-former husband von Stroheim, until he can't find a way out - even when studio script reader Olson offers him her heart and help with a screenplay. Out of many resonant moments, the highlights include the weekly card game with silent-era stars Keaton, Anna O. Nilsson, and H. B. Warner; Swanson's viewings of her own performance in Queen Kelly, a disastrous silent picture actually directed by von Stroheim; and Swanson's slow march down the grand staircase, fully lost in her past, as her eloquent face portrays all the elation and fear that lead to the film's last line, "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up now."

(Source: available at Amazon AMC Classic Movie Companion).


Sunset Boulevard was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1989.

Academy Awards 1950 --- Ceremony Number 23 (source: AMPAS)

Best ActorWilliam HoldenNominated
Best Supporting ActorErich von StroheimNominated
Best ActressGloria SwansonNominated
Best Supporting ActressNancy OlsonNominated
Best Art DirectionArt Direction: Hans Dreier, John Meehan; Set Decoration: Sam Comer, Ray MoyerWon
Best CinematographyJohn F. SeitzNominated
Best DirectorBilly WilderNominated
Best Film EditingArthur Schmidt, Doane HarrisonNominated
Best Music - ScoringFranz WaxmanWon
Best PictureParamountNominated
Best WritingCharles Brackett, Billy Wilder, D. M. Marshman, Jr.Won

BlogHub Articles:

William Holden and Gloria Swanson are prisoners of Sunset Boulevard

By Stephen Reginald on Nov 7, 2023 From Classic Movie Man

William Holden and Gloria Swanson are prisoners of Sunset Boulevard Sunset Boulevard (1950) is an American film noir directed by Billy Wilder and starring William Holden, Gloria Swanson, and Eric von Stroheim. The screenplay was written by Charles Brackett, Wilder, and D. M. Marshman Jr. The su... Read full article

Sunset Boulevard (1950, Billy Wilder)

By Andrew Wickliffe on Jun 15, 2018 From The Stop Button

The third act of Sunset Boulevard just gets darker and darker. The film digs down into one level, then finds another, then another, then maybe even another. Director Wilder and co-writers Charles Brackett and D.M. Marshman Jr. find a way to fully condemn the film?s setting?Hollywood, with Paramount ... Read full article

Win Tickets to see “TCM Big Screen Classics: Sunset Boulevard” (Giveaway runs through April 28)

By Aurora Bugallo on Apr 6, 2018 From Classic Movie Hub Blog

Win tickets to see “Sunset Boulevard” on the big screen! In Select Cinemas Nationwide Sun May 13 and Wed May 16! “They took the idols and smashed them, the Fairbankses, the Gilberts, the Valentinos! And who’ve we got now? Some nobodies!” CMH continues into our?3rd year ... Read full article

1001 Classic Movies: Sunset Boulevard

By Amanda Garrett on Jan 16, 2017 From Old Hollywood Films

Sunset Boulevard (1950), starring William Holden, Gloria Swanson, and Erich von Stroheim, is one of the 1001 classic movies you should see. Each Monday, I'm going to recommend a classic movie you should see (for the reasons behind the 1001 series and reviews of earlier films covered go here). Jan... Read full article

Sunset Boulevard: But What about the Monkey?

By FlickChick on Sep 9, 2016 From A Person in the Dark

No, I don't think he committed suicide..... I can’t help it. I want to know more about Norma Desmond’s monkey. Monkey, we hardly knew you..... Oh sure, we know he’s dead, and that he serves as the plot device to get Joe Gillis into Norma’s cage, but, really, who was he?... Read full article

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Quotes from

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

Norma Desmond: You're a writer, you said.
Joe Gillis: Why?
Norma Desmond: Are you or aren't you?
Joe Gillis: That's what it says on my Guild card.
Norma Desmond: And you have written pictures, haven't you?
Joe Gillis: I sure have. Want a list of my credits?
Norma Desmond: I want to ask you something. Come in here.
Joe Gillis: Last one I wrote was about Okies in the Dust Bowl. You'd never know because when it reached the screen, the whole thing played on a torpedo boat.

Joe Gillis: You're Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big.
Norma Desmond: I *am* big. It's the *pictures* that got small.

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Facts about

Set non-holiday all time house record of $166,000 at Radio City Music Hall when it opened.
Cecil B. DeMille had a pet name for Gloria Swanson - "Young Fellow" - because he said she was braver than any man. Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder retained the term of endearment for the scene in which DeMille greets Norma Desmond at the door of the soundstage.
Paramount were more than happy to be the subject of the film, and didn't ask for the studio to be disguised. In fact, such was the buzz about the film during production that the viewing of the daily rushes became one of the hottest tickets on the lot.
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Best Writing Oscar 1950

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National Film Registry

Sunset Boulevard

Released 1950
Inducted 1989

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Also directed by Billy Wilder

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Also produced by Charles Brackett

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Also released in 1950

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