Write descriptive essay about Sunset Blvd. movie 1950, write an essay of at least 500 words on Sunset Blvd., 5 paragraph essay on Sunset Blvd., definition essay, descriptive essay, dichotomy essay.
Sunset Blvd.
Year:
1950
Country:
USA
Genre:
Drama, Film-Noir
IMDB rating:
8.5
Director:
Billy Wilder
William Holden as Joseph C. 'Joe' Gillis
Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond
Erich von Stroheim as Max Von Mayerling
Nancy Olson as Betty Schaefer
Fred Clark as Sheldrake
Lloyd Gough as Morino
Jack Webb as Artie Green
Franklyn Farnum as Undertaker - Chimp's Funeral
Larry J. Blake as First Finance Man (as Larry Blake)
Charles Dayton as Second Finance Man
Hedda Hopper as Herself
Buster Keaton as Himself - Bridge Player
Anna Q. Nilsson as Herself - Bridge Player
H.B. Warner as Himself - Bridge Player
Storyline: The story, set in '50s Hollywood, focuses on Norma Desmond, a silent-screen goddess whose pathetic belief in her own indestructibility has turned her into a demented recluse. The crumbling Sunset Boulevard mansion where she lives with only her butler, Max who was once her director and husband has become her self-contained world. Norma dreams of a comeback to pictures and she begins a relationship with Joe Gillis, a small-time writer who becomes her lover, that will soon end with murder and total madness.
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Reviews
One of the ten best of all time!
I thought I had seen all of the important movies made during the past fifty years, but somehow I had missed Sunset Boulevard. I had seen parodies of the characters and was familiar with the story line, but I was really not prepared for this gem. Wow! When it comes to great acting, it just does not get any better. I really couldn't care less about the film's commentary on Hollywood; I watch this film to be mesmerized by Gloria Swanson. The premise of a kept man is creepy enough, but Swanson really takes this movie to another plane. If you have never seen this classic, do yourself a big favor and rent it. You will enjoy every minute. Very few movies can be called perfect, and this one may not be, but it is awfully close.
2000-09-05
DEFINITE STORY ON Hollywood BROKEN DREAMS
Billy Wilder and Charles Bracket got the definite ghost story about Hollywood broken dreams. There's something vicious about the place and, on the other hand, this movie means the end of an era: Hollywood up to 1950. That year means, in my opinion, the last curtain for the so-called dream factory. And in that dream Norma Desmond and Joe Gillis become crazy. She becomes a fiend and he a pimp. The horror is that after 1950 Hollywood would never be the same and we can say that it's the end of the modern era and the beginning of postmodernism -what with the idiocy of the 50's era-? ABEL POSADAS
2004-06-04
"Madam is the greatest star of all."
Sunset Blvd. could be looked at as a thesis on what fame does to certain people. For Norma Desmond, fame created a fantasy world that forever trapped her. Living alone in that giant house on Sunset, save for her servant Max, Norma whiles away the hours planning her magnificent return. Her fame kept alive by fan letters, and her hope of return kindled by Joe Gillis. For Norma, there is no other life than standing before cameras and acting out lives of characters that are larger than life. Of course, no one knows who Norma Desmond is. Gloria Swanson gives a magnificent performance. She runs from melancholy, to unbridled joy, to complete mental breakdown. William Holden is the ultimate cynic. He plays Norma like a fiddle but gets ensnared in her web of decaying glory. In the end, Joe pays the price for enduring Norma's insanity. As she descends that staircase in the final scene, you can see that she is completely lost in her own world. A world where no one grows old, where she is forever young, and where she is the greatest star of them all. After all, stars never age.
1999-08-04
"I'm ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille"
Rumor has it that Gloria Swanson was absolutely devastated that she didn't win the Oscar for Sunset Boulevard. 1950 was an unusually tough year for competitors, with the statuette eventually going to Judy Holiday for Born Yesterday.

Admittedly, Gloria is fantastic in this film - she's able to send up herself, while also scandalizing the business she was product of - but the acting chops must really go to William Holden, who provides the willful self-loathing thread that ties much of this noirish and twisted tale together.

Director by Billy Wilder, Sunset Boulevard represents classic movie making at its peak. Set in Los Angeles, it's a dark, twisted, cynical tale of love, deceit, and opportunism. The film is all about Hollywood behind the scenes and how screenwriters, directors, and actors will sell themselves out for fame and fortune at a moments notice.

Spiritual and emotional emptiness, and the price of fame, greed, narcissism, and ambition is at the heart of this devilishly stylistic film, with the somber mood beginning almost immediately when a dead man is found floating facedown in a swimming pool.

The man is hack screenwriter Joe Gillis (a very sexy William Holden). All we know is that Joe was at the run-down mansion of deluded former silent-film star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). Through Joe's voice over narrative it soon becomes clear that he was somehow involved with the wealthy Norma.

Down on his luck, three months behind on his rent, and with his car about to be repossessed, Joe accidentally stumbles upon Norma's faded mansion while trying to escape the police. Norma initially mistakes Joe for a coffin-maker for her deceased pet monkey, but once she figures out that he's a screenwriter, she gets him to read one of the scripts she's been working on.

Norma is an insane and faded silent-film star, who is hoping against hope to make a comeback. She's bitterly resentful of the price the "talkies" have taken on her career, so now she soaks in her own misguided and imagined greatness, in profile with the flickering projector lighting her outline in the dark.

Joe is initially hesitant to help the glamorous woman, and then asks $500 a week for his writing services. But slowly we come to realize the contract is actually the other way around. In preparing for her return comeback, Norma quickly turns Joe into a pawn - or more to the point, a slave.

Joe becomes a virtual prisoner in her rundown mansion; the moment he leaves, she slits her wrists, forcing him to come back. With minimal resistance, Joe allows himself to settle into the life of a kept man, as Norma desperately showers him with gifts and fine clothing. The house butler, Max von Meyerling (Erich von Stroheim), grimly looks on, tending to Norma's demanding whims and tolerating Joe's disruptive presence.

Joe wobbles back and forth between heedless acceptance of his strange companionship with Norma and his half-hearted pursuit of a career. He sneaks away to collaborate on a project with Betty (Nancy Olson), a Paramount script reader who is engaged to Joe's best friend. Betty is gradually falling in love with Joe, but when Norma finds out, that he's been sneaking out to meet wit her, all hell breaks loose.

The self-loathing motif is rampant throughout Sunset Boulevard. Max completely does away with his self-respect, Joe hates himself for his unwillingness to commit to a career or love, and seems to sell himself out for money and clothes almost immediately, and Betty despises herself for falling in love with Joe while she's engaged to another.

Norma, despite her haughtiness, is the most blatant case of self-disgust. When she isn't raving about her greatness, she comes across as a frightened and tortured soul – a sad and lonely woman, who is not only remarkably self-delusional, but is also trying to grasp one last chance at happiness. She thinks so little of her current 50-year-old self that she no longer acknowledges the present.

Sunset Boulevard is a must see movie for cinema buffs. There are lots of treasures to be had here, including Nancy Olson's strangely under appreciated performance as Betty, whose misguided love for Joe spirals the film to its grisly conclusion. There's also the hilarious appearance of a skinny and madly grinning Jack Webb as a happy-go-lucky assistant director, and viewers will get a kick out of the excessive exuberance that Norma displays when she towels down a hunky and hairy-chested Joe at poolside.

The funniest scene in the movie is when Norma rolls on top of Joe while he is reclining on a couch, and then does an imitation of Charlie Chaplin in order to cheer him up; the scene is an uproarious mixture of the sad, the funny, and the pathetic.

Billy Wilder's accomplished direction is full of wide shots that capture the depressing set and brave close-ups of our anti-heroes. But in the end, Sunset Boulevard stands out, as one of the finest examples of the frenzied circus of obsession, fixation, and greed that is oftentimes symbolizes Hollywood. Mike Leonard September 05.
2005-09-09
All is not as it seems in Hollywood
March 7, 2004

**** Excellent!

"Sunset Boulevard" ranks with "All About Eve" as one of the best written and best acted films of the 1950's. To me, 1950, ranks as high as the golden year of 1939 for Hollywood.

I have just seen "Sunset Boulevard" for the very first time. I was very favorably impressed. "Sunset Boulevard" is the inspiration for all other Hollywood inside story films that came after.

Gloria Swanson plays Norma Desmond who is a lonely insecure once famous silent film star living in isolation with her servant in a lavish, but neglected Hollywood mansion from the 1920's. William Holden plays the role of Joe Gillis, a down on his luck B film Hollywood writer who accidentally discovers her mansion. Erich Von Stroheim plays the loyal house servant Max Von Mayerling to Norma Desmond.

A combination film noir, satire with dark, cynical humor, "Sunset Boulevard" excels. Being narrated by a dead man is a nice dark touch. There are cameos of several famous silent film stars including Buster Keaton, who play themselves in the film. Most notably, Cecile B. DeMile plays himself, who directed Gloria Swanson (in real life) in some of her silent films.

The film has a romance substory that is done well. I believe this substory really serves as a distraction from the film's dark cynical tone.

Both "Sunset Boulevard" and "All About Eve" are two excellent films of the same year (1950). Both were nominated for Academy Awards in many categories including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Both films had similiar stories. To decide which film was the best film of 1950 was truly difficult and shows the folly of the Academy Awards. Both are excellent films (in different ways): most notably for writing and acting. "Sunset Boulevard" has the advantage of better cinematography for it's film noir, moody look and feel. "All About Eve" does have a "stagey" look and feel to it, using basic and simple cinematography. Both films excel with similiar stories, done with different tone and mood.

"Sunset Boulevard" stands the test of time as a classic film, perhaps better understood and appreciated by film buffs, nonetheless, one of Hollywood's best films.
2004-03-07
More than just about Hollywood
"Sunset Boulevard" is considered to be one of the quintessential Hollywood films. It takes a bitingly satirical look at what makes Hollywood work. However, beneath its surface it is more than just that. It's a uniquely strange look what happens to a prima donna who's fallen from her high horse.

Joe Gillis (William Holden) is a young, down on his luck Hollywood writer. He's just scraping by, trying to hide his car from repo men. He winds up in the house of Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), an aging silent film star who is working on her comeback screenplay. She gives Joe the job of fixing the screenplay, although her aim is basically to have him for company.

The characters are well formed and incredibly well acted, specifically in Joe and Norma. They are three dimensional - each has their own internal struggles and desires. Joe, on one hand, relies on Norma to keep up his good life that it has, but on the other hand wants to go out and be with the girl that he loves. Norma is stuck in the delusion, kept up by her butler Max (Erich von Stroheim), that she is still famous.

Holden and Swanson perform their parts brilliantly. Holden is the man trapped, with no way out. Swanson overacts, intentionally, saying every line with such grandiosity that she perfectly captures the way Norma feels about herself and her perceived stardom.

This movie is about a woman who was once great and has fallen. She reacts to it not with acceptance, but an unconscious denial. She, along with Max, has convinced herself that she is still a star with legions of fans. Joe keeps up the charade because of everything that he is offering her. The idea of the middle aged woman keeping the young man for company is genuinely strange, but it fits the picture that Norma is trapped in the past, and fails to move on, but rather deny it.

"Sunset Boulevard" is a brilliant movie. It works on two levels - as a satire about the hollowness of fame and Hollywood, and also as a look at what happens when one has fallen from grace. Its status as one of the greatest movies of the era is certainly well earned, and it has certainly survived the test of time.

**** out of ****
2002-05-31
Thrilling and disturbing
Ever since "Double indemnity" I've been a big fan of Billy Wilder and so I was curious to see this classic movie. "Sunset Blvd." turned out to be even more impressive.

There is something deeply haunting about this picture. Right at the beginning it leaves little doubt as to its tragic ending. And although the development of the action looks predictable there is not a single moment of dragging.

The movie is about Norma Desmond, a heroine from the silent movie area who hasn't realized that she has been long forgotten by the audience. Now she wants to make a comeback with her own movie for which she has written the script. Joe Gillis incidentally runs into her and, since he is a script writer (and young and handsome), she chooses him to polish up her script.

**MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD**

There are some remarkably chilly moments: Joe Gillis witnessing the scene of Norma Desmond's monkey's funeral or - towards the end of the movie - Max' confession to Joe that he was Norma's first wife.

Some of the movie's intensity may come from the fact that Norma Desmond is played by Gloria Swanson who was in fact a star from the old days of silent movies. Her butler Max is played by Erich von Stroheim who was director of many picture with Swanson before sound conquered the movies. Their performances give this film a lot of credibility.

All the four lead characters received well deserved academy award nominations for their performances. Holden plays Gillis effectively in a cool and reserved manner which contrasts very well with Gloria Swanson. Von Stroheim is playing her butler Max and his devotedness to Norma is touching and makes the audience sympathetic both with him and his master.

The movie ends with a memorable scene where Norma descends the stairs with all her grandezza after she has shot Gillis with a revolver. She doesn't realize that this would be her last appearance in front of a camera. Often when movies have a sad ending, they become corny. Not this one. Wilder treats Desmond with the utmost respect throughout this movie.
2004-03-28
very special look at Hollywood
Not a romanticised view of Tinseltown at all, this Billy Wilder movie was more or less ignored on release - the year that All About Eve took all the awards and the kudos. It is a bitter pill to swallow since it takes a kick at Hollywood's guts and has one of the bleakest endings in the whole of cinema.

Joe Gillis, a struggling writer, finds himself in the drive of a Hollywood palazzo when he wants somewhere to hide his car. The house belongs to Norma Desmond, who 'used to be big' in pictures, and Joe gets drawn to Norma and drawn into her weird world of flickering shadows.

The acting honours in this movie go squarely to Gloria Swanson, herself a 'star of yesteryear' as Norma, who is superb as the actress living in the past. Not that she plays Norma as exclusively tragic(the scene where she impersonates Chaplin is priceless) but perhaps no one could get to grips with the demands of this part better. William Holden plays Joe, his breakthrough role, and he does the part very well, while Erich von Stroheim plays faded Hollywood director Max von Mayerling (naturally a reflection of himself), and newcomer Nancy Olson plays Betty, a girl too nice to become submerged just yet in dreamland's poison.

The script is its moments of OTT-ness, but it is never less than interesting and draws in the viewer to the point when you are with Norma when she visits her old studio and talks of the joy of coming home; you are with Joe and Nancy as they fall in love among the cardboard settings of movie sets; and you are in the hall with Hedda Hopper watching Norma's last descent into madness.

The musical version which appeared in the 1990s had the heart and soul of this movie in mind, and was an excellent tribute to it.
2004-03-21
A very brave look at Hollywood when Hollywood was bullied by an absurd censorship.
Usually, Cinema is considered as the most delicate form of art because it has the biggest potential to become 'dated' one day. Once a movie thought as 'mind-blowing' can easily become a 'turkey' a decade later.

This is not the case here. Sunset Boulevard still remains as one of the most eerie film in the cinema history and still a realistic depiction because of its reflection of Hollywood. It can give you the idea of the dream land's transformation into a nightmare.

The film is about a troubled script writer 'Joe Gillis and a forgotten silent film star Norma Desmond's weird relationship and the madness that surrounds them and the people around them. Don't wanna give much of the plot, on account the fact that it is a pure gem that should be invented without knowing nothing. But I can talk about the cinematic aspects of this movie.

This movie has some very eerie moments because of using a great cinematography. The moments of burying the dead monkey and watching the old film of Norma Desmond are exquisitely presented. The movie has some one of the most innovative scripts of cinema and that is certainly justified by the unforgetable and memorable lines captured from the film. The directing is top-notch but who are we kidding it is Billy 'the great' Wilder. The end of the movie is one of the most chilling part of the movie and it can truly give you some nightmares about insanity. The narration of the movie by the head character was probably done by this movie at the first place and this influenced so many movies afterwards.

One of the reasons that this movie is still not dated is because of its courage. The Hayes code was at its peak at the beginning of fifties which manipulates the producers to limit their bad thoughts on one subject, especially on Hollywood. The movie got 11 oscar nomination but only got 3 of them. Apparently, the reason was its harsh criticism on Hollywood.

There are some arguements about Sunset Boulevard's genre. It is considered as the greatest film-noir of all time. I don't think it is a film-noir at all. For some aspects, the movie has some noirish elements such as the black and white German-expressionist cinematography and an 'on the edge of insanity', femme-fatale but these two are not enough to make a film-noir. I think this is a psyhcological drama with some horror(the end is horrifying for me) and with some very very dark comedy.

Overall, This is truly a classic and one of the best movies of cinema history that will never lose its effects on cinema. Heavily influences American Beauty and Mulholland Drive, also making those movies a must see. 10/10
2003-08-02
Wilder's masterpiece: A vintage look at a Hollywood that is no more.
From the very beginning of this film, with the external shot of the corpse floating in the outdoor pool, the audience gets sucked in. Sunset Boulevard is a fantastic example of artistry gone horribly wrong and selling yourself out for the betterment of yourself. All four main characters, Norma, Joe, Max and Betty are definite characterizations of four different types of person in Hollywood. Norma is of course the faded silent screen star so desperate upon making a comeback that in essence it just kills her and everyone around her. Joe is the down and out, very desperate screenwriter who stumbles upon Norma and falls head first under her spell. By the time he gets sucked into her web, it is almost madness as to why he cannot extricate himself from her grip. Max is the humble butler, who unlike so many other people has come crawling back to Norma because he simply cannot live without her. So, in essence he takes a menial job just to continue to stay with her in one form or another. Betty is the one ray of sunlight in an otherwise dark and foreboding world that threatens to crush anyone that gets ensnared in it for too long (i. e. the Hollywood system). But even so, her light is almost snuffed out towards the end of the film. We never really get to see what happens to her afterwards.

I think what makes this film so great is its ability to wear its heart upon its sleeve. It is an unflinching portrait of what Hollywood once was (and is no longer) but some of the vestiges from this film can still be seen today. The bitterness and the knife-edge cynicism (not to mention the acting) is what, I think, draws so many people back to it for repeated viewings, myself included. For even if we've seen this film before, we can always see it again and pick up on certain things that we never noticed the first time around. For example, the home that the filmmakers used as Norma's mansion was also used a few years later in Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without A Cause.

Gloria Swanson gives a heart-rending performance as Norma Desmond, the silent screen star so desperate to make a comeback. This film was sort of a "comeback" for her, having been out of the public eye since the early thirties. She albeit succeeded but however, she failed to win the coveted Best Actress award at the Oscars that year (1951). The prize even eluded both Bette Davis and Anne Baxter from All About Eve and went to newcomer Judy Holliday as ditzy blonde Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday. Frankly, putting both Swanson and Davis in the same category, I have to say that Bette Davis did actually give the better performance that year, but Swanson's Norma is still a character and a force to be reckoned with!

Sunset Boulevard lost out to All About Eve, the Hollywood masterpiece about the Broadway stage, at the Oscars that year. Hollywood wasn't ready to award itself because some people didn't care for the way that the film was portraying itself (showing the dark, seamy side). I, however, still love this film and will always love this film because I think it shows Wilder at his most perfect, most distinctive period in his life.

This is a true classic. Get this one on DVD as soon as you can!

My rating: 4 stars.
2003-02-11
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