the fresh films reviews

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Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Directed by:
Billy Wilder

Film noir/Thriller

Sunset Boulevard

110 minutes

Produced by:
Charles Brackett

Written by:
Charles Brackett
Billy Wilder
D. M. Marshman Jr.

Cast includes:

Joe Gillis William Holden
Norma Desmond Gloria Swanson
Max von Mayerling Erich von Stroheim
Betty Schaefer Nancy Olson
Sheldrake, film producer Fred Clark -
Morino, Joe's agent Lloyd Gough -
Artie Green Jack Webb
New Year's Eve party guest Jack Warden -



In what was one of Hollywood's first indictments of itself, faded silent film star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) offers young, down-on-his-luck screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) the opportunity to stay with her in her lavish, antiquated mansion, where she lives in recluse, dreaming of her bygone days as one of the once budding industry's brightest stars and hoping that her latest script will give her one last taste of the fame she's incurably addicted to. Billy Wilder illuminates the flip side of celebrity and movie stardom with shrewdness and doubtless first-hand knowledge. But after 70 years of aging, Sunset Boulevard only fully works on that allegorical level. The rest of the movie, with its looming tragedy and noirish shadows, is a little too plotted and melodramatic to really resonate, despite or perhaps partly because Swanson's outlandish performance as the ageing diva. She's a ghost of the expressionist traditions she was brought up in, and she's blind to the fact that she's become a parody of her own screen-persona. As the picture revels in this parody, with sprinkles of black comedy which alas are too slight and far between, it does still create its own atmospheric realm that partly explains Joe's lunacy. Thanks to Wilder's skill and an invested William Holden, Sunset Boulevard transports you back to 1950's Hollywood and gives you a fascinating glimpse into its world of theatricality, decline and debauchery.

Copyright 02.01.2024 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang