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Sunset Boulevard (1950)

tomatometer

98

Average Rating: 9.3/10
Reviews Counted: 57
Fresh: 56 | Rotten: 1

Arguably the greatest movie about Hollywood, Billy Wilder's masterpiece Sunset Boulevard is a tremendously entertaining combination of noir, black comedy, and character study.

100

Average Rating: 8.2/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 0

Arguably the greatest movie about Hollywood, Billy Wilder's masterpiece Sunset Boulevard is a tremendously entertaining combination of noir, black comedy, and character study.

audience

95

liked it
Average Rating: 4.3/5
User Ratings: 50,068

My Rating

Movie Info

Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard ranks among the most scathing satires of Hollywood and the cruel fickleness of movie fandom. The story begins at the end as the body of Joe Gillis (William Holden) is fished out of a Hollywood swimming pool. From The Great Beyond, Joe details the circumstances of his untimely demise (originally, the film contained a lengthy prologue wherein the late Mr. Gillis told his tale to his fellow corpses in the city morgue, but this elicited such laughter during the

Unrated,

Drama, Classics

Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder

Nov 26, 2002

Paramount Pictures

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Cast

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All Critics (59) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (56) | Rotten (1) | DVD (28)

A tour de force for Swanson and one of Wilder's better efforts.

August 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

...They rate a nod for daring, as well as credit for an all-around filmmaking job that, disregarding the unpleasant subject matter, is a standout.

June 28, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of Wilder's finest, and certainly the blackest of all Hollywood's scab-scratching accounts of itself.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Still the best Hollywood movie ever made about Hollywood.

September 29, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What's not recognized enough is the indelible, self-sickened performance of William Holden as Desmond's boy-toy/hired hack.

July 29, 2003 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is the greatest film about Hollywood ever put on celluloid by Hollywood.

April 3, 2003 Full Review Source: ReelViews
ReelViews
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Billy Wilder's deft weaving of gothic elements, not the least of which is Nora's decrepit mansion, casts a spell from which Joe is unable to break free. He, like the audience, is stuck in a terrible place awaiting an equally frightful fate.

March 4, 2014 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

One of the great joys of the film is watching the way in which William Holden's naturalistic performance clashes with an actress and performance style from an earlier age.

November 8, 2012 Full Review Source: CinemaBlend.com
CinemaBlend.com

An uncompromising study of American decadence displaying a sad, worn, methodical beauty few films have had since the late twenties.

August 29, 2012 Full Review Source: The Nation
The Nation

A must for fans of ruthless black comedy.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comment (1)
Common Sense Media

Sunset Boulevard's entire point of view is based on a gimmick. Whether one considers it an "artistic cheat" or a valid and audacious device depends up his ability and desire to suspend his disbelief.

March 9, 2009 Full Review Source: Bright Lights Film Journal
Bright Lights Film Journal

Tears away at the curtain that keeps reality away from fiction.

December 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Movie Views

if you have the dream to make it to Tinsel Town, you might want to check this flick out because Hollywood is as hard on dreams as it was back in the 1950s

November 12, 2008 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures | Comments (32)
7M Pictures

Dark comedy. Film noir. Tragic romance. Hollywood satire. 'Sunset Boulevard' has it all.

November 6, 2008 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

The casting is perfect.

August 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

This cold-blooded satire is at once subtle and savage.

December 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Gloria Swanson and William Holden give definitive, Oscar-nominated performances as the fading star and hack writer, respectively, in Bily Wilder's darker than dark comedy about the inner workings of Hollywood at a crucial phase of the industry's change.

July 4, 2005 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

A cynically dark recognition to Hollywood's forgotten stars.

February 20, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Comment (1)
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A concentration of classic filmmaking at its peak, a specimen of director Billy Wilder at the razor's edge of his brilliance.

October 15, 2004 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

Few pictures are greater than Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder's scathing assault on Hollywood's magnetism, aura, and fear of watching it pass you by...

August 15, 2004 Full Review Source: Film and Felt
Film and Felt

Marvelous Hollywood-on-Hollywood satire, balanced exquisitely between All About Eve and Mulholland Drive.

June 24, 2004

Black comedy, creepy noir, and timeless Hollywood satire... as good as they come.

May 22, 2004
Flipside Movie Emporium

Audience Reviews for Sunset Boulevard

Norma Desmond: I am big! It's the pictures that got small.

"A Hollywood Story"

Sunset Boulevard is one of those timeless classics that every film buff must see in their lifetime. It's some of Billy Wilder's best works and only the second film of his I've seen, the other being, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, which is considered to be one of his lesser efforts. So it was nice to see Wilder at the top of his game, and was he ever. Sunset Boulevard is a masterpiece, there's absolutely no doubt about that.

A struggling screenwriter named Joe Gillis stumbles on what he thinks to be an old abandoned Hollywood stars home while running from repossessors who want his car. When the home isn't actually abandoned, but actually occupied by an aging silent film star, Norma Desmond. Norma is delusional, self absorbed, and downright crazy. She is trying to stage a comeback with a screenplay she has been working on for years and asks Joe to edit it. He agrees thinking it will be some nice, quick cash. The stay on Sunset Boulevard doesn't happen to be as brief as he thought though.

The performances from William Holden and Gloria Swanson are phenomenal. The story is great, no matter what you want to call it; a film noir, a character study, whatever, it's fantastic. There's a lot of dark material, but the writing manages to allow for some comedic moments. The house is almost another character altogether and an amazing setting for a film.

Sunset Boulevard is a must see film. Film lovers will love the movie driven story, fantastic performances and great direction. It's one of the few movies that will be well known forever and never forgotten. A complete masterpiece.
February 22, 2014
blkbomb
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

From a writing standpoint, kudos for this script. There is something about getting old, in Hollywood, that is imminently topical. In this movie about making movies, the notion of growing too old to draw an audience echoes a kind of universally unspoken nightmare for everyone who becomes a "star." How ironic that this really was Gloria Swanson's swan song. After this it was all a path to obscurity for her with mostly TV parts until the end. Her melodramatic acting style is almost so over the top that you might be tempted to laugh in some scenes, but the fact that her character's story is so sad keeps you from doing so. Swanson would have had my vote for the Oscar. William Holden is so good in this; dying young is one sure solution to the problem of aging. My favorite player is Cecil B. DeMille as himself. He completely and sympathetically understands the aging star's tragedy. In Hollywood, how old is too old? An interesting commentary on a problem that must plague many Hollywood industry folks even to this day. Okay, here's a question for everyone who might want to think about it: In literature, when a narrator continues to speak after death, is that an artistic problem, or, in this case, is that perhaps a commentary on art and immortality?
February 20, 2013
binky013

Super Reviewer

The definition of timeless classic, greatly well written and directed, blending dark humor and tragic film noir - and it offers splendid performances by William Holden and Gloria Swanson, who play a sarcastic writer and a histrionic diva of yore, respectively.
November 19, 2012
blacksheepboy

Super Reviewer

William Holden plays one of the new blood of Hollywood, unsuccessfully seeking fame and fortune, just as his circumstances put him across the path of one of the old school, the radiant Gloria Swanson, unsuccessfully trying to recapture past glories. Perhaps Billy Wilder's best film is an indescribable jewel of infinite facets, not the least of which is the constant and continuing struggle for self worth. Von Stroheim stoically exudes "no comment" while keeping watch ...
August 9, 2012
ApeneckFletcher

Super Reviewer

    1. Norma Desmond: I am big! It's the pictures that got small.
    – Submitted by Dutch E (13 months ago)
    1. Norma Desmond: All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up.
    – Submitted by Dutch E (13 months ago)
    1. Norma Desmond: I'm going to be bigger than peanut butter!
    – Submitted by Jesse K (18 months ago)
    1. 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!... All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up.
    – Submitted by Willie J (18 months ago)
    1. Norma Desmond: We didn't need dialogue. We had faces!
    – Submitted by Willie J (18 months ago)
    1. Norma Desmond: Alright Mr.Demille, I'm ready for my close-up.
    – Submitted by Willie J (18 months ago)
View all quotes (15)

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Foreign Titles

  • Boulevard der Dämmerung (DE)
  • Sunset Blvd. (UK)
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