Sunset Boulevard - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Sunset Boulevard Reviews

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½ July 13, 2017
A well done movie which shows that you need a good story not a huge budget to create a classic movie. Gloria Swanson returned from a post sound film absence to deliver a great role which she is now more often remembered for.
½ June 10, 2017
Sunset boulevard is a wonderfully dark, sad, and oddly funny look at how some people can't leave their glory days in Hollywood behind. The film is directed wonderfully with beautiful sets, particularly the mansion that evoke a sense of isolation, loneliness, and dread perfectly. The dialogue is sharp and biting with some great lines taking a jab at Hollywood and people in the business. It's also a great character study. I can definitely see why it's a classic.
April 20, 2017
Now THAT'S a classic that lives up to the hype...
½ April 19, 2017
Great acting. This is a classic for a reason. It moved a bit slow for my taste, but I found myself enjoying the narrative and the interplay between the three/four main characters. Now I know where the quote, "I am ready for my closeup mr. deville" comes from.
½ April 15, 2017
At a point, Norma Desmond as a character becomes so infuriating, so unlikeable, so downright annoying, to the point where it's almost physically painful to sit through. She's over-the-top, but not in the kind of way that's tolerable. She's selfish, and whiny, and conceited. It's the kind of thing that almost ruins an otherwise excellent movie.

And then you understand. That's the point. Billy Wilder's take on a darker side of Hollywood is scathing and unrelenting, showing how fame takes its toll on those "fortunate" enough to reach movie star status. Behind the camera, the screenwriters (in this case, down-on-his-luck writer Joe Gillis) are too cynical to craft anything more than an easy buck. To boot, it's all strangely meta: Gloria Swanson, giving one of the most legendary performances in history as Desmond, transitions from silent film actress into a new era of filmmaking, not unlike Desmond hopes to do herself. Wilder is wildly inventive in this regard, and doesn't pull punches when going directly after the business. Instead of making up directors to include in this story, he throws in real names (D.W. Griffith and Cecil DeMille, the latter of whom cameos in a small acting role) to make this savage satire hit as hard as it can. Wilder and Charles Brackett's screenplay draws elements of film noir mysteries, with voiceover narration and murky cinematography, but it's also truly funny. It's that kind of juxtaposition that makes Sunset Boulevard such a masterwork of film: you can't help but laugh at how these things play out and how ridiculous they all can be, but they sit in the corner of your mind and slowly register. And again, you understand. This is very much a horror story.
April 14, 2017
This classic dark comedy about the horrifying truth of Hollywood proves ageless.
April 5, 2017
This is an unfolding experience; the fate is set, we know William Holden will die and his narration is otherworldly, from the afterlife presumably. So the challenge is always: can we care about a story whose results we already know? It's Shakespeare's witches on a beach, prophetic, moving in one direction. We only need one look at Gloria Swanson's Norma Desmond - set in a rotting mansion amidst stacks of obsessively writing an epic screenplay that nobody will buy - to know that Holden is falling into a trap with a completely insane woman. I don't know enough movies to say whether or not this really stood out for it's time, exposing the inner world of Hollywood glamour and the hard hit for those who fall from it. But I can say that every beat of this film unfolds to my taste, and it's statement of Hollywood holds true to today. Holden's Joe Gillis is trapped in Dracula's castle, his meat tenderizing to her whims, her every need, and eventually her desire to have a man like him in her life. Here's a young, good-looking stud whose screenwriting career is failing, and out of desperation he allows himself to be taken by this old washup. We get a sense of both Gillis and Desmond's desperation playing off into their inevitable pitfall. Gillis could have a younger, attractive, successful woman like Barbara Schaefer, who is helping him recuperate his career with a screenplay that could actually land him a quality film. She is his only hope, his one way ticket out of hell into a better life. But he's in a bubble with her, dancing on the outskirts, seeing what could've been if his devlish functions weren't so manipulated by the more immediate lavish life Desmond provides.

Wilder stages this with delicacy, but is not shy to allow over-the-top moments, particularly by Swanson giving us the ugliest side of fallen stardom one could imagine. From her facelift to her close-up moment after the murder, we get all we could hope to keep reserved in the belly of our deepest nightmares of lost minds and past-dwelling.

I only wonder if this film feels very removed from those who don't know Hollywood lingo, which dialogue and narration provide an abundance of. Featuring legendary director Cecil B DeMille as himself may not register with the modern audience, but it's significant. He entertains Desmond, horribly and accidentally teasing that her screenplay has any promise, only to reveal the sad truth that he had no other way of handling her politely, and has no intention of making her movie.

The narration is another great tool, providing the attitude and backdrop of being a screenwriter in Hollywood, not taking from the theatric experience of the story coming to life visually. Sunset Boulevard itself will fatefully be the best story Gillis ever tells on film. Desmond's heartbreak is unsettling, unnerving, and an effective lesson about moving on in life.
March 31, 2017
Stylishly directed, smartly written and powerfully acted. Sunset Boulevard is a glorious look at the early days of Hollywood and the struggles of screenwriting. An undeniable classic for film lovers
½ March 7, 2017
Interesting. Daringly smart.
½ March 2, 2017
A great classic movie !
½ February 19, 2017
Man, this one was REAL good.
February 19, 2017
I really enjoyed this but found myself wishing Hitchcock had directed it so they could have leaned into the menace more.
December 7, 2016
Classic. On Blu-ray.
½ November 23, 2016
Critics weren't kidding when they said this is one of the greatest movies of all time. This is a great movie.
½ November 4, 2016
72%
Saw this on 01/11/16
Billy Wilder's cynicism and black comedy elements are praisable, but the film is only good in parts and its predictable. It's got good characters and dialogues, yet it dwells on familiar tracks for most of the time.
October 27, 2016
What a magnificent film. Gloria Swanson is incredible as the reclusive Silent star of a bygone age which she can't grow out of. Her mannerisms are trapped in a medium of over expression and makes her hopeless for the Talkies she craves to be accepted in. Billy Wilder is one of the masters. No question. How tragic and heartbreaking to see poor Norma oblivious to her failures and painful delusion. Perfection.
October 5, 2016
Great film with some amazing acting. Gloria Swanson is sensational. All in all one of the best movies in the 50's. Probably the best film about Hollywood.
September 14, 2016
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.
August 7, 2016
Up front disclosure: I saw this at Somerset House's outdoor screenings in London, which both aided and took away from its enjoyment.

Overall, it was well acted and had some very witty and funny remarks, particularly if you have any familiarity with LA's film industry, but there wasn't much of a drive or plot throughout. Even halfway through, it felt like it was just meandering through their lives, with no particular understanding for why this movie had been made.

Given that it is on many best of lists (and #52 on IMDB), I just expected more from this film.
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