19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PRISTINE BLU RAY TRANSFER
at long last this priceless gem of a film has made the jump to blu ray,and what a blu ray it is.the restoration is spotless,there is not a single scratch,or a trace of dirt or dust in the print.the dense grain structure has been left in and it brings out all the smallest detail in the picture.the high quality is from start to finish,no patchy bits anywhere.there is no...
Published 20 months ago by JsyMaxius67
3.0 out of 5 stars Swanson and Holden are good together, but not my favorite film
Swanson and Holden are good together, but not my favorite film. Well directed well filmed, sets are great. Worth watching at least once.
Published 3 months ago by Azworld
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PRISTINE BLU RAY TRANSFER,
This review is from: Sunset Boulevard [Blu-ray]  [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
at long last this priceless gem of a film has made the jump to blu ray,and what a blu ray it is.the restoration is spotless,there is not a single scratch,or a trace of dirt or dust in the print.the dense grain structure has been left in and it brings out all the smallest detail in the picture.the high quality is from start to finish,no patchy bits anywhere.there is no evidence of digital noise reduction any where and the tones look natural and as they should be.it now seems the studios have learnt that massive amounts of digital noise reduction is the wrong way to go,and films should be treated with cotton gloves,rather then manhandled with industrial rubber gloves.this blu ray is worth every penny
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Back at that pool again. The one I always wanted",
I watched "Sunset Boulevard" (1950) for the first time a few days ago, after a friend lent it to me. I am very grateful to him because otherwise I probably wouldn't have rented it, or at least not anytime soon. And truth to be told, this is the kind of movie that you simply should watch as soon as possible. From my point of view, "Sunset Boulevard" is, like "Casablanca" and "The Maltese falcon", a classic.
This film is directed by Billy Wilder, and narrated by a dead man that appears in one of the first scenes floating in a swimming pool. It sounds strange, doesn't it? Despite that, it is very effective! The opening sequence is strong, but things get better and better as the story goes on. Despite that, a word of caution is in order: if you don't like black humour, don't watch "Sunset Boulevard", because this satire of the perverse side of Hollywood has it in spades.
One of the main characters is Joe Gillis (William Holden), a screenwriter without money that happens to hide from his creditors in an old mansion that seems to be empty. That is unfortunately not the case... The mansion is no less than the home of Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), a rich woman that used to be a silent screen star, and that wants to be famous again. That appears to be the reason why she employs Joe to improve a very long script she has written for her comeback, and also the reason why she insists that Joe is to stay at her house in the meantime. Joe isn't fond of the idea of staying in the mansion with the old woman and her creepy butler, Max (Erich von Stroheim), but he has no money, so he has to accept. Joe Gillis is like a fly caught in a spider's web: from the moment he enters Norma's house he is doomed, he just doesn't know it yet.
What will happen? Well, you must watch this film to learn that. I can only promise you that "Sunset Boulevard" is the kind of movie you don't regret watching. It is entertaining, insightful, has great performances and includes some of the best lines I have heard in a movie. Again, a classic. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
PS: If possible, remember to watch the extra features after seeing this film. One of them, a commentary by Ed Sikov, is specially good, due to the fact that it allows you to learn several interesting facts about the cast and the making of this movie.
PS 2: I wil include here some of my favourite quotes from this movie. I'm sure they will make you want to watch it :)
-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".
- [Joe is reading Norma's script] Joe Gillis: "Sometimes it's interesting to see just how bad bad writing can be. This promised to go the limit".
- Norma Desmond: "We didn't need dialogue. We had faces!"
- Joe Gillis: "There's nothing tragic about being fifty. Not unless you're trying to be twenty-five".
- Norma Desmond: "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up".
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And the winner is.....?,
The three serious Oscar contenders for best actress of 1950 were Bette Davis for "All About Eve", Judy Holliday in "Born Yesterday" and (of course!) Gloria Swanson for "Sunset Boulevard". Surprisingly Holliday won. It was said that Davis and Swanson cancelled each other out because they both played actresses. At the time there was some carping that Swanson did not deserve the award because she was merely acting herself while Davis and Holliday gave striking interpretations. Now more than 60 years later perspectives have changed. Denigrating Gloria Swanson's work displayed ignorance in the art of acting. When presented with this argument, Swanson said that she used aspects of herself in the role which included her fabulous career as a silent film star as do all good film actresses, but in real life she was far from Norma Desmond. When looking at these three films today, it is clear to me that Swanson rated the Academy Award (as in horse racing: by a nose). Hers is a highly complex role bordering on the ridiculous. Without the masterful collaboration of writer-director Billy Wilder she could have easily gone off the rails. Her totally integrated performance is pure cinema. Note the canny use of her eyes, her hands, every majestic silent movie gesture, the unusually intense inner concentration. In "Born Yesterday" director George Cukor shrewdly guided Judy Holliday in her first starring role, but the movie remains a crafty reproduction of Holliday's successful Broadway comedy. Writer Joseph L. Mankiewicz, as much a woman's director as Cukor, gave Bette Davis in "All About Eve" the most sophisticated original screenplay ever written and directed her to give an astonishing performance. The hair-splitting difference between Davis and Swanson is that while Bette Davis PLAYS Margo Channing to the hilt, Gloria Swanson IS the extraordinarily eccentric, dangerous Norma Desmond. At the end of "Sunset Boulevard" after killing her lover the psychotic Norma proclaims: "The stars are ageless." So is Gloria Swanson's legendary performance and the bitingly brilliant movie that frames it.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark and delicious classic gem!!,
This is a great and extremely dark look at what happens when the film cameras aren't rolling. It tells the story, in vivid flash-back, how a down-on-his-luck script writer (William Holden) happens across a forgotton and ageing silent screen icon called Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) who believes she can help him revive his career and thinks that he can bring her back into the limelight again. She falls for him and showers him with gifts, and wants him for herself. He in turn thinks that she is mad and losing her marbles, but he soon finds himself in thrall of her madness and it soon leads to his downfall.
Quite possibly the best film I've seen on the dark and disturbingly desperate side of Hollywood, it begins superbly with a stunning opening sequence and having the voice-over of the deceased. One of the best opening sequences I've seen to possibly any film. The acting is first-rate with Gloria Swanson on blistering form as the forgotton silent screen goddess wanting to come back to the big time and William Holden equally impressive as the struggling writer. There are star turns by a handful of Hollywood's elite of the time; Buster Keaton (one of the greats of silent screen), H B Warner and Cecil B. DeMille. Directed by Billy Wilder, a masterful director and screen-writer in his own right, it's memorable, brilliant and sheer class. Features in my Top 10 no question.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ready for your close up?,
Quite how this film ever got made is a wonder. Billy Wilder's superb look at a faded film star's attempt to make a come back is a triumph. A savage swipe at Hollywood, it's loaded with classic one-liners and spine chilling irony.
The faded and long forgotten silent movie star Gloria Swanson is perfect as Norma Desmond (I shudder to think what Mae West would have done it had she done it as originally planned) and William Holden as a yet to succeed screen writer who decides to exploit the old star for everything he can get is wonderful.
The new dvd transfer is stunning and the extras are worth watching too. The more you learn about this film the more you enjoy it. One fact I learnt recently from an interview with Miss Swanson's daughter that is not featured in the 'making of' sequence is that Gloria Swanson stayed in character throughout the entire making of the film run. Imagine having Norma Desmond as your mother??!
And now Mr De Mille........
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How The Mighty Have Fallen.,
This review is from: Sunset Boulevard (1950) [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This film was made at a time when the big Hollywood Star Machine was beginning to grind to a halt. The first big movie stars, the likes of Lillian Gish, Errol Flynn and Joan Crawford had either faded into obscurity, booze, charity events or all three. For some the shock was simply too much and Gloria Swanson's portrayal of fallen star Norma Desmond in complete denial and going slightly mad is a perfect mix of pure melodrama and heart-breaking realism. The aura of decay is made all the more palpable by the disintegrating dust-gathering mansion in which most of the film is set and beautifully shot by Billy Wilder. Norma's surreal life is brought back into focus by self-serving opportunist, Joe Gillis (William Holden), who uses the rich and deluded Norma to bankroll his own Hollywood dream. Great director Erich von Stroheim plays Norma's ever faithful servant and protector, and watch out for other big names who couldn't resist a cameo in this movie about movies. Playing themselves are faded luminaries such as Buster Keaton, Hedda Hopper, Cecil B. DeMille and H.B. Warner. I will spoil nothing if I tell you that the movie begins with Holden lying face down in a swimming pool. This film is also an enthralling whodunnit with the victim telling the story in one big flashback. With a magic cast and script under Wilder's skillful directorship, this film is a fore-runner to the equally exquisite Old Hollywood Has-beens flick, "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?". It's a pure gem.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Norma Desmond never looked so good,
One of three exquisite classic releases from Paramount in a row (the other two are "Roman Holiday" and "To catch a thief"), "Sunset Blvd.", the DVD is a pleasure to look at from the moment you load the disc and the menu starts. Fully restored, there are no words to describe how astonishing it looks. It could have been made yesterday rather than fifty five years ago. Someone put a lot of love (and money) into the restoration, and for that I shall be forever grateful, and I'm sure I am not the only one.
The story of a faded movie star and a penniless screenwriter (Gloria Swanson and William Holden), the film is arguable the wittiest and the best film ever made about Hollywood. Giving the plot away is spoiling it to those who haven't seen it, and I still remember how exciting it was to enter the strange world of silent movie star Norma Desmond for the first time. If you have seen the film don't hesitate before buying it: apart from the superb transfer the DVD includes a trailer, a very good and informative audio commentary, a very nice making of, a music featurette and another on Edith Head's years at Paramount (which is shared with the other two films I mentioned before) and perhaps the best, some fragments and the script of the infamous morgue prologue which Billy Wilder cut after a preview.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Self-depricating Cinema,
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A true great classic. I recommend this to all film fans. A true genius Billy Wilder directs the excellent William Holden and Gloria Swanson (a remarkable performance as Norma Desmond) in this brilliant film noir. The supporting cast includes Eric Von Stronheim and Nancy Olsen and cameos from cinematic greats such as Cecil B DeMille, Buster Keaton and others. This film takes apart your perceptions of Hollywood and shows how it can be mean to stars and to writers (albeit maybe untalented ones). This movie, ignored by the Oscars, for its negative depiction of the cinematic world, has gone down in history as one of the great classics and deservedly. Definitely recommended if you've seen Wilder's other work: Double Indemnity, Some Like it Hot, The Apartment The Seven Year Itch etc. Also recommended to any fans of film noir. A brilliant film that I would recommend to all.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest films,
Sunset Boulevard is rightly considered by The American Film Institute to be one of the greatest films of all time. The story of an aging actress and a young struggling writer has timeless appeal. This movie should be noted for the importance of its various settings - Norma Desmond's house, the Hollywood film studios, the writer's office - which play a very important role in the story. The choice of narrator is a particularly innovative one and makes the plot even more compelling. The acting is superb; Gloria Swanson perfectly portrays Norma Desmond's increasing narcissism and vulnerability and the inclusion of various older Hollywood stars who play a bridge game with Norma was a nice reminder of the silent era.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "All right Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up",
The film Sunset Boulevard also known as `Sunset Blvd' stars William Holden as Joe Gillis, a down-on-his-luck aspiring screenwriter, who becomes a kept man. His co-star is played by Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, a reclusive and faded silent movie star. A star of yesteryear that draws Joe Gillis into her make-believe world. For Norma Desmond has delusions of her greatness, from her past stardom, and wants to make a successful comeback to the silver screen. There is excellent supporting cast in the form of Erich von Stroheim, as Max Von Mayerling, her devoted servant and protector who panders to her every whim.
In bringing Sunset Boulevard to the screen Billy Wilder looked to Hollywood's past. It is believed that Norma Desmond's name was influenced by actor/director William Desmond Taylor. William Taylor was shot dead in 1922 under strange circumstances. He was shot by starlet Mabel Normand's chauffeur, with her pistol. Although the starlet was not a suspect in crime, the close association and the other scandals in her life were damming. The character of Norma Desmond was more of composite character, made up from the lives and personalities of number of silent film stars.
The two leading actors were never the first choice for the film. However, Swanson was recommended by a colleague of Wilder's, while William Holden was substitution as Montgomery Clift bowed out of the role. For me the inclusion of Erich von Stroheim Max, who in real life had actually directed Swanson in the 1920s, was brilliant casting as he is both effective and spooky in his role.
The Billy Wilder as writer-director brought strange sharp wit coupled with the definitive essentials of film noir; that make for a strange kind of amusement and noir, best exemplified in film by the pet chimp's midnight funeral scene - a solemn event where the audience try not to smirk. As with Double Indemnity, the narrative here too was shaped, in part, by the confines of its time and by the Motion Picture Production Code. A code better known as the Breen Code that were a set of industry moral censorship guidelines that governed the production of most United States motion pictures from the 1930s through to the 1960s. He also kept Paramount, in the dark, which in turn allowed him comparative liberty to continue as he saw fit with the film. The cinematography was by John F. Seitz who utilized the sunny disposition of Hollywood with the dark interiors Norma Desmond's home grand home, which is more a metaphor - as snapshot of the past.
There are a number of memorable quotes from the movie, such as "I am big; it's the pictures that got small!", "All right Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."
The ending of the film was changed to the iconic one that can be seen today, due to test audience negative reception of the original ending. This very good and unusual film that looks at the dream factory that is Hollywood, where on occasion there are nightmares.
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Sunset Boulevard [Blu-ray]  [Region Free] by Billy Wilder (Blu-ray - 2013)