Sunset Boulevard is about the slide downhill. In this case, the decline of ageing actress Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). Together with her butler (Erich von Stroheim), she lives in a sort of Gothic haunted house on Sunset Boulevard. She spends her time working on a highfalutin script that will secure her comeback. Until a stranger calls, thus sealing his own fate…
The casting by master director Billy Wilder is perfect: Erich von Stroheim was one of the greatest directors of silent films but by 1950 he had fallen on hard times and was accepting every film role he was offered for the money. The same applied to the female lead Gloria Swanson, once a silent-screen goddess, but just before her role in ‘Sunset Boulevard’ only a talk show host. The screenplay of Sunset Boulevard is highly original, and the film design is spectacular. The dark house with its huge, dusty rooms is a prison cell, a nightmare. The jazzy music provides a stark contrast and, like the mise-en-scène, won an Oscar. The film inspired many other directors, including David Lynch (Mulholland Drive).
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