Mad Men & Wilder Women: Focus on Billy Wilder ACMI Presents

Sunset Boulevard

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“Still the best Hollywood movie ever made about Hollywood”

Andrew Sarris, Observer

Fleeing from debt collectors, down-and-out screenwriter Joe (William Holden) ends up in the driveway of a rundown mansion. The residence belongs to Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), an aging film start just waiting for her next close-up. Hired to write a screenplay for her comeback, Joe is drawn into Norma’s vortex with deadly consequences.

Billy Wilder's classic 1950 film held a mirror to Hollywood that few would have dared. Soaked in real references to Hollywood, both at the time and of a bygone era, to this day Sunset Boulevard feels like an insider’s look into the dark side of the industry.

As a film noir, Sunset Boulevard is unconventional. Gloria Swanson's Norma Desmond doesn't seek financial independence and doesn't come up with a murderous plot like Double Indemnity’s Phyllis Dietrichson. Instead, Norma’s treachery expresses the lamentation of losing her youth and stardom, resulting in a delusional fantasy that threatens to devour both her and Joe.