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Past Films

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

  • Starring: Gloria Swanson, William Holden
  • Director: Billy Wilder
  • Genre(s): Drama, Film-Noir
  • Rating: Unrated
  • Running Time: 110 min.

This new quarterly series showcases the “essential” films everyone should see on the big screen. For each month-long program, we’ll screen five films organized by one of the following themes: directors, actors, genres, and eras/movements.

Essential tickets are $9 for Adults, $8 for Students/Seniors and Members get in Free!

Sunset Boulevard (1950) is a classic black comedy/drama, and perhaps the most acclaimed, but darkest film-noir story about “behind the scenes” Hollywood, self-deceit, spiritual and spatial emptiness, and the price of fame, greed, narcissism, and ambition. The mood of the film is immediately established as decadent and decaying by the posthumous narrator - a dead man floating face-down in a swimming pool in Beverly Hills.

With caustic, bitter wit in a story that blends both fact and fiction and dream and reality, co-writer/director Billy Wilder realistically exposes (with numerous in-jokes) the corruptive, devastating influences of the new Hollywood and the studio system by showing the decline of old Hollywood legends many years after the coming of sound. The screenplay was based on the story A Can of Beans by Wilder and Brackett - this was the last collaborative film effort of Brackett and Wilder who had worked together on many films since 1938.

This classic, tragic film was highly-regarded at its time, honored with eleven Academy Award nominations and the recipient of three Oscars: Best Story and Screenplay (co-authored by Charles Brackett, D.M. Marshman, Jr., and Billy Wilder), Best Black and White Art Direction/Set Decoration, and Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture (Franz Waxman). The eight unsuccessful nominations were for Best Picture, Best Actor (William Holden), Best Actress (Gloria Swanson, who lost to Judy Holliday for Born Yesterday), Best Supporting Actor (Erich von Stroheim), Best Supporting Actress (Nancy Olson), Best Director, Best B/W Cinematography (John Seitz), and Best Film Editing. - Tim Dirks

"This is the greatest film about Hollywood ever put on celluloid by Hollywood."
- James Berardinelli, ReelViews
"Remains the best drama ever made about the movies because it sees through the illusions, even if Norma doesn't."
- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"No other motion picture about Hollywood comes near Billy Wilder's searing, uncompromising and utterly fascinating portrait of the film community."
- TV Guide Magazine
"While all the acting is memorable, one always thinks first and mostly of Miss Swanson, of her manifestation of consuming pride, her forlorn despair and a truly magnificent impersonation of Charlie Chaplin."
- Thomas M. Pryor, New York Times