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Sunset Boulevard (Bilingual)

4.8 out of 5 stars 166 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark
  • Directors: Billy Wilder
  • Writers: Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, D.M. Marshman Jr.
  • Producers: Charles Brackett
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Collector's Edition, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Paramount
  • Release Date: Nov. 26 2002
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 166 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B00003CXCW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #23,489 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Billy Wilder's noir-comic classic about death and decay in Hollywood remains as pungent as ever in its power to provoke shock, laughter, and gasps of astonishment. Joe Gillis (William Holden), a broke and cynical young screenwriter, is attempting to ditch a pair of repo men late one afternoon when he pulls off L.A.'s storied Sunset Boulevard and into the driveway of a seedy mansion belonging to Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), a forgotten silent movie luminary whose brilliant acting career withered with the coming of talkies. The demented old movie queen lives in the past, assisted by her devoted (but intimidating) butler, Max (played by Erich von Stroheim, the legendary director of Greed and Swanson's own lost epic, Queen Kelly). Norma dreams of making a comeback in a remake of Salome to be directed by her old colleague Cecil B. DeMille (as himself), and Joe becomes her literary and romantic gigolo. Sunset Blvd. is one of those great movies that has become a part of popular culture (the line "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up," has entered the language)--but it's no relic. Wow, does it ever hold up. --Jim Emerson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Special Features

The highlights of the Sunset Boulevard DVD are a standout transfer and three 2002 documentaries. In "Sunset Boulevard: A Look Back" (26 min.), author Ed Sikov, actress Nancy Olson (who played Betty Schaefer), critic Andrew Sarris, and producer A.C. Lyles discuss the perfect cast, the alternate opening, and various anecdotes. "Edith Head: The Paramount Years" (13 min.) and "Franz Waxman and the Music of Sunset Boulevard" (14.5 min.) provide retrospectives on the legendary costume designer and composer. Sikov, the author of On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder, also provides a very informative if rather dry commentary track. Other features include a map spotlighting the Hollywood locations in the film, photo galleries, and two versions of the script for the original morgue opening, one of which is supplemented with silent footage cut from the picture. --David Horiuchi

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I don't think most people understand Sunset Blvd. Many look at William Holden as the sympathetic character and see Norma as mad and obsessive. I don't think this is the fault of the film, but perhaps people misunderstand it. Norma Desmond is the sympathetic, vulnerable character. Her career was thrown away as she became older (something that still happens to actresses today) and nobody loved her. It is tragic as she falls in love with William Holden's cynical character, and even more tragic when people feel sorry for him and not Norma! Norma is a reflection of the ideal, and how the ideal can lose reality in a cynical, hurtful world. Holden is simply careless towards Norma and uses her. Because we have come to expect this stereotype of men being careless and insensitive, many people acknowledge Holden as the normal character, when in fact he is very, very flawed. And we see the ideal qualities of compassion and heartbreak in Norma as scary or possessive. That is, of course, until she goes over the edge at the end of the film - but wouldn't you, too? Contrast these ideas with the perception of Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest) that we have today.
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By Bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER on July 9 2006
Format: DVD
"Life which can be so minuscule had taken pity on Norma Desmond. The dream she had clung to so desperately had enfolded her."

Movie script writer Joe Gillis found him self in the sunset of his career. While escaping auto preprocessors, by accident or fait he turns into a driveway on Sunset Boulevard and begins a new chapter with a mysterious actress who is in the sunset of her career.

This play in three acts is packed with stars of the time. Many of the Stars and the writer reflect their real lives in the story. I am not going to bring up a list because they are fun to discover as they show up on the screen.

Even though the movie can hold its own and is worth re-watching, be sure to get a DVD with the audio commentary. The commentary helps you see what you are watching; it also covers the original beginning of the movie.

I have been tainted before viewing this movie by watching then Carol Burnet version.

All About Eve (Two-Disc Special Edition)
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Format: DVD
Like another film from the same year, All About Eve, Sunset Boulevard never quite succeeds in being as intelligent as it tries to be. And it is even less original, unabashedly stealing its base storyline from Dickens' Great Expectations, which up-and-coming director David Lean had just put out a few years earlier in the UK. Yet despite all these shortcomings, Sunset Boulevard is still ultimately a more satisfying film than the more decorated Betty Davis favorite. Part of this stems from its poignancy: it was a direct assault on Hollywood culture, values, and the then-prevalent and powerful status quo of the studio system, hence its noir designation. As interesting background, Gloria Swanson was herself an actual silent film star. In 1929, as talkies were taking over the cinematic world, she had just finished acting in a film called Queen Kelly, which was not incidentally directed by none other than the Sunset Boulevard butler and ex-husband, Eric Von Stroheim. The film was caught in the transition to talkies and had all sorts of marketing and production problems. The irony was not at all lost on Von Stroheim, for he was always ashamed of his Sunset Boulevard role, as he had only taken it for the needed cash. As it turned out, real life finished a little better for both of them as he finished up as a distinguished actor in Europe and she received the dignified swan song with this performance that her character would never experience.
By the way, Cecil B. DeMille's cameo was a nice plus, however I think I missed the great Buster Keaton's appearance (perhaps when I ran to the bathroom...) William Holden is strong and steady in the lead and Nancy Olson was absolutely delightful as his love interest on the side. Its a shame she never did anything else of substance.
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Format: DVD
As a film critic says in one of the interviews on this splendid special edition, Billy Wilder not only had the craft, style and elegance we associate with classic Hollywood, he also had a biting wit that appeals to the sensibilities of today. This film has aged much better than it's central villian, the demented starlet portrayed to perfection by real-life demented starlet Gloria Swanson. William Holden's (literally) dead-pan narration as a two-bit screenwriter of B-movies is as sad and funny as it ever was.
The documentary on the disc does a good job of demonstrating just how unique the tone of this story is, how it perfectly navigates between funny and sad. Not everyone in Hollywood saw the funny side when it was released, and it lost to ALL ABOUT EVE at that year's Oscars. So what? With this disc, SUNSET BOULEVARD is finally getting it's due.
Besides the documentary, you can read two screenplay drafts of an excised opening sequence, explore 1950's Hollywood with an interactive map and watch the film with audio commentary by a critic and historian. All these features are secondary, of course, to the movie. It looks gorgeous. The black and white picture is rich and crisp, the sound is re-mastered and the story is as compelling as ever. The special features only do what all good special features should do on a DVD. They add to the richness of the film. You may already know that Eric von Stroheim (who plays a character who directed Gloria Swanson's character in silent films) directed Gloria Swanson in silent films. But did you know that the drugstore where all the screenwriter's hang out in the movie is the drug store where F. Scott Fitzgerald had a heart attack in 1940? One of the reasons I love this movie is because it is so rich with Hollywood history.
I can't recommend this disc highly enough. Kudos to Columbia for doing right by a classic, a real film lover's film. I love this movie and I love this disc! 5/5 stars.
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