Genre Guesstimation – Sunset Boulevard (1950)

The idea behind this feature (Genre Guesstimation) is for me to watch a bunch of new movies (or ones that I haven’t seen many times) from the chosen monthly GG genre in order to expand my knowledge of movies within that particular genre.

This month’s Genre has been chosen by Ghezal of Ghezal Plus Movies and she has chosen the genre of Film Noir Movies

Please get me your submissions by the 25th of July by sending them to

Try to think out of the box! Great choice Ghezal!

Let’s see if I felt that this movie would be worthy of being in the company of my others favorite movies in the genre of Film Noir.

“We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces! ” – Norma Desmond

Number of Times Seen – 2 (12 Jun 2009 and 5 Jul 2017)

Brief Synopsis – A struggling writer in L.A. agrees to help a former high profile actress write a script that will make them both rich and famous.

My Take on it – I have always been impressed by the way Billy Wilder was always able to give us so many great films which he usually both wrote and directed.

This film is no exception to that rule and remains one of his best.

The story is laid out on a way that it keeps us hooked from the opening shot all the way to the famous line at the very end.

This film does a wonderful job dealing with the way people in Hollywood perceive themselves as well as how they are in turn seen in the eyes of the mucky mucks in Hollywood based solely on whether they are on their way up or down.

At the same time, we also get to see that fans still see them as they were when they were at their very best.

William Holden and Gloria Swanson are both superb here in the two title roles and they have nice chemistry together because they both are seemingly living in dream worlds.

The plot moves along at a great pace and it really gives us so much to think about stardom and life in general for a long time after the credits have rolled; the question will always remain as to how we will each be seen once we’ve moved on to the next stage in life.

This film’s themes still (sadly) ring true even after 68 years and that is one of the reasons that this film has remained so relevant and popular ever since because the ideas presented here are quite timeless.

One may be asking how this film can be seen as noir since there really isn’t much crime involved, yet this film really fits all the simple categories of being noir; the characters are all using each other, betrayal and of course murder.

Bottom Line – Such a cleverly written film that keeps us hooked from beginning to end. Holden and Swanson are both superb here and we are constantly surprised by everything they say and do. Love the way that this film deals with how members of Hollywood perceive their contemporaries depending on whether they are on the way up or down. Yet it also shows us how those people perceive themselves in a different position than they might really be.  The plot moves along at a great pace and gives us so much to mull over as things move along.  Still seems to (sadly) ring true even after 67 years.  Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – When crew members asked Billy Wilder how he was going to shoot the burial of Norma’s monkey, one of the film’s most bizarre scenes, he just said, “You know, the usual monkey-funeral sequence.” (From IMDB)

Genre Grandeur Worthy? – Most definitely! This is such a great look at how Hollywood works and how they treat people on the way up and also on the way back down.Wilder is such a great writer!

Rating – Oscar Worthy


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13 thoughts on “Genre Guesstimation – Sunset Boulevard (1950)

  1. More trivia: Making Sunset Boulevard and the harsh light shined on Hollywood by Wilder, one of its pre-eminent insiders – got him in a lot of hot water with a number of studio heads and industry people who felt that he was biting the hand that fed him.

    Also – Gloria Swanson – who is so indelibly linked (now) with this iconic role as Norma Desmond – was not Wilder’s 1st choice. The part was turned down by Pola Negri (another silent film star), Mae West and Mary Pickford. Montgomery Clift, who initially said yes to playing the male lead, as well as Wilder favorite Fred MacMurray – both ended up passing – and it went to William Holden (who was Oscared for his turn in another Wilder directed film, “Stalag 17”).


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