Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard ★★★★★

Billy Wilder's statement to the decline of film as an art form, demonstrated through the psychological turmoil of a forgotten silent movie star as she clings to a self proclaimed sell out screenwriter. Sunset Boulevard is very much a Hollywood story that doesn't shy away from the brutality of the booming business that always looks for ways to cash in the money and the producers who are only too eager to drop dead weight.

Narrating from beyond the grave struggling writer, Joe Gillis (William Holden) solemnly spins the tale of how he ended up dead in the swimming pool of obscure yet once sought after leading lady, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) who is under the impression that she is still flavour of the month. Desmond, a strange shut in, cobbles together a mammoth of a script to present to Hollywood legend, Cecil B. DeMilne, aided by Gillis and her odd devoted manservant Max (Erich Von Stroheim). As her working relationship wit Gillis grows she grows overly attached to him, releasing the gate to all sorts of crazy, grooming the poor writer to basically be a kept man....or her bitch. The mentality of the three main characters leaves you captivated to the last thrilling second, mostly due to the stellar performances.

Including an awful lot of past Hollywood glory (including a few cameos from the likes of H.B Warner, Hedda Hopper and Buster Keaton) this film is a testament to the Hollywood story and it does indeed draw startling similarities between actor and character. The standout performer in this classic is Gloria Swanson, undeservedly losing the academy award, but still going down in history as being one of the best female stars, she to this flamboyant piece.

Worth noting that movies such as American Beauty and Sin City used the after death narration because of this movie....unless I'm totally wrong and someone else did it first.