Wilder wastes no time dispelling the notion of Hollywood as all glitter and glamour. The film opens with a memorable sequence. SUNSET BOULEVARD is stenciled on a curb. Dead leaves, scraps of paper, and cigarette butts lie in the gutter like so many broken dreams. Suddenly, police motor cycles and cars careen toward us to a murder scene, their sirens screaming. A body floats in a swimming pool. Shot from beneath the surface of the water looking up, we see a corpse with its eyes wide open. The unmistakable voiceover of Holden narrates the action. Already you know you are in for something different.
The film is full of wonderful moments like this. The odd lovers watch old films in the dark, Norma sits enthralled and clutches Joe's arm; Norma's awkward visit to Paramount Studio; Gillis' face as he finally realizes he's going to sleep with Norma; the bridge game with the Wax works; and Swanson's iconic stair descent. It is all beautifully shot and lit, and the sets evoke a claustrophobic and gothic look, appropriate for Norma's delusional state of mind.
|A bizarre relationship develops between Norma and Joe.|
|All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up.|
- Double Indemnity 1944
- Stalag 17 1953
- Witness for the Prosecution 1957
- The Apartment 1960
- One, Two, Three 1961