|The Opening Shot|
A man floats—face down—in a pool. We see him from beneath as he is gently fished from the freezing water—his body lifeless. We learn via a voice over that if you want to know the real facts, “You’ve come to the right party.”
|The Principal Cast:|
Nancy Olson, Gloria Swanon,
William Holden, Erich Von Stroheim
|"I am big..."|
Joe finds himself quickly embroiled in Norma’s dusty Baroque world of memories and creative rambling. Once a great silent film star, she hasn’t worked in decades—seemingly forgotten by her once adoring public. Norma proposes that Joe help her with the screenplay that would mark her triumphant return (she hates the word, “comeback”) to the screen. Joe agrees. Little does he realize that he’d soon find himself living in Norma’s house and becoming the object of her affections.
|Norma's New Year's Seduction|
|Holden and Swanson|
Real-life Hollywood greats of the twenties and thirties appear as themselves in the film including C.B. DeMille, Anna Q. Nillson, H.B, Warner, Buster Keaton and Hedda Hopper. Wilder labored over the film—changing the introduction (set in a morgue) after the sequence elicited unintended snickers from a preview audience. The result—though widely panned by Hollywood insiders at the time—is now considered one of the greatest cinematic masterpieces ever created.
|"All right, Mr. DeMille. I'm ready for my close-up."|
The film has influenced many art forms and had been an inspiration to actors and writers alike. A musical version by Andrew Lloyd-Webber was praised by Billy Wilder for its faithfulness to his original work. Enjoy this clip from one of the first trailers for Sunset Boulevard.