Sunset Boulevard is a powerful film, even though it's been over fifty years
since its release. In the film, desperate and down on his luck
screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) stumbles upon the mansion of former
silent movie star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) while trying to dodge a pair of
repo men after his car. Desmond is desperate to return to the screen and
sees Gillis as the man who can help her perfect the script for her return.
Gillis sees an opportunity to make some money from a delusional older woman
until he can get back on his feet. As the short-term writing gig becomes
increasingly long-term and their lives become increasingly intertwined, Gillis
finds he likes the lifestyle of being a kept man but not the feelings of
self-loathing to which it gives birth. For her part, Desmond sees hope in
the form of Gillis, a hope that eventually feeds her delusions to the point
where she loses touch with reality. At the surface Sunset Boulevard is a
look at Hollywood, and how an industry built on dreams treats its own so
cruelly, but look more closely and you can see a myriad of equally dark themes
running just below the surface.
This release of the film is the first DVD in Paramount's Centennial
Collection. The picture transfer and remastering are excellent - the
picture is sharp and artifact free. There is a second disc included that
has a number of features chronicling the history of the film and the stories of
the actors and other talent behind the film. A fascinating film such as
this will leave you hungry to learn more about it, and the second disc will do
an excellent job of feeding that hunger.