2.3 C
New York
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Advertisement

Sunset Boulevard Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: Dolby TrueHD Mono; French Mono Dolby Digital; Spanish Mono Dolby Digital, Portuguese Mono Dolby Digital
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
  • Region: A (B? C?)
  • Rating: Not rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: November 6, 2012
  • List Price: $26.99

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

There have been plenty of Hollywood movies about Hollywood, but Sunset Boulevard is, according to the American Film Institute, at the top of this heap. The story begins at its end with the body of unlucky script writer Joe Gillis (William Holden) floating face down in the swimming pool of faded silent screen star, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). With a clever stroke by co-screenwriters Charles Brackett, D.M. Marshman, Jr, and Billy Wilder, we get a running narrative delivered by the dead man himself. Gillis happens upon Desmond’s Sunset Boulevard mansion, and is greeted by Max, Norma’s butler, among other things to be revealed later, (Eric von Stroheim). Matters get more interesting when Gillis is hired to assist with a “come-back” screenplay for the actress and is literally “moved” into the house.  In a case of life imitating art, Swanson, a former silent film star herself, gets to play a silent film star who struggles to regain her past glory on the silver screen. We also get some great cameos from C.B. DeMille himself, Buster Keaton, H.B. Warner, and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper among others, adding a further air of authenticity to the world of the silver screen. What lifts the entire production well above the level of the competition is the incredible ensemble performance elicited by director Wilder, no stranger to the film noir world. The script has a gaggle of some unforgettable one-liners, mostly assigned to Desmond: “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.”  “No one ever leaves a star; that’s what makes someone a star.”  “We didn’t need dialogue, we had faces.” Sunset Boulevard received eleven Oscar nominations but bagged just three (Best Art Direction-Set Direction, Best Music Score, Best Story-Writing-Screenplay).

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Given the senior citizen age of this film (1950), the picture is just short of amazing. Details are terrific and the close ups are crisp. The cinematographers bring us so many shots of the stars that we feel a part of the proceedings.  The overly ornate and cluttered Desmond abode exudes a hot-house atmosphere, making it a legitimate member of the supporting cast. One look at the classic expressive Swanson face gives us a hint about why she was a silent film superstar. Editing is top of the heap.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3/5]

The dialogue, critical to the effect of this film, is extremely well delivered by the Dolby TrueHD Mono soundtrack. Franz Waxman’s Oscar-winning score, a brilliant supporter of this drama, is also well conveyed, albeit with some boxiness and lack of air.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

There are plenty of extras, totaling more than two and a half hours :

  • Commentary by Ed Sikov, author of On Sunset Blvd: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder
  • Sunset Boulevard: The Beginning
  • Sunset Boulevard: A Look Back
  • The Noir Side of Sunset Boulevard
  • Two Sides of Ms. Swanson
  • Stories of Sunset Boulevard
  • Mad About the Boy: A Portrait of William Holden
  • Recording Sunset Boulevard
  • The City of Sunset Boulevard
  • Franz Waxman and the Music of Sunset Boulevard
  • Morgue Prologue Script Pages
  • Deleted Scene-“The Paramount-Don’t-Want-Me-Blues
  • Hollywood Location Map
  • Behind the Gates: The Lot
  • Edith Head: The Paramount Lot
  • Paramount in the ‘50’s
  • Galleries: Production, The Movie, and Publicity
  • Theatrical Trailer

These bonuses well worth watching and give us an insider’s view of this classic movie, par excellence.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

A film noir if ever there was one, Sunset Boulevard has it all: over-the-top performances, spot-on-direction and terrific sets and score, and a great story. It is interesting that, at the time of the filming, actors Holden and Swanson were 32 and 51 years old, respectively. To make the outlandish nature of their relationship more dramatic, the make-up artists and cinematographers went to great lengths to emphasize this age difference.  With little doubt, Gloria Swanson steals the show and her over-the-top performance convinces viewers that the faces of silent film stars were expressive beyond words. The addition of failed silent film director Erich von Stroheim (who had previously directed Swanson in a Hollywood bomb ) and other former film stars was a touch that gave this movie the final touch of Hollywood authenticity. This move by director Wilder actually infuriated some Hollywood power brokers like MGM’s Louis B. Mayer who considered this a stab through the heart of the film industry. That notwithstanding, this is epic movie making and should be on the required short watch list of all film fans.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B008VNIBFO[/amazon-product]

Purchase Sunset Boulevard on Blu-ray  at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

[amazon-product]B008VNIBFO[/amazon-product]

Purchase Sunset Boulevard on Blu-ray  at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]



Advertisement

Related Articles

FX Original Black Narcissus (TV Series Review)

A buttoned-up remake of the classic 'Black Narcissus' in the form of a 3-episode series that portrays the physical and emotional struggle of English nuns to establish a school in a remote palace in the Himalayas.

Perry Mason: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)

A complex neo-noir origin story for the famous criminal defense attorney gets a gorgeous Blu-ray release from Warner Bros.

Popeye: 40th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)

An excellent release on Blu-ray of this long maligned but still fun to watch film.

1 COMMENT

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Stay Connected

301FansLike
0FollowersFollow
724FollowersFollow
- Advertisement -

Notice of Compliance with FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 16 CFR Part 255

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR part 255 guidelines, this website hereby states that it receives free discs and other theatrical or home entertainment “screeners” and access to screening links from studios and/or PR firms, and is provided with consumer electronics devices on loan from hardware manufacturers and/or PR firms respectively for the purposes of evaluating the products and its content for editorial reviews. We receive no compensation from these companies for our opinions or for the writing of reviews or editorials.
Permission is sometimes granted to companies to quote our work and editorial reviews free of charge. Our website may contain affiliate marketing links, which means we may get paid commission on sales of those products or the services we write about. Our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. This disclosure is provided in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Latest Articles

FX Original Black Narcissus (TV Series Review)

A buttoned-up remake of the classic 'Black Narcissus' in the form of a 3-episode series that portrays the physical and emotional struggle of English nuns to establish a school in a remote palace in the Himalayas.

Perry Mason: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)

A complex neo-noir origin story for the famous criminal defense attorney gets a gorgeous Blu-ray release from Warner Bros.

Popeye: 40th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)

An excellent release on Blu-ray of this long maligned but still fun to watch film.

The Hobbit: The Motion Picture Trilogy (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

The Hobbit: The Motion Picture Trilogy is arriving for the first time on 4K Ultra HD remastered in Dolby Vision and overseen by Peter...

TheaterByte’s Holiday Gift Guide for 2020

Let’s focus on the donut here: BEST Home Entertainment Holiday EVER.
%d bloggers like this: