Sunset Blvd. (1950)

1h 50m / Not Rated / Drama

In the glamorous, decaying world of Hollywood, Sunset Blvd. tells the story of struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden), who finds himself tangled in the web of faded silent film star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). As Gillis becomes involved in Norma’s delusions of a comeback, he finds himself trapped in a toxic relationship that ultimately leads to tragedy.

At its core, Sunset Blvd. is a scathing critique of Hollywood’s ruthlessness, particularly its treatment of aging stars and the relentless pursuit of fame and fortune. Billy Wilder’s direction and sharp, Oscar-winning screenplay (co-written with Charles Brackett and D.M. Marshman Jr.) offer a darkly satirical portrayal of the film industry, exposing the harsh realities lurking beneath its glittering facade. Norma stands proudly as a symbol of the bygone silent film era, clinging to her former glory, and through her, we have a front-row seat to the sad show of obsession, delusion, and the price of success.

Guests are invited to stick around after the screening for a post-show Film Talk and audience Q&A with Foster Hirsch, film historian and author of the new book, Hollywood and the Movies of the Fifties.

The Summer Classics Movie Series has been presented by Bank of America since 2015. Promotional support for the series is provided by WEDU PBS.