Sunset Boulevard: The Centennial Collection: DVD Review

Sunset Boulevard
Paramount Home Entertainment
Release date: November 11th, 2008
MSRP: $24.99

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark

My first glimpse of Sunset Boulevard was in the television version of Trading Places. Don’t remember the scene? Well, the scene wasn’t in the theatrical or VHS version–might be on the DVD, but don’t quote me on that. There was a scene in the TV version that shows Paul “I was in every movie in the 80s” Gleason’s character actually steal the stock information for the Dukes. A security guard that is guarding the information is watching Sunset Boulevard. I said, “I need to see that movie. Because I love William Holden and he was just shot in that scene!” So I ran out and bought it, and said, “WOW! What a fantastic movie.” That was in the mid-to-upper 80s. Probably closer to “late” to almost “not” 80s. I watched it again the other day for the latest DVD release and said, “WOW! What a fantastic movie.”

If you’re thinking I just ruined the movie by telling you William Holden gets shot…you’re wrong. I will even tell you…He DIES! HA!…and Darth Vader is Luke’s father! No, I am not ruining it for you: the movie opens with William Holden dead in a pool, then flashes back to how he got there.

William Holden plays a down on his luck script writer in Hollywood, who meets an aging former movie star. That is all I am going to tell you about the plot and story. Let me tell you it is creepy, sad, and VERY dark. There is arguably only one redeemable character in the whole movie and it is played by Jack Webb (yes, THAT Jack Webb! DUHN DUH DUHN DUHN “Just the facts, Ma’am”). I say “arguably” because you could make a case for one other, but you would be wrong. Well, Cecil B. DeMille’s character is redeemable, but he plays himself so that doesn’t count. And say what you want about Gloria Swanson’s over-acted portrayal of the aging star, but she was SUPPOSED to over-act. The character was a drama-queen.

This DVD comes with a BUTTload of special features. As matter of fact, they had to put them all on a second DVD. There are featurettes about Sunset Blvd., Gloria Swanson, William Holden, Paramount Pictures in the ’50s, and even one about Edith Head, the famous costume designer who recently died. Fifteen special features in all. (I told you a BUTTload!)

Order Sunset Boulevard from Amazon.

Randy Otteson
For more reviews from Randy, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.