Billy Wilder's classic film of obsession, delusion, and the film industry--Sunset Boulevard--plays at the State Theatre on Sunday, April 18 at 3 pm. The film is part of the Modesto Film Society's monthly series.
Former silent-era star Gloria Swanson is astonishing as Norma Desmond, an aging film legend who hasn't worked in Hollywood since the talkies took over. Norma is convinced that the world, the "people out there in the dark," have been demanding her return since she retired twenty years before.
To that end, she has been writing a screenplay for famed director (and her former collaborator) Cecil B. DeMille to direct. Struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis (a capable William Holden) arrives at Desmond's palazzo on Sunset Boulevard while trying to outrun the repo man, and becomes Norma's confidant, screenwriting partner and, eventually, kept man. Norma is convinced that the calls from Paramount, from DeMille's people, are about her "return" (she hates the word "comeback"). She soon discovers the real reason for the calls...
Nominated for eleven Academy Awards in 1950, including Best Picture and Best Actress, Sunset Boulevard won just three. The picture competed against another entertainment industry expose, All About Eve, which took home many of that evening's awards. But Sunset Boulevard remains a shining example of Billy Wilder's prowess as a director and screenwriter, and of film noir done right.
Sunset Boulevard is presented by the Modesto Film Society, an independent, community-based non profit dedicated to the preservation of America's rich cinematic heritage. Tickets are $8 and can be purchased online or at the State Theatre box office. The State Theatre is located at 1307 J Street, in downtown Modesto. The phone number is (209) 527-4697.