William Holden as Joe Gillis, struggling screenwriter
Los Angeles, Fall 1949
Film: Sunset Boulevard
Release Date: August 10, 1950
Director: Billy Wilder
Costume Designer: Edith Head
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Noirvember continues with Sunset Boulevard, one of the great films noir that shines a light—or, more appropriately, casts a shadow—on the darker side of Hollywood, a theme popular with contemporary dramas like In a Lonely Place (1950) and The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), with an added verisimilitude through mentions of real studios like 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures—who, of course, produced Sunset Boulevard—and cameos from Cecil B. DeMille, Hedda Hopper, and Buster Keaton.
William Holden stars as Joe Gillis, who describes himself in the opening narration as “a movie writer with a couple of B pictures to his credit.” On “the day when it all started,” Joe recounts living in a seedy one-room Hollywood apartment where he owes three months back rent, grinding out two original screenplays a week and fretting that he’s lost his touch. Three payments behind on his Plymouth, his screenplays aren’t selling, and his agent isn’t willing to help, instead insisting that “the finest things on the world have been written on an empty stomach,” though that may be just to get out of having to lend his client the $290 he needs to keep his car. Continue reading