Film critic and historian David Thomson is the author of more than twenty books, including The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.
William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson,
A tale narrated by a dead man, Sunset Blvd. is a brilliantly sardonic look at Hollywood in which Vienna-born Billy Wilder toys with the American film industry’s hold on the émigré artist. William Holden’s Joe, an “exile” in LA (that is, his car has broken down), finds refuge in the mansion of aging actress Norma (Gloria Swanson), where a former director (Erich von Stroheim) now manages Norma’s home and her illusions. In between Norma’s festering need to re-emerge as a star and Joe’s scarce resources as a screenwriter lies a movie industry that exploits the very lifeblood of those around it.