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Trivia / Sunset Boulevard

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  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: People often misquote this movie's famous line as "I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille" when it's actually, "Alright, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up".
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  • Career Resurrection: Averted. Gloria Swanson's film career was not revitalized by the film. She was disappointed to see that all the parts she was offered subsequently were watered down versions of Norma Desmond. Ultimately she retired completely from films, making only sporadic appearances, notably in Airport 1975.
  • Creator Backlash: Erich von Stroheim complained that he was always identified with "that butler role" rather than anything else he directed or starred in.
  • Cut Song: "The Paramount Don't Want Me Blues"
  • Executive Meddling: Probably for the better. The original cut of the film involved Joe Gillis's corpse talking to other corpses in the morgue, which made test audiences laugh uproariously. All that survives of this early opening consists of script pages and some silent footage of morticians transporting and storing the corpse.
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  • Irony as She Is Cast: Despite the fact that Erich von Stroheim plays a butler/chauffeur, he could not drive in real life. During the scenes in which he drove, the car was towed by another car. In the scene in which he drives Norma Desmond to Paramount Pictures at the studio gates the car was pulled by men with an out of camera rope.
  • Method Acting: According to Gloria Swanson's daughter, Michelle Amon, her mother stayed in character throughout the entire shoot, even speaking like Norma Desmond when she arrived home in the evening after filming. On the last day of shooting, Swanson drove back to the house she, her mother and daughter shared during production, announcing "there were only three of us in it now, meaning that Norma Desmond had taken her leave."
  • Mid-Development Genre Shift: The film was originally going to be a comedy, and some of those lines made it into the final version as the usual film noir wisecracking.
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  • Money, Dear Boy: Cecil B. DeMille agreed to do his cameo for a $10,000 fee and a brand-new Cadillac. When Billy Wilder went back to him later to secure a close-up, DeMille charged him another $10,000.
  • Reality Subtext: The Movie. How much so? The film was extremely shocking for Hollywood insiders, sending shockwaves through the industry. Audiences were more or less unaware of it, though, and just thought of it as a snarky Film Noir.
    • Norma is played by Gloria Swanson, who was a silent film star, and worked with Cecil B. DeMille. Max is played by Erich von Stroheim, who was a silent film director.
    • The movie that Norma and Joe watch together was comprised of footage from Troubled Production Queen Kelly (1929) - directed by none other than Erich von Stroheim.
    • And Cecil B DeMille referred to Swanson as "young fella" when both were getting started in Hollywood.
    • The Waxworks, of course, were real former Hollywood stars then considered has-beens, including Buster Keaton.
  • Star-Making Role: For William Holden.
  • Starring a Star as a Star:
    • Silent film era star Gloria Swanson plays all-but-forgotten silent film ere star Norma Desmond (and silent film actor and director Erich von Stroheim plays Desmond's butler Max, also her former silent film director).
    • Professional productions of the musical tend to cast big-name stars as Norma. Just from English-language shows, there's Patti LuPone, Betty Buckley, Glenn Close (twice), and Petula Clark.
  • Those Two Actors: After the success of the film, this was attempted with William Holden and Nancy Olson; they appeared in three further films together, but none of them was really successful.
  • Typecasting: Filmmakers just rehashed Norma whenever they wanted to give Gloria a part in a film after that, and some people still confused Swanson with Desmond.
  • What Could Have Been:
  • Working Title: The writers feared that Hollywood would react unfavorably to such a damning portrait of the film industry, and so the film was code named A Can of Beans while in production.


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