Close-up on Sunset Boulevard

Billy Wilder, Norma Desmond, and the Dark Hollywood Dream

Sam Staggs

St. Martin's Press

Download Image Sam Staggs Close-up on Sunset Boulevard

Available Formats

BookeBook
Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard, a classic film noir and also a damning dissection of the Hollywood dream factory, evokes the glamour and ruin of the stars who subsist on that dream. It's also one long in-joke about the movie industry and those who made it great-and who were, in turn, destroyed by it. One of the most critically admired films of the twentieth century, Sunset Boulevard is also famous as silent star Gloria Swanson's comeback picture.

Close-Up On Sunset Boulevard tells the story of this extravagant work, from the writing, casting and filming to the disastrous previews that made Paramount consider shelving it. It's about the writing team of Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett-sardonically called "the happiest couple in Hollywood"-and their raucous professional relationship. It's about the art direction and the sets, the costumes, the props, the lights and the cameras, and the personalities who used those tools to create a cinematic work of art.

Staggs goes behind the scenes to reveal: William Holden, endlessly attacked by his bitter wife and already drinking too much; Nancy Olson, the cheerful ingenue who had never heard of the great Gloria Swanson; the dark genius Erich von Stroheim; the once famous but long-forgotten "Waxworks"; and of course Swanson herself, who-just like Norma Desmond-had once been "the greatest star of them all."

But the story of Sunset Boulevard doesn't end with the movie's success and acclaim at its release in l950. There's much more, and Staggs layers this stylish book with fascinating detail, following the actors and Wilder into their post-Sunset careers and revealing Gloria Swanson's never-ending struggle to free herself from the clutches of Norma Desmond.

Close-Up On Sunset Boulevard also chronicles the making of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical production of Sunset Boulevard and the explosive diva controversies that dogged it. The book ends with a shocking example of Hollywood life imitating Hollywood art. By the last page of this rich narrative, readers will conclude: We are those "wonderful people out there in the dark."

Connect with the Author

Sam Staggs

Related Links


Sign Up for
Author Updates

Macmillan Newsletter


Sign up to receive information about new books, author events, and special offers.

Sign up now

Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads

Back

About the Author

Sam Staggs

Sam Staggs is the author of the acclaimed All About All About Eve and a novel, MMII: The Return of Marilyn Monroe. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

Sam Staggs

Sam Staggs

Back

Buy the Book

Available Formats and Book Details

Close-up on Sunset Boulevard
Billy Wilder, Norma Desmond, and the Dark Hollywood Dream
Sam Staggs

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
February 2003
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466830462
ISBN10: 1466830468
320 pages, Includes sixteen pages of black-and-white photographs
$7.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
St. Martin's Press
St. Martin's Griffin
February 2003
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312302542
ISBN10: 0312302541
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 448 pages, Includes sixteen pages of black-and-white photographs
$20.99
Back

From The Publisher

St. Martin's Press

Latest on Facebook

Latest on Twitter

Back