We don't need faces: we have dialogue! And, on this week's episode, we're dialoguing about Billy Wilder's immortal avenue of broken dreams, Sunset Boulevard (1950).

First—because Gloria Swanson was the big screen's first style icon—we're talking about Nakea's sartorial role models, and the complicated relationship between the fashion and entertainment industries.

Then, we're sitting down to discuss The Unenthusiastic Critic's first viewing of Sunset Boulevard, starring Swanson, William Holden, Nancy Olson, and Erich von Stroheim. It's a lively, free-flowing discussion about dead monkeys, contemptible screenwriters, commodified actresses, the #MeToo movement, and the potential empowerment of total madness.

You see, this is our life. It always will be. There's nothing else: just us, and the microphones, and you wonderful people out there in the dark…


0:00: Prologue: Nancy Olson on Sunset Boulevard
2:06: Preliminary Conversation: Fashion and the Movies
34:02: Interlude: Opening Scene of Sunset Boulevard
34:50: Cultural Osmosis: Pre-Viewing Discussion of Sunset Boulevard
39:51: Interlude: Final Scene of Sunset Boulevard
40:43: The Verdict: Post-Viewing Discussion of Sunset Boulevard
1:30:47: Outro and Next Week's Movie

Notes and Links

—Movie Reviewed: Sunset Boulevard (dir. Billy Wilder, Paramount, 1950)
—Prologue: from  Alan K. Rode's Interview with Nancy Olsen, Film Noir Foundation
—Articles Mentioned and Resources: "Gloria Swanson Finds Fashion in 1920's Why Change Your Wife?", Kimberly Truhler, GlamAmor; "Gloria Swanson," Bronte Naylor-Jones, Catwalk Yourself; "Scandals of Hollywood: The Gloria Swanson Saga," Anne Helen Peterson, The Hairpin; "Exploring Sunset Boulevard," Adrian Hennigan, BBC; "Living with Norma Desmond," Andrew Wilson, The Guardian.  
Painting Mentioned: "Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist," by Guido Reni.
Read The Unenthusiastic Critic in prose form at
Email us, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. (Suggestions of movies to watch for future episodes are very welcome.)
—"Warm Duck Shuffle" by Arne Huseby is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

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3 thoughts on “SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950)”

  1. Hi,
    I discovered your podcast "The Unenthusiastic Critic" through a search of podcasts about "Broadcast News" and immediately became a fan.

    If it isn't on the watch list, what would be awesome is a viewing of "The Dirty Dozen" (1967). Plan B being "The Wild Bunch" (1969).

    Get well soon and regards from Australia,

      1. That's incredible and it's amazing how time flies. Look forward to it and hopefully "The Dirty Dozen" finally makes it into the National Film Registry later this year!

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