Blu-ray Release: Sunset Boulevard

Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: Nov. 6, 2012
Price: Blu-ray $24.99
Studio: Paramount


Sunset Boulevard movie scene

Gloria Swanson is Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard.

Sunset Boulevard starring William Holden (The Bridge on the River Kwai) and Gloria Swanson (Queen Kelly), Billy Wilder’s (Sabrina) classic 1950 film noir drama about the perils and temptations of Hollywood, arrives on Blu-ray for the first time in a newly restored edition.

The film details the dark and dangerous relationship between Joe Gillis (Holden), a hack screenwriter yearning for success, and Norma Desmond (Swanson), a faded silent movie star who draws him into her fantasy world where she dreams of making a triumphant return to the screen.

In preparing the film for its Blu-ray debut, Paramount’s restoration team secured a vintage print made at the time of release from the Library of Congress to view and study in order to present director Wilder’s original vision. Although none of the original nitrate materials survive, the restoration team conducted a worldwide search for the earliest generation elements, ultimately using an acetate 35mm duplicate negative as a primary source for scanning at 4K to create the highest picture quality possible.

Additionally, work done on the film’s original mono soundtrack back in 2001-2002 for a prior DVD release was expanded upon. As with the picture, no original sound materials survive, but a variety of source elements were analyzed, transferred, digitally cleaned and incorporated into the final restoration.

Nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and winner for Best Writing, Best Art Direction and Best Music, Sunset Boulevard was named by the American Film Institute as #12 on its list of the Greatest American Movies.

The Blu-ray is packed with bonus features, most of which have appeared on earlier DVD incarnations of the film. New among the supplements—and of particular interest to fans—is a never-before-seen deleted scene from the film, which is presented in high definition. The sequence, known as “The Paramount-Don’t-Want-Me Blues” scene, was obtained from the Academy Film Archive and features songwriters Jay Livingston and Ray Evans performing a comedic song that was cut for fear of being “too Hollywood insider” in 1950.

Here’s a complete list of the features:

  • Commentary by Ed Sikov, author of the book On Sunset Blvd: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder
  • Sunset Boulevard: The Beginning
  • Sunset Boulevard: A Look Back
  • The Noir Side of Sunset Boulevard
  • Sunset Boulevard Becomes a Classic
  • Two Sides of Ms. Swanson
  • Stories of Sunset Boulevard
  • Mad About the Boy: A Portrait of William Holden
  • Recording Sunset Boulevard
  • The City of Sunset Boulevard
  • Franz Waxman and the Music of Sunset Boulevard
  • Morgue Prologue Script Pages
  • Deleted Scene—“The Paramount-Don’t-Want-Me Blues” (HD)
  • Hollywood Location Map
  • Behind the Gates: The Lot
  • Edith Head: The Paramount Years
  • Paramount in the ‘50s
  • Galleries:
    • Production
    • The Movie
    • Publicity
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD)

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.