Blu-ray Review “Sunset Boulevard”

Starring: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough
Director: Billy Wilder
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Paramount
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Run Time: 110 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

Being a film buff everyone know’s that “Sunset Boulevard” is a must in your library. The film still engages you like it was just released today. The acting is nothing short of spectacular. William Holden and Gloria Swanson are such iconic characters actors and they can never be replaced. “Sunset Boulevard” heads to Blu-ray for the first time ever. It looks good in its 1080p transfer, with its 1.37:1 showcasing the original aspect ratio. Since the film is over 60 years old, there is some noticeable grain throughout the film. Still due to the film age it does get some high points in my book.  This is a must for all fans of classic cinema.

This is not just catalog title that is being released to Blu-ray. “Sunset Boulevard” was fully restored and made to maintain the look/feel that was originally created by the director and cinematographer. Since there was no original source that survived. The restoration team ended up having to use a 35mm negative for the main source for its 4K restortation. So in terms of that what we have as the finished product is impressive. The audio on the Blu-ray is also impressive with its minimalistic yet true to the original film, Dolby TrueHD Mono track.

The special features here are the very impressive for this release with over two hours of extras, including a never-before-released deleted scene “The Paramount-Don’t-Want-Me Blues”, which was obtained from the Academy Film Archive and features Academy Award-winning songwriters. Together these extras really aim to paint the picture for the entire story of “Sunset Boulevard”. There is an audio commentary track from Ed Sikov, author of “On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder”. Not the most engaging track but still very informative if you are a film buff.

There are various featurettes included, some of which start to repeat themselves but are worth checking out at least one. “Sunset Boulevard: The Beginning” dives into the cast and the character dynamics. “Sunset Boulevard: A Look Back” talks about the alternate opening, reaction to the film and overall the film’s legacy. “The Noir Side of Sunset Boulevard” looks into the aspects of the film that made it a noir classic. “Sunset Boulevard Becomes a Classic” look onto the culture impact that this film had to date. “Two Sides of Ms. Swanson” dives into the life of Gloria Swanson with the help of her Granddaughter. “Stories of Sunset Boulevard” is more behind-the-scenes look into the production. “Mad About the Boy: A Portrait of William Holden” looks into the film’s star and his life.

“Recording Sunset Boulevard” reflects on Franz Waxman’s classic score. “The City of Sunset Boulevard” takes a look into the shooting location used in this classic. “Franz Waxman and the Music of Sunset Boulevard” is another look into Franzz work with the insights of other known composers. “Morgue Prologue Script Pages” includes a reproduction for the various versions of the famous cut opening sequence. There is an interactive map of Sunset Boulevard with videos on various locations. “Behind the Gate: The Lot” looks back at the history of Paramount Pictures. “Edith Head: The Paramount Years” looks into the life of the famous costume designer. “Paramount in the ’50s” takes us back to view Paramount’s best films from the 1950s. Lastly there are various photo galleries and an HD theatrical trailer included.

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