Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sunset Boulevard - Film Locations

Sunset Boulevard, a 1950 film directed by Billy Wilder and starring Gloria Swanson and William Holden is probably one of my favorite films. The film tells the story of struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis (Holden) who is desperately trying to sell his latest script to a producer at Paramount in order to get out of his dismal financial situation. When Gillis leaves Paramount Studios and begins driving along Sunset Boulevard he is spotted by repo men. Gillis, on the run, pulls into what he thinks is the driveway of a deserted mansion.

At the mansion, Gillis encounters Norma Desmond (Swanson), a forgotten legend of the silent films. Desmond, desperate to get back into pictures, allows Gillis to stay at her mansion if he in returns helps her with a screenplay that will reintroduce her to audiences.

Wilder, wanting to keep his film as authentic as possible, makes reference to many real Hollywood films, people, and places. Below are some images of the places that can be seen in Sunset Boulevard.

Alto-Nido Apartments 1851 N. Ivar Ave
This is the location of Joe Gillis's apartment building.

(Photo: (C) Paramount Pictures)
Holden at his typewriter in what is supposed to be the interior of the Alto-Nido apartments.

This is the entrance to Paramount Studios. The window on the left side of the gate is the old security window. It's here in the film where the security guard greets Norma Desmond. The fountain was not built until the 1990s. During the time of the film this area was still part of Bronson Avenue which is the road the stars drove down to enter Paramount. The new drive-on entrance to Paramount is located on Melrose Avenue.

(Photo: (C) Paramount Pictures)
Above is an image of the Paramount Studios entrance as seen in the film. That's Norma Desmond seated in the back of the automobile. Notice there is no fountain in the foreground.

Stage 18 - Where Cecil B. Demille greets Norma Desmond

(Photo (C) Paramount Pictures)
Cecil B. Demille greets Norma Desmond outside Stage 18

Directly across from Stage 18 is a long 2 story building. It's on the second floor of this building where the writers offices are located in the film.

(Photo: (C) Paramount Pictures)
Above is a photo of William Holden and Nancy Olsen (one of the script girls) inside the writers building across from Stage 18.

(Photo: (C) Paramount Pictures)
Above is a photo of Schawb's Pharmacy. Schwab's was a very popular hangout with the early Hollywood crowd, especially with writers, actors, and other creative types. Holden's character is seen going into Schwab's a couple times in the film.

Schwab's Pharmacy location - 8024 Sunset Boulevard
As you can see in the image above Schwab's pharmacy no longer exists. The building was torn down and a new mall was built in it's location. Interesting enough, the location is changing again. When I took this photo about 3 years ago the main business in the mall was Virgin Megastore. During the last year the Virgin Megastore has since closed it's doors and the mall complex is going through many other changes.

(Photo: (C) Paramount Pictures)
Above is an exterior shot of Norma Desmond's mansion as seen in the film. The mansion was located just 10 blocks south of Paramount Studios. Wilder considered the mansion perfect for his film but it didn't include a swimming pool, so the production constructed one. However, the pool was for show only. It was not capable of operating as a functioning swimming pool.

NW corner of Wilshire and Irving Boulevards
Above is a photo of where the Norma Desmond mansion once stood. Like many historic buildings in Hollywood the mansion met it's demise, just like Joe Gillis in the film.

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