101 Greatest Screenplays
Charles Brackett
Billy Wilder

Some facts about the writing of the film:

  • Billy Wilder was born Samuel Wilder in Vienna, but called Billy by his mother. His grandmother, mother and stepfather died in the Auschwitz concentration camp. multiple sources
  • Wilder was a reporter in Vienna and Berlin before becoming a screenwriter in Berlin. He came to the U.S. in 1934 to escape the Nazis. After learning English, he began working as a Hollywood screenwriter in 1937. multiple sources
  • Charles Brackett replaced Herman Mankiewicz (#4, Citizen Kane) as theater critic for The New Yorker before coming to Hollywood in 1929. IMDB
  • D.M. Marshman Jr. was a Time-Life reporter who played bridge with Brackett and Wilder. His credits include only one other film and some television work. multiple sources
  • Sunset Blvd. was the last collaboration for Wilder and Brackett, after 14 years of working together. They had co-written Ninotchka and Ball of Fire, among other films.
  • The original scripts were printed with the title A Can of Beans, because the writers were afraid the studio wouldn't support a script that might be seen as negative about the business. Their concerns may have been justified. When the film came out, MGM chief Louis B. Mayer reportedly screamed at Wilder: "You bastard! You have disgraced the industry that made you and fed you! You should be tarred and feathered and run out of Hollywood!" Variety, 7/19/93
  • Brackett suggested the idea about a silent star's comeback. Marshman suggested the story could explore the relationship between a faded movie star and a young man. Variety, 7/19/93
  • Sunset Boulevard Prod• Incorporated into the script, "Young Fellow" was Cecil B. De Mille's nickname for Gloria Swanson when they worked together in the 1920s. Sunset Blvd. The Production, online analysis at www.geocities.com/
  • Hollywood/Theater/6980/sbprod.htm
  • Brackett: "Sunset Blvd. came about because Wilder, Marshman and I were acutely conscious of the fact that we lived in a town [that] had been swept by a social change as profound as that brought about in the old South by the Civil War. Overnight, the coming of sound brushed gods and goddesses into obscurity. We had an idea of a young man, happening into a great house where one of the ex-goddesses survived. At first, we saw her as a kind of horror woman an embodiment of vanity and selfishness. But as we went along, our sympathies became deeply involved with the woman who had been given the brush by 30 million fans." Charles Brackett in a talk called Putting the Picture on Paper
  • The screenplay Norma Desmond is writing in the film was based on Oscar Wilde's Salome. IMDB
  • Filming began before the final draft of the screenplay was complete. IMDB
  • Wilder used the name "Sheldrake" in two other screenplays The Apartment (#15) and Kiss Me Stupid. IMDB

Read a page from the screenplay of Sunset Blvd.