"I didn't know you were planning a comeback," says William Holden's character, Joe Gillis, to Desmond.
"I hate that word!" Desmond replies. "It's a return, a return to the millions of people who have never forgiven me for deserting the screen."
Today, Swanson and Holden make their return to home video as Sunset Boulevard arrives on Blu-ray.
Here's the news release from Paramount Home Media Distribution:
HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. – Paramount Home Media Distribution proudly presents one of the studio’s most iconic films, newly restored and in sparkling high definition for the first time ever, when SUNSET BOULEVARD debuts on Blu-ray November 6, 2012. A fitting release to continue Paramount’s centennial celebration, Billy Wilder’s seminal classic continues to enthrall audiences with its bizarre and tragic tale of Hollywood’s dark side. 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.
William Holden, as a struggling young screenwriter, and Gloria Swanson, as an aging silent film queen, created two of the screen’s most memorable characters, delivering unforgettable performances amidst the dramatic light and shadow of John Seitz’s evocative cinematography.
Not only a cinematic masterpiece, SUNSET BOULEVARD also captures some extraordinary moments in Hollywood history, including Cecil B. DeMille on the set of Samson and Delilah, which was erected in a soundstage still in use on the Paramount lot. Director Erich von Stroheim, who had directed Swanson previously in real life, appears as Norma Desmond’s butler and former director. Various notable figures make appearances in the film as themselves, including actors Buster Keaton, Hedda Hopper, Anna Q. Nilsson and H.B. Warner. And, of course, there are the iconic images of Hollywood itself, including the well-known shot of Paramount’s legendary gates.
The main objective of the restoration effort was to remain faithful to the distinctive look created by the director and cinematographer. Stark shadows and darkness occasionally cut by the bright light of a film projector are themselves essential in telling the disturbing story of madness and obsession. The restoration team secured a vintage print made at the time of release from the Library of Congress to view and study the tones and extensively researched documentation from the production to accurately present the director’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.
In addition, work done on the film’s original mono soundtrack back in 2001-2002 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 – including optical soundtrack negatives, music and effects tracks and partial music master materials.
The SUNSET BOULEVARD Blu-ray boasts over two hours of in-depth bonus material that sheds light on the film, its origins and its path to becoming a classic. With featurettes on stars Gloria Swanson and William Holden, a look at renowned costume designer Edith Head, an exploration of the Paramount lot of the 50s, a Hollywood location map and much, much, more, the Blu-ray offers a comprehensive guide to this enduring cinematic treasure. In addition, the Blu-ray features a never-before-released deleted scene entitled “The Paramount-Don’t-Want-Me Blues”, which was obtained from the Academy Film Archive and features Academy Award-winning songwriters
Jay Livingston and Ray Evans performing a comedic song that was cut for fear of being too Hollywood insider in 1950.
SUNSET BOULEVARD Blu-ray
The SUNSET BOULEVARD Blu-ray is presented in 1080p high definition with English Mono Dolby TrueHD, French Mono Dolby Digital, Spanish Mono Dolby Digital, Portuguese Mono Dolby Digital and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. Disc contents are as follows:
• Commentary by Ed Sikov, author of 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
• The Movie
• Theatrical Trailer (HD)