Ready to roll cam with the "Sunset Boulevard" quiz


By: Olivia Cantor

7 Min Quiz

Image: Paramount Pictures

About This Quiz

The 1950 dramatic film noir classic, "Sunset Boulevard," is considered one of the best films to come out of Hollywood from the last century, helmed by Tinseltown favorite, Billy Wilder. Are you ready to stroll down memory lane to discover the ins and outs of filmmaking as seen through this film? Then take this quiz and let’s skedaddle!

"Sunset Boulevard" is a film about Hollywood’s filmmaking procedures and what happens to the people in it, or who used to be in it. In which state is Hollywood located?

California has become a golden destination for people who want to break into the Hollywood scene. Actually, Hollywood is a street in Los Angeles.


The film’s intriguing story is narrated to us by the character named Joe Gillis. What is his Hollywood profession?

William Holden played the scriptwriter named Joe Gillis. It’s his thoughts we hear as voice-over throughout the film, providing his insights and analysis of the situations he finds himself in — like a true writer.


Hollywood crime: In true dramatic style, the film opens with a mystery. What is this mystery?

Cinematic from the start, Sunset Boulevard opens with a death. It’s mysterious, since we don’t know how the person died, and why the body is floating in a swimming pool. Stay tuned!


True or false: Is Sunset Boulevard a real place?

Yes, Sunset Boulevard is indeed a real place in Los Angeles county. You can drive through the long stretch of the boulevard, which leads to Hollywood and other places of interest in La-La land.


Desperate times: What is scriptwriter Joe’s main problem?

It has been a longtime problem for scriptwriters to have little money and no jobs to pay them.


As a result of Joe’s financial dilemma, this precious item of his will soon be repossessed. What is it?

It’s hard enough to be broke in Los Angeles, but it’s harder to go around town without a car. Since it’s not a walkable city, Joe finds it hard to deal with this repossession… so he hides his car from the authorities.


As Joe was trying to evade the financial guys out to repossess his car, he drives into a Sunset Boulevard mansion’s driveway to hide. It turns out to be the property of this former Hollywood celebrity. What is her name?

Norma Desmond became one of the most memorable roles for Gloria Swanson, whose performance earned her an Oscar nomination. This character has been copied and spoofed, but it remains to be one of the most iconic roles Hollywood ever produced.


Screenwriter Joe recognizes Norma Desmond, a Hollywood has-been who was big during this early Hollywood era. Which era was this?

Norma Desmond is one of the fictional Hollywood A-listers during the silent film era of the 1900s up to the late 1920s, before the invention of film sound. Most silent screen superstars weren’t able to transition to sound for various reasons, one being their speaking voices were not good.


It’s funny to Joe that a huge house of a former movie star only had one other resident, Max. What is Max’s role in Norma Desmond’s household?

Joe meets a servant named Max in Norma Desmond’s mansion. He acts like a formal butler who does the bidding of his boss, which Joe found strange at times.


Let the dead bury the dead: Norma lets Joe in her secluded mansion because she mistakes him for an undertaker, tasked to bury this creature in her lawn. What creature is this?

A dead monkey is scheduled to be buried when Joe arrived at Norma’s property. Later, the real undertaker arrived with a little coffin, and Joe witnesses Max and Norma bury the dead monkey. Only in Hollywood!


Upon learning that Joe is a screenwriter, Norma hired him on the spot to help with a script she has been writing. Which Biblical story was Norma writing?

The middle-aged Norma Desmond has written a script about a young teenage girl named Salome. Joe will act as her script doctor to polish the material.


Norma Desmond is under the impression that her fans still adore her, even if there’s no physical evidence, except for these delivered items. What are they?

In her heyday, Max said Norma received 17,000 pieces of fan mail. But the latest fan mail she’s been getting seems to come from only one source — Max! And the show must go on...


Like a true celeb: Norma Desmond’s daily routine involves opening her fan mail, reading it and sending response with her photos and this special scribbling. What’s that scribbling called?

Prior to social media’s invention, getting an autograph of a celebrity used to be the “in thing.” These days, it’s the selfie that’s the celeb sighting priority.


Which real-life Hollywood studio is predominantly used in Sunset Boulevard’s story?

Paramount Pictures is the real-life Hollywood studio used as the backdrop of the story.


Who is the real-life acclaimed director who portrayed himself in the film, the one Norma Desmond wanted to work with?

Cecil B. De Mille was one of the most important filmmakers who established the Hollywood name, and the industry in general. He was a successful film director during the silent film era and the sound era.


Aside from being her script doctor for "Salome," Joe Gillis started living in Norma’s mansion, so she could be close to him, and showered him with occasional gifts. What prominent gift did she give him, to support his vice?

It was very common for people back then to carry their own cigarette cases, as they discarded the cigarette packing. But it’s uncommon to be gifted with one made of solid gold. Go, Joe!


Once a week, Joe noticed a bunch of Norma’s old Hollywood friends came to the mansion for a social visit. What funny nickname did he give the bunch?

The “waxworks,” as Joe sarcastically called Norma’s friends, were actual silent film era stars making a cameo in this film. The most notable of them is Buster Keaton, who was as popular as Charlie Chaplin and did the same comedy genre as him. Living legends!


What did Norma and the waxworks do weekly?

Norma and her former silent film era friends gathered at the mansion for a weekly game of poker. And true to their era, we don’t hear the waxworks speak — only Norma.


Inside a Paramount Pictures executive’s office, scriptwriter Joe met Betty Schaefer who handed a report to Joe’s executive friend. What is Betty’s official Hollywood job at Paramount?

It is the duty of a script reader to go through a submitted script thoroughly and make a detailed report about it, much like how a student would produce a book report. But this time, there are add-ons -- like its commercial viability, or if the script has weak points -- and recommendations for casting.


When he started to lived there, Joe noticed that Norma Desmond’s mansion had a lot of unnecessary things, but also lacked these necessary things as well. What is missing in her mansion?

Joe found it iffy staying in a place where there are no locks on the doors. Norma's doctor prescribed it, as Max revealed, so people could reach Norma if necessary and without delay.


What passage is engraved in Joe’s cigarette case, that gift from Norma?

On Joe’s solid gold cigarette case, Norma had it inscribed with “mad about the boy.” She sure is direct!


According to Max, Norma’s doctor was the one who prescribed to have all locks removed in the mansion, so it’s easy to get inside her room if ever she tries something funny. What type of condition does Norma have from time to time?

It’s reported that famous people who fall from grace suffer bouts of depression, which may lead to suicidal tendencies. This was a tendency for a handful of silent film era stars who never transitioned to the sound era and suffered mental breakdowns because of it.


​It’s a dead giveaway that Norma likes Joe when she throws a party just for him during this special day of the year. What day was it?

Norma declared that she was in love with Joe during her New Year’s Eve party for him. But Joe felt it stifling, and also awkward, so he rejected her love and left.


During Norma’s New Year’s Eve party, she said that tiles are good for the floor, as advised by Rudolph Valentino. Specifically, what kind of dance is best done on a tiled floor, according to him?

Valentino, the recognized tango dancer and lover of old Hollywood, said tiles are best for dancing the tango. Noted, Rudolph!


Script reader Betty Schaefer is engaged to Artie, another Paramount Pictures worker. What is Artie’s Hollywood job?

An assistant director helps the main director with directing the smaller scenes, usually the ones without major or supporting actors in them. Crowd scenes, directing the traffic flow on the set, or shooting smaller scenes are the usual jobs of assistant directors in a large motion picture productions.


Joe was inside the Paramount Pictures executive’s office to hopefully sell one of his scripts to the studio, so he tells him its concept. What is this Hollywood procedure called?

Like another American pastime, baseball, Hollywood calls the procedure of selling a script to a producer a “pitch.” Incidentally, Joe was pitching a baseball film script to the executive at Paramount when he first met Betty Schaefer.


Because of Joe’s rejection, Norma Desmond attempted to commit suicide when he left her on New Year’s Eve. Which of Joe’s things did Norma use to do this?

Norma found Joe’s razor and cut her wrists with it. Good thing the doctor was able to stop the bleeding and Norma survived. Joe took pity and came back.


Intellectual dishonesty: Joe started sneaking out from Norma’s mansion at night to see Betty Schaefer. But what did the two do every night?

Betty was able to convince Joe to co-write a script based on one of his short stories called Dark Windows. Surprisingly, veteran writer, Joe, enjoyed the collaboration with newbie writer, Betty.


The inevitable plot twist: What eventually happened between Joe and Betty as they spent nights co-writing a screenplay?

Since they started getting close while working on a screenplay, Joe and Betty fell in love. But this is a problem since Joe has Norma, and Betty has Artie. Dilemma time!


While living at the mansion, Joe slowly unearths its secrets and Norma’s, and also Max’s. What was Max’s original relationship with Norma?

Max turned out to be Norma Desmond's first husband. But when she left him, he couldn’t bear it, so he became her servant instead.


Callback: Norma was waiting for Paramount Pictures to call her about De Mille directing her again in her "Salome" script, but the actual callback she got was about this.

A certain Gordon Cole called Norma’s mansion because they saw her fashionable car on the lot and wanted to rent it out. Joe and Max didn't know how to break it to her gently, that it’s not her or her "Salome" script they want.


The final reveal: Norma called Betty Schaefer to reveal who Joe really was, but it was Joe who showed it to Betty inside the mansion. What is this reality that he revealed of himself?

Norma wanted to say that Joe was her kept man, but Joe invited Betty in the mansion to see this for herself. Joe lost Betty in the process, and it’s in that instance that Joe lost his Hollywood pretension as well.


Joe finally had it with Norma and the mansion’s dark secrets, so he packed up and got ready to leave. What did Norma do?

It was an innovation for Billy Wilder to have a dead narrator voice a film, and he did that with Joe telling the story of how Norma shot him, and going through the rest of the film in flashback.


Old dogs, old tricks: It was revealed that Max was also the former film director who discovered Norma, so it wasn’t hard for him to direct her one last time. What did Max do to help the police coax Norma into coming out of the house after Joe’s death?

The police learned that the only way for Norma to go downstairs and out of the house was for Max to pretend that the news cameras that were there were film cameras, ready for her take. That did the trick!


As Norma descended the mansion staircase, she said this famous line that ended the film: “All right, Mr. De Mille. I’m ready for my ___.” For what kind of shot is Norma ready?

One of the most iconic lines, if not the most iconic of them all, to come out of Billy Wilder’s "Sunset Boulevard" is Norma Desmond’s pronouncement towards the end. She said “All right, Mr. De Mille. I’m ready for my close-up.”


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