Joe Gillis is a down on his luck screenwriter trying to make ends meet at Paramount Studios in 1949 when he meets beautiful young script editor, Betty Schaefer. Unable to scrape together enough funds to afford his car payment, he escapes repossession agents finding himself on Sunset Boulevard. After a daring car chase, Gillis hides in the garage of a rundown mansion belonging to none other than out of work fading star, Norma Desmond. Lavishing in the memories of her silent film heyday, her refusal to make the transition to “talkies” left her out of work. Still convinced of her old-Hollywood glamour, Desmond focuses her time on delusional creation of her masterpiece adaptation of Salome for Cecil B. DeMille to direct. Realizing the disastrous script, Gillis convinces her to provide him with room and board in exchange for his editing talents. While his financial problems temporarily subside, living with Desmond and her butler in the mansion poses a threat to his relationship with Betty, as Norma begins to lavish him with gifts and luxurious clothing. DeMille grows impatient with the creation of the script, finally arranging a noncommittal meeting to discuss the production. It becomes clear that his interests lie outside of the project itself, and rather in exploiting the material luxuries that the star possesses. As her dreams of once again gracing the silver screen shatter, her downward spiral into hysteria has fatal consequences.