Sunset Blvd. (1950) quotes

Director
Billy Wilder.

Cast
William Holden.
Gloria Swanson.
Erich von Stroheim.

A screenwriter is hired to rework a faded silent film star’s script only to find himself developing a dangerous relationship.

Wait a minute, haven’t I seen you before? I know your face.
– Joe Gillis
Get out! Or, shall I call my servant?
Norma Desmond
You’re Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big.
Joe Gillis
I *am* big. It’s the *pictures* that got small.
Norma Desmond

We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces!
– Norma Desmond

[to newsreel camera] And I promise you I’ll never desert you again because after ‘Salome’ we’ll make another picture and another picture. You see, this is my life! It always will be! Nothing else! Just us, and the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark!… All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.
– Norma Desmond

Audiences don’t know somebody sits down and writes a picture; they think the actors make it up as they go along.
– Joe Gillis

I didn’t know you were planning a comeback.
Joe Gillis
I hate that word. It’s a return, a return to the millions of people who have never forgiven me for deserting the screen.
Norma Desmond

Well, this is where you came in, back at that pool again, the one I always wanted. It’s dawn now and they must have photographed me a thousand times. Then they got a couple of pruning hooks from the garden and fished me out… ever so gently. Funny, how gentle people get with you once you’re dead.
– Joe Gillis (as narrator)

[about Norma Desmond] She must be a million years old.
First assistant director
I hate to think where that puts me. I could be her father.
Cecil B. DeMille

Don’t you sometimes hate yourself?
Betty Schaefer
Constantly.
Joe Gillis

The poor dope – he always wanted a pool. Well, in the end, he got himself a pool.
– Joe Gillis (as narrator)

Oh, I’m sorry, Mr. Gillis, but I just didn’t think it was any good. I found it flat and trite.
Betty Schaefer
Exactly what kind of material do you recommend? James Joyce? Dostoyevsky?
Joe Gillis
I just think that pictures should say a little something.
Betty Schaefer
Oh, one of the message kids. Just a story won’t do. You’d have turned down Gone With the Wind.
Joe Gillis
No, that was me. I said, “Who wants to see a Civil War picture?”
Sheldrake

I’m not an executive, just a writer.
Joe Gillis
You are, are you? writing words, words, more words! Well, you’ll make a rope of words and strangle this business! With a microphone there to catch the last gurgles, and Technicolor to photograph the red, swollen tongues!
Norma Desmond

Oh, the old familiar story. You help a timid little soul cross a crowded street, she turns out to be a multimillionaire and leaves you all her money.
Betty Schaefer
That’s the trouble with you readers, you know all the plots.
Joe Gillis

 

We don’t need two cars, we have a car. Not one of those cheap new things made of chromium and spit, an Isotta-Fraschini. Have you ever heard of Isotta-Fraschini? All handmade. Cost me $28,000.
– Norma Desmond