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Classic Movie Characters: Norma Desmond


Classic Movie Characters: Norma Desmond

Played by Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard
She’s the greatest star of them all, the faded queen of 1086 Sunset Boulevard. And despite her rants against talkies, this former silent film star delivers some of the greatest lines ever written: “I am big! It’s the pictures that got small!” and “Great stars have great pride.” Indeed. Swanson’s Desmond, running roughshod over her servant Max (her first director!) and gigolo hack Joe Gillis (William Holden), is a monomaniacal monster of the first stripe.
Defining Moment: Having ensured that Gillis is going to stay on her premises, Norma pulls herself together, as it were, and makes her final glitter-encrusted appearance: “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.” (Paramount DVD)
1950. Directed by Billy Wilder.

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