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Classic Scene


"Those wonderful people out there in the dark..."

SETTING THE SCENE  Norma Desmond, star of yesteryear, retreats into madness after murder and imagines that the newsreel cameras are turning for her Big Scene as Salome...

NORMA: What is the scene? Where am I?... Oh yes, yes. Down below they're waiting for the princess. I'm ready.

MAX: All right, cameras! Action!

(Norma descends the staircase to the music in her head and a voiceover from the dead Joe)

So they were turning after all, those cameras. Life, which can be strangely merciful, had taken pity on Norma Desmond. The dream she had clung to so desperately had enfolded her.

NORMA: I can't go on with the scene. I'm too happy Mr. DeMille, do you mind if I say a few words? Thank you. I just want to tell you all how happy I am to be back in the studio, making a picture again. You don't know how much I've missed all of you. 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. (Her voice drops to a whisper.) There's 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.

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1 The Greatest Scene of All
Posted on Sunday March 16, 2014, 20:44 by Roo
Cinema at its best - this scene transcends mere words. Swanson's real films were the epitome of class - "Beyond The Rocks"; "Madame-sans-Gene", "Sadie Thompson", "Queen Kelly", "The Affairs of Anatole", "Male and Female" - even the genre-defining "Teddy at the Throttle" - the perfect silent screen queen (along with Pickford and Theda Bara). But Sunset Boulevard defied a genre, defined a moment, and still moves audiences today. The script was right: the stars ARE ageless... aren't they...? Read More

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