Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Great Scenes # 29: Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Directed by Billy Wilder

This is the final scene from the classic film noir/Hollywood satire Sunset Blvd. In this scene, faded silent film actress Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson, delivering a brilliant performance) has been driven into madness after she murders her illicit lover/screenwriter played by William Holden (not exactly a spoiler since you know he gets killed right off in the start). Throughout the film, she yearns to make a big-screen comeback. In this final scene, it's almost as if she breaks the fourth wall, talking directly to the audience. Then she utters the oft misquoted line, "Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up." As she approaches the camera for her close-up, in an almost cruel, ironic joke, director Billy Wilder dissolves the film and fades away, before she could get one. It's a brilliant ending to a brilliant film.

7 comments:

The Angry Lurker said...

I totally agree, it's been a while since I've seen it as well!

YeamieWaffles said...

This ending is absolutely genius, to deny her of her close up sounds in such a way is actually masterful. I've never seen the film before but now I really want to, I've heard the film is a classic.

mad padre said...

It's an amazing film. Holden gives a great performance as a rather caddish bounder, and casting Erich von Stroheim as the chauffeur to a washed up actress is a brilliant bit of meta-casting.

Mark said...

It wouldn't play for me (copyright thingies) but it does sound like a brilliant ending.

Shockgrubz said...

That ending probably became the inspiration for the sopranos and lost finales. Those would be the only reasons I hated on it. Otherwise, I love it!

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

Such a powerful moment! Amazing what a simple fadeout can accomplish when it's done correctly.

G said...

Haven't seen this in ages but yes what a brilliant film.