Billy Wilder’s classic noir created an archetypal symbol of the worst that can happen once stars used to having the world at their feet end up washed up at the foot of the world. Ex-silent queen, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) lives in a decrepit Hollywood mansion clinging to the belief that she is still a star. Into this time capsule wanders straight-talking screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) who agrees for selfish reasons to help edit Norma’s comeback screenplay. The clash between Joe’s merciless realism and Norma’s hysterical delusions leads to tragic scenes that give desperation a painted human face.
Like: The Artist gone sour meets Fatal Attraction.
Core truth: She can’t handle the truth.