Lyrics for Sunset Blvd by J.R. :
D.M. Marshman, Jr.
A-l-4 START the picture with the actual street sign:
SUNSET BOULEVARD, stencilled on a curbstope.
In the gutter lie dead leaves, scraps of paper,
burnt matches and cigarette butts. It is early
Now the CAMERA leaves the sign and MOVES EAST, the
grey asphalt of the street filling the screen. As
speed accelerates to around 40 m.p.h., traffic de-
marcations, white arrows, speed-limit warnings, man-
hole covers, etc., flash by. SUPERIMPOSED on all
this are the CREDIT TITLES, in the stencilled style
of the street sign.
Over the scene we now hear MAN’S VOICE
sirens. Police squad cars Yes, this is Sunset
hurtle toward the camera, Boulevard, Los Angeles,
turn off the road into a California. It’s about
driveway with squealing five o’clock in the
brakes. Dismounted motor- morning. That’s the
cycle cops stand directing Homicide Squad, com-
the cars in. plete with detectives
and newspaper men.
A-5 PATIO AND POOL OF A murder has been re-
MANSION ported from one of those
great big houses in the
The policemen and news- ten thousand block.
paper reporters and You’ll read all about
photographers have it in the late editions,
jumped out of the cars I’m sure. You’ll get
and are running up to it over your radio,
the pool, in which a and see it on tele-
body is seen floating. vision — because an
Photographers’ bulbs old-time star is in-
flash in rapid suc- volved. one of the big-
cession. gest. But before you
hear it all distorted
and blown out of
proportion, before those
get their hands on it,
maybe you’d like to
hear the facts, the
A-6 FLASH OF THE BODY
Angle up through the If so, you’ve come to the
water from the bottom right party… You see,
of the pool, as the the body of a young man
body floats face down- was found floating in the
ward. It is a well- pool of her mansion, with
dressed young man. two shots in his back and
one in his stomach. No-
body important, really.
Just a movie writer with
a couple of “B” pictures
to his credit. The poor
dope. He always wanted a
pool Well, in the end
he got himself a pool —
SLOW DISSOLVE TO: only the price turned out
to be a little high…
Let’s go back about six
A-7 HOLLYWOOD, SEEN FROM months and find the day
THE HILLTOP AT IVAR when it all started.
& FRANKLIN STREETS
It is a crisp sunny I was living in an
day. The voice con- apartment house above
tinues speaking as Franklin and Ivar.
CAMERA PANS toward Things were tough
the ALTO NIDO APART- at the moment. I hadn’t
MENT HOUSE, an ugly worked in a studio for
Moorish structure ofsat a long time. So I
stucco, about four there grinding
stories high. CAMERA out original stories,
MOVES TOWARD AN OPEN two a week. Only I
WINDOW on the third seemed to have lost
floor, where we look my touch. Maybe they
in on JOE GILLIS’ APART- weren’t original
MENT. Joe Gillis, bare- enough. Maybe they
footed and wearing no- were too original.
thing but an old bath- All I know is they
robe. is sitting on didn’t sell.
the bed. In front of
him. on a straight
chair, is a portable
him, on the bed, is a
dirty ashtray and a
scattering of type
written and pencil-
marked pages. Gillis
is typing. with a
pencil clenched bet-
ween his teeth.
A-8 JOE GILLIS’ APARTMENT
It is a one-room affair with an unmade Murphy bed
pulled out of the wall at which Gillis sits typing.
There are a couple of worn-out plush chairs and a
Spanish-style, wrought-iron standing lamp. Also a
small desk littered with books and letters, and a
chest of drawers with a portable phonograph and some
records on top. On the walls are a couple of repro-
ductions of characterless paintings, with laundry
bills and snapshots stuck in the frames. Through an
archway can he seen a tiny kitchenette, complete with
unwashed coffee pot and cup, empty tin cans, orange
peels, etc. The effect is dingy and cheerless —
just another furnished apartment. The buzzer SOUNDS.
The buzzer SOUNDS again. Gillis gets up and opens
the door. Two men wearing hats stand outside one of
them carrying a briefcase.
Joseph C. Gillis?
The men ease into the room. No. 1 hands Gillis a
We’ve come for the car.
(Consulting a paper)
1946 Plymouth convertible. Calif-
ornia license 97 N 567.
Where are the keys?
Why should I give you the keys?
Because the company’s played ball
with you long enough. Because
you’re three payments behind. And
because we’ve got a Court order.
Come on — the keys.
Or do you want us to jack it up
and haul it away?
Relax, fans. The car isn’t here.
Is that So?
I lent it to a friend of mine.
He took it up to Palm Springs.
Had to get away for his health,
You don’t believe me? Look in
Sure we believe you, only now we
want you to believe us. That car
better be back here by noon tomorrow,
or there’s going to be fireworks.
You say the cutest things.
The men leave. Gillis GILLIS’ VOICE
stands pondering beside Well, I needed about two
the door for a moment. hundred and ninety dollars
Then he walks to the and I needed it real
center of the room and, quick, or I’d lose my car.
with his back to the It wasn’t in Palm Springs
CAMERA, slips into a and it wasn’t in the
pair of gray slacks. garage. I was way ahead
There is a metallic of the finance company.
noise as some loose
change and keys drop
from the trouser pockets.
As Gillis bends over to
pick them up, we see that
he has dropped the car
keys, identifiable be-
cause of a rabbit’s
foot and a miniature
license plate attached
to the key-ring. Gillis
pockets the keys and as
he starts to put on a
A-9 EXTERIOR OF RUDY’S GILLIS’ VOICE
SHOESHINE PARLOR (DAY)
I knew they’d be coming
A small shack-like build- around and I wasn’t tak-
ing, it stands in the ing any chances, so I
corner of a public park- kept it a couple of
ing lot. Rudy, a blocks away in a parking
colored boy, is giving lot behind Rudy’s Shoe-
a customer a shine. shine Parlor. Rudy
never asked any quest-
ions. He’d just look at
your heels and know the
PAN BEHIND the shack to GILLIS’ CAR, a yellow 1946
Plymouth convertible with the top down. Gillis enters
the SHOT. He is wearing a tweed sport jacket, a tan
polo shirt, and moooasins. He steps into the car and
drives it off. Rudy winks after him.
A-10 THE ALLEY NEXT TO SIDNEY’S
MEN’S SHOP ON BRONSON AVE. GILLIS’ VOICE
I had an original story
Gillis drives into the kicking around Paranount.
alley and parks his car My agent told me it was
right behind a delivery dead as a doornail. but
truck. PAN AND FOLLOW I knew a big shot over
HIM as he gets out, walks there who’d always liked
around the corner into me, and the time had
Bronson and then toward come to take a little
the towering main gate of advantage of it. His
Paramount. A few loafers, name was Sheldrake. He
studio cops and extras are was a smart producer,
lounging there. with a set of ulcers to
A-11 SHELDRAKE’S OFFICE
It is in the style of a Paramount executive’s office —
mahogany, leather, and a little chintz. On the
walls are some large framed photographs of Paramount
stars, with dedications to Mr. Sheldrake. Also a
couple of framed critics’ awards certificates, and an
Oscar on a bookshelf. A shooting schedule chart is
thumb-tacked into a large bulletin board. There are
piles or scripts, a few pipes and, somewhere in the
background, some set models.
Start on Sheldrake. He is about 45. Behind his wor-
ried face there hides a coated tongue. He is en-
gaged in changing the stained rilter cigarette in
his Zeus holder.
All right, Gillis. You’ve got
five minutes. What’s your story
It’s about a ball player, a rookie
shortstop that’s batting 347. The
poor kid was once mixed up in a hold-
up. But he’s trying to go straight —
except there’s a bunch of gamblers
who won’t let him.
So they tell the kid to throw the
World Series, or else, huh?
More or less. Only for the end
I’ve got a gimmick that’s real good.
A secretary enters, carrying a glass or milk.
She opens a drawer and takes out a bottle of pills for
Got a title?
Bases Loaded. There’s a 4O-page
(To the secretary)
Get the Readers’ Department and
see what they have on Bases Loaded.
The secretary exits. Sheldrake takes a pill and
washes it down with some milk.
They’re pretty hot about it
over at Twentieth, but I
think Zanuck’s all wet. Can
you see Ty Power as a
shortstop? You’ve got the best
man for it right here on this lot.
Alan Ladd. Good change of pace for
Alan Ladd. There’s another thing:
it’s pretty simple to shoot. Lot
of outdoor stuff. Bet you could
make the whole thing for under a
million. And there’s a great little
part for Bill Demarest. One of the
trainers, an oldtime player who
got beaned and goes out of his head
The door opens and Betty Schaefer enters — a clean-
cut, nice looking girl of 21, with a bright, alert
manner. Dressed in tweed skirt, Brooks sweater and
pearls, and carrying a folder of papers. She puts
them on Sheldrake’s desk, not noticing Gillis, who
stands near the door.
Hello, Mr. Sheldrake. On that Bases
Loaded. I covered it with a 2-page
(She holds it out)
But I wouldn’t bother.
What’s wrong with it?
It’s from hunger.
Nothing for Ladd?
Just a rehash of something that
wasn’t very good to begin with.
I’m sure you’ll be glad to meet
Mr. Gillis. He wrote it.
Betty turns towards Gillis, embarrassed.
This is Miss Kramer.
Schaefer. Betty Schaefer. And
right now I wish I could crawl
into a hole and pull it in after
If I could be of any help…
I’m sorry, Mr. Gillis, but I
just don’t think it’s any good.
I found it flat and banal.
Exactly what kind of material do
you recommend? James Joyce?
I just think pictures should say
a little something.
Oh, you’re one of the message
kids. Just a story won’t do.
You’d have turned down Gone With the
No, that was me. I said, Who
wants to see a Civil War picture?
Perhaps the reason I hated Bases
Loaded is that I knew your name.
I’d always heard you had some
That was last year. This year
I’m trying to earn a living.
So you take Plot 27-A, make it
glossy, make it slick —
Carefull Those are dirty words!
You sound like a bunch of New
York critics. Thank you, Miss
Goodbye, Mr. Gillis.
Goodbye. Next time I’ll write
The Naked and the Dead.
Well, seems like Zanuck’s got
himself a baseball picture.
Mr. Sheldrake, I don’t want you
to think I thought this was going
to win any Academy Award.
(His mind free-wheeling)
Of course, we’re always looking
for a Betty Hutton. Do you see
it as a Betty Hutton?
Now wait a minute. If we made
it a girls’ softball team, put
in a few numbers. Might make a
cute musical: It Happened in
the Bull Pen — the story of a
You trying to be funny? — because
I’m all out of laughs. I’m over a
barrel and I need a job.
Sure, Gillis. If something should
come along –
Along is no good. I need it now.
Haven’t got a thing.
Any kind of assignment. Additional
There’s nothing, Gillis. Not
even if you were a relative.
Look, Mr. Sheldrake, could you
let me have three hundred bucks
yourself, as a personal loan?
Could I? Gillis, last year some-
body talked me into buying a ranch
in the valley. So I borrowed money
from the bank so I could pay for
the ranch. This year I had to
mortgage the ranch so I could keep
up my life insurance so I could
borrow on the insurance so I could
pay my income tax. Now if Dewey
had been elected –
Goodbye, Mr. Sheldrake.
A-12 EXT. SCHWAB’S DRUG STORE
(EARLY AFTERNOON ACTIVITY) GILLIS’ VOICE
After that I drove down
MOVE IN toward drug store to headquarters. That’s
and the way a lot of us think
about Schwab’s Drug Store.
DISSOLVE TO: Actors and stock girls and
waiters. Kind of a
A-13 INT. SCHWAB’S DRUG STORE Klatsch and waiting room.
Waiting, waiting for the
The usual Schwabadero gravy train.
crowd sits at the fount-
ain, gossips at the
cigar-stand, loiters by
the magazine display.
MOVE IN towards the TWO
TELEPHONE BOOTHS. In I got myself ten nickels
one of them sits Gillis, and started sending out
a stack of nickels in a general S.O.S. Couldn’t
front of him. He’s get hold of my agent,
doing a lot of talking naturally. So then I
into the telephone, called a pal of mine,name
hanging up, dropping of Artie Green — an awful
another nickel, dialing, nice guy, an assistant
talking again. director. He cquld let me
have twenty, but twenty
GILLIS’ VOICE (Cont.)
Then I talked to a couple of
yes men at Twentieth. To me
they said no. Finally I
located that agent of mine, the
big faker. Was he out digging
up a job for poor Joe Gillis?
Hmph! He was hard at work in
Bel Air, making with the golf
Gillis hangs up with a curse, opens the door of the
booth, emerges, wiping the sweat from his forehead.
He walks toward the exit. He is stopped by the
Gillis looks around. At the fountain sits Skolsky,
drinking a cup of coffee.
Hello, Mr. Skolsky.
Got anything for the column?
Sure. Just sold an original for
a hundred grand. The Life of the
Warner Brothers. Starring the Ritz
Brothers. Playing opposite the
(With a sour smile)
But don’t get me wrong — I love
Gillis walks out.
A-14 THE BEL AIR GOLF LINKS
On a sun-dappled green edged with tall sycamores,
stands Morino, the agent, a caddy and a nondescript
opponent in the background. Gillis has evidently
stated his problem already.
So you need three hundred dollars?
Of course, I could give you three
hundred dollars. Only I’m not
Gillis, get this through your
head. I’m not just your agent.
It’s not the ten per cent. I’m
He sinks his putt and walks toward the next tee,
Gillis following him.
How’s that about your being my
Don’t you know the finest things
in the world have been written on
an empty stomach? Once a talent
like yours gets into that Mocambo-
Romanoff rut, you’re through.
Forget Romanoff’s. It’s the car
I’m talking about. If I lose my
car it’s like having my legs out off.
Greatest thing that could happen
to you. Now you’ll have to sit
behind that typewriter. Now
you’ll have to write.
What do you think I’ve been doing?
I need three hundred dollars.
Maybe what you need is another agent.
He bends down to tee up his ball. Gillis turns away.
A-15 GILLIS IN HIS OPEN CAR
driving down Sunset As I drove back towards town
towards Hollywood. He I took inventory of my pros-
drives slowly. His pects. They now added up to
mind is working. exactly zero. Apparently I
just didn’t have what it takes,
and the time had come to wrap
up the whole Hollywood deal
and go home. Maybe if I hocked
all my junk there’d be enough
for a bus ticket back to Ohio,
back to that thirty-five-
dollar-a-week job behind the
copy desk of the Dayton Evening
Post, if it was still open.
Back to the smirking delight
of the whole office. All
Gillis stops his car at right you wise guys. why don’t
a red light by the main you go out and take a crack at
entrance to Bel Air. Hollywood? Maybe you think
Suddenly his eyes fall you could — Oh-oh!
A-16 ANOTHER CAR
It is a dark-green Dodge business coupe, also waiting
for the light to change. but headed in the opposite
direction. In it are the two finance company men.
They spot Gillis in his car and exchange looks. From
across the intersection Gillis recognizes them and
pulls down the leather sunshade to screen his face.
As the light changes. Gillis gives his car the gun
and shoots away. The men narrowly avoid hitting
another car as they make a U-turn into oncoming
traffic and start after him.
A-17 THE CHASE
A-21 Very short, very sharp, told in FLASHES. (Use
locations on Sunset between Bel Air and Holmby Hills).
The men lose Gillis around a bend, catch sight of him
and then — while they are trapped behind a slow-
moving truck. he disappears again.
He is driving as fast as he dares, keeping an eye out
for pursuit in his rear-view mirror. Suddenly his
right front tire blows out. Gillis clutches desperately
at the steering wheel and manages to turn the careening
A-23 A DRIVEWAY
It is overgrown with weeds and screened from the street
by bushes and trees. Gillis stops his car about thirty
feet from the street and looks back.
Was I far enough ahead?
A-24 THE OTHER CAR
shoots past the driveway, still looking for Gillis.
He watches his pursuers GILLIS’ VOICE
shoot past and out of Yeah…
sight. He opens the
door and looks down at I had landed myself in the
the flat tire. Then he driveway of some big mansion
looks around to see that looked run-down and
where he is. deserted. At the end of the
drive was a lovely sight
A-26 DRIVEWAY WITH GARAGE indeed — a great big empty
garage, just standing there
An enormous, five-car going to waste. If ever there
affair. neglected and was a place to stash away a
empty-looking. limping car with a hot license
He gets back into his There was another occupant in
car and carefully pilots that garage: an enormous
the limping vehicle into foreign-built automobile. It
one of the stalls. In must have burned up ten gallons
the adjoining one is a to a mile. It had a 1932
large, dust-covered license. I figured that’s
Isotta-Fraschini propped when the owners moved out…
up on blocks. He closes I also figured I couldn’t go
the garage door and walks back to my apartment now that
up the driveway. In idle those bloodhounds were on to
curiosity he mounts a me. The idea was to get Artie
stone staircase which Green’s and stay there till I
leads to the garden. could make that bus for Ohio.
CAMERA IN BACK OF HIM. Once back in Dayton I’d drop
At the top of the steps the credit boys a picturepost-
he sees the somber pile card telling them where to
of pick up the jallopy.
NORMA DESMOND’S HOUSE GILLIS’ VOICE
It is a grandiose — It was a great big white
Italianate structure, elephant of a place. The kind
mottled by the years, crazy movie people built in the
gloomy, forsaken, crazy Twenties. A neglected
little formal garden house gets an unhappy look.
completely gone to This one had it in spades. It
seed. was like that old woman in
Great Expectations — that Miss
From somewhere above Haversham in her rotting wed-
comes ding dress and her torn veil,
taking it out on the world be-
cause she’d been given the go-
A WOMAN’S VOICE
Gillls turns and looks.
A-28 UPSTAIRS LOGGIA
Behind a bamboo blind there is a movement of
a dark figure.
Wlly are you so late? Why have
you kept me waitlng so long?
He stands flabbergasted. A new noise attracts his
attention — the creak of a heavy metal-and-glass
door being opened. He turns and sees
A-3O THE ENTRANCE DOOR OF THE HOUSE
Max von Mayerling stands there. He is sixty, and
all in black, except for immaculate white cotton
gloves, shirt, high, stiff collar and a white bow
tie. His coat is shiny black alpaca, his trousers
ledger-atriped. He is semi-paralyzed. The left
side of his mouth is pulled down, and he leans on a
Gillis enters the shot.
I just put my car in the garage.
I had a blow-out. I thought —
Go on in.
There is authority in the gesture of his white-
gloved hand as he motions Gillis inside.
Look, maybe I’d better take my
Wipe your feet!
Automatically, Gillis wipes his feet on an enormous
shabby cocoanut mat.
You are not dressed properly.
Dressed for what?
THE WOMAN’S VOICE
Max! Have him come up, Max!
Up the stairs!
Suppose you listen just for a
Madame is waiting.
For me? Okay.
A-31 INT. NORMA DESMOND’S ENTRANCE HALL
It is grandiose and grim. The whole place is one of
those abortions of silent-picture days, with bowling
alleys in the cellar and a built-in pipe organ, and
beams imported from Italy, with California termites
at work on them. Portieres are drawn before all the
windows, and only thin slits or sunlight find their
way in to fight the few electric bulbs which are always
Gillis starts up the curve of the black marble
staircase. It has a wrought-iron rail and a worn
velvet rope along the wall.
If you need help with the
coffin call me.
The oddity of the situation has caught Gillis’
imagination. He climbs the stairs with a kind of
morbid fascination. At the top he stops, undecided,
then turns to the right and is stopped by
Gillis swings around.
Norma Desmond stands down the corridor next to a
doorway from which emerges a flickering light. She
is a little woman. There is a curious style, a
great sense of high voltage about her. She is dress-
ed in black house pyjamas and black high-heeled
pumps. Around her throat there is a leopard-pat-
terned scarf, and wound around her head a turban of
the same material. Her skin is very pale, and she
is wearing dark glasses.
In here. I put him on my massage
table in front of the fire. He
always liked fires and poking at
them with a stick.
Gillis enters the SHOT and she leads him into
A-32 NORMA DESMOND’S BEDROOM
It is a huge, gloomy room hung in white brocade which
has beconle dirty over the years and even slightly
torn in a few places. There’s a great, unmade gilded
bed in the shape of a swan, from which the gold had
begun to peel. There is a disorder of clothes and
negligees and faded photographs of old-time stars
In an imitation baroque fireplace some logs are burn-
ing. On the massage table before it lies a small
form shrouded under a Spanish shawl. At each end on
a baroque pedestal stands a three-branched cande-
labrum, the candles lighted.
I’ve made up my mind we’ll bury him in
the garden. Any city laws against that?
I wouldn’t know.
I don’t care anyway. I want the
coffin to be white. And I want
it specially lined with satin.
White, or deep pink.
She picks up the shawl to make up her mind about the
color. From under the shawl flops down a dead arm.
Gillis stares and recoils a little. It is like a
child’s arm, only black and hairy.
Maybe red. bright flaming red.
Gay. Let’s make it gay.
Gillis edges closer and glances down. Under the
shawl he sees the sad, bearded face of a dead
chimpanzee. Norma drops back the shawl.
How much will it be? I warn you –
don’t give me a fancy price just
because I’m rich.
Lady. you’ve got the wrong man.
For the first time. Norma really looks at him
through her dark glasses.
I had some trouble with my car.
Flat tire. I pulled into your
garage till I could get a spare.
I thought this was an empty house.
It is not. Get out.
I’m sorry, and I’m sorry you lost
your friend, and I don’t think red
is the right color.
Sure. Wait a minute — haven’t
I seen you — ?
Or shall I call my servant?
I know your face. You’re Norma
Desmond. You used to be in
pictures. You used to be big.
I am big. It’s the pictures
that got small.
I knew there was something
wrong with them.
They’re dead. They’re finished.
There was a time when this busi-
ness had the eyes of the whole
wide world. But that wasn’t good
enough. Oh, nol They wanted the
ears of the world, too. So they
opened their big mouths, and out
came talk, talk, talk…
That’s where the popcorn business
comes in. You buy yourself a bag
and plug up your ears.
Look at them in the front offices —
the master minds! They took the
idols and smashed them. The
Fairbankses and the Chaplins and
the Gilberts and the Valentinos.
And who have they got now? Some
nobodies — a lot of pale little
frogs croaking pish-poshl
Don’t get sore at me. I’m not
an executive. I’m just a writer.
You are! Writing words, words!
You’ve made a rope of words and
strangled this businessl But there
is a microphone right there to catch
the last gurgles, and Technicolor
to photograph the red, swollen tongue!
Ssh! You’ll wake up that monkey.
Gillis starts down the stairs.
Next time I’ll bring my autograph
album along, or maybe a hunk of
cement and ask for your footprints.
He is halfway down the staircase when he is
Just a minute, you!
You’re a writer, you said.
Norma starts down the stairs.
Are you or aren’t you?
I think that’s what it says on my
And you have written pictures,
Sure have. The last one I
wrote was about cattle rustlers.
Before they were through with it,
the whole thing played on a
Norma has reached him at the bottom of the staircase.
I want to ask you something.
Come in here.
She leads him into
A-33 THE HUGE LIVING ROOM
It is dark and damp and filled with black oak and
red velvet furniture which looks like crappy props
from the Mark of Zorro set. Along the main wall,
a gigantic fireplace has been freezing for years.
On the gold piano is a galaxy of photographs of
Norma Desmond in her various roles. On one wall
is a painting — a California Gold Rush scene,
Carthay Circle school. (We will learn later that
it hides a motion picture screen.)
One corner is filled with a large pipe organ, and
as Norma and Gillis enter, there is a grizzly
moaning sound. Gillis looks around.
The wind gets in that blasted
pipe organ. I ought to have
it taken out.
Or teach it a better tune.
Norma has led him to the card tables which stand
side by side near a window. They are piled high
with papers scrawled in a large, uncertain hand.
How long is a movie script these
days? I mean, how many pages?
Depends on what it is — a Donald
Duck or Joan or Arc.
This is to be a very important
picture. I have written it
myself. Took me years.
(Looking at the piles
Looks like enough for six impor-
It’s the story or Salome. I
think I’ll have DeMille direct it.
We’ve made a lot of pictures
And you’ll play Salome?
Who else ?
Only asking. I did’t know
you were planning a comeback.
I hate that word. It is a return.
A return to the millions of people
who have never forgiven me for
deserting the screen.
Salome — what a woman! What a
part! The Princess in love with
a Holy man. She dances the Dance
of the Seven Veils. He rejects
her, so she demands his head on a
golden tray, kissing his cold, dead
They’ll love it in Pomona.
(Taking it straight)
They will love it every place.
(She reaches for a
batch of pages from
Read it. Read the scene just
before she has him killed!
Right now? Never let another
writer read your stuff. He
may steal it.
I am not afraid. Read it!
Sit down. Is there enough light?
I’ve got twenty-twenty vision.
Max has entered.
Bring something to drink.
He leaves. Norma turns to Gillis again.
I said sit down.
There is compulsion in her voice.
Gillis looks at her GILLIS’ VOICE
and starts slowly Well. I had no pressing
reading. engagement, and she’d men-
tioned something to drink..
Max comes in, wheeling Sometimes it’s interesting
a wicker tea wagon on to see just how bad bad
which are two bottles o writing can be. This prom-
f champagne and two ised to go the limit. I
red Venetian glasses, wondered what a handwriting
a box of zwieback and expert would make of that
a jar of caviar. Norma childish scrawl of hers.
sits on her feet. deep Max wheeled in some champagne
in a chair, a gold ring and some caviar. Later, I
on her forefinger with found out that Max was the
a clip which holds a only other person in that
cigarette. She gets up grim Sunset castle, and I
and forces on Gillis found out a few other things
another batch of script, about him… As for her, she
goes back to her chair. sat coiled up like a watch
spring, her cigarette
clamped in a curious holder…
I could sense her eyes on me
from behind those dark
glasses, defying me not to
like what I read, or maybe
begging me in her own proud
way to like it. It meant
so much to her…
A-34 SHOT OF THE GILLIS’ VOICE
CEILING It sure was a cozy set-up.
That bundle of raw nerves,and
PAN DOWN to the moan- Max, and a dead monkey upstair
ing organ. PAN OVER and the wind wheezing through
TO THE ENTRANCE DOOR. that organ once in a while.
Max opens it, and a Later on, just for comedy
solemn-faced man in relief, the real guy arrived
undertaker’s clothes with a baby coffin. It was
brings in a small all done with great dignity.
white coffin. (Thru He must have been a very
these shots the room important chimp. The great
has been growing grandson of King Kong, maybe.
A-35 GILLIS It got to be eleven. I was
feeling a little sick at my
reading. The lamp stomach, what with that sweet
beside him is now champagne and that tripe I’d
really paying its been reading — that silly
way in the dark room. hodgepodge of melodramatic
A lot of the manu- plots. However, by then I’d
script pages are started concocting a little
piled on the floor plot of my own…
around his feet. A
glass stands on the
arm of his chair.
THE CAMERA SLOWLY DRAWS BACK to include Norma
Desmond sitting in the dusk, just as she was before.
Gillis puts down a batch of script. There is a
This is fascinating.
Of course it is.
Maybe it’s a little long and
maybe there are some repetitions…
but you’re not a professional
I wrote that with my heart.
Sure you did. That’s what makes
it great. What it needs is a
little more dialogue.
What for? I can say anything I
want with my eyes.
It certainly could use a pair of
shears and a blue pencil.
I will not have it butchered.
Of course not. But it ought to
be organized. Just an editing
job. You can find somebody.
Who? I’d have to have somebody
I can trust. When were you born —
I mean, what sign of the zodiac?
I don’t know.
Sagittarius. I like Sagittarians.
You can trust them.
I want you to do this work.
Me? I’m busy. Just finished
one script. I’m due on another
I don’t care.
You know, I’m pretty expensive.
I get five hundred a week.
I wouldn’t worry about money.
I’ll make it worth your while.
Maybe I’d better take the rest
of the script home and read it –
Oh no. I couldn’t let it out
of my house. You’ll have to
finish it here.
It’s getting kind of late —
Are you married, Mr. — ?
The name is Gillis. I’m single.
Where do you live?
Hollywood. The Alto Nido Apart-
There’s something wrong with
your car, you said.
There sure is.
You can stay here.
I’ll come early tomorrow.
Norma takes off her glasses.
Nonsense. There’s room over the
garage. Max will take you there…Max!
THE CAMERA MOVES GILLIS’ VOICE
TOWARD NORMA’S FACE, She sure could say a lot of
right up to her things with those pale eyes of
eyes. hers. They’d been her trade
mark. They’d made her the Num-
ber One Vamp of another era. I
remember a rather florid des-
cription in an old fan magazine
which said: “Her eyes are like
two moonlit waterholes, where
strange animals come to drink.”
A-36 SMALL STAIRCASE, LEAD- GILLIS’VOICE
ING TO ROOM OVER GARAGE I felt kind of pleased with
the way I’d handled the sit-
Max, an electric light uation. I’d dropped the hook,
bulb in his hand, is and she’d snapped at it. Now
leading Gillis up. my car would be safe down
Gillis carries a batch below, while I did a patch-
of the manuscript. up job on the script. And
there should be plenty of
money in it…
Max pushes open a door at the top of the stairs.
(Opening the door)
I made your bed this afternoon.
(On second thought)
How did you know I was going to
stay, this afternoon?
Max doesn’t answer. He walks across to the bed,
screws a bulb in the open socket above it. The
light goes on, revealing:
A-37 A GABLED BEDROOM
There are dirty windows on two sides, and dingy wall-
paper on the cracked plaster walls. For furniture
there is a neatly made bed, a table and a few chairs
which might have been discarded from the main house.
This room has not been used for
a long time.
It will never make house Beautiful.
I guess it’s O.K. for one night.
Max gives him an enigmatic look.
There is the bathroom. I put in
soap and a toothbrush.
(He starts taking off
Say, she’s quite a character,
that Norma Desmond.
She was the greatest. You wouldn’t
know. You are too young. In one
week she got seventeen thousand fan
letters. Men would bribe her mani-
curist to get clippings from her
fingernails. There was a Maharajah
who came all the way from Hyderabad
to get one of her stockings. Later,
he strangled himself with it.
I sure turned into an interesting
You did, sir.
He goes out. Gillis I pegged him as slightly
looks after him, hangs cuckoo, too. A stroke maybe.
his coat over a chair, Come to think of it, the
walks over to the win- whole place seemed to have
dow, pulls down the been stricken with a kind of
rickety Venetian blind. creeping paralysis, out of
As he does so, he looks beat with the rest of the
down at: world, crumbling apart in
slow motion …
A-38 THE TENNIS COURT OF GILLIS’ VOICE
THE DESMOND HOUSE There was a tennis court, or
(MOONLIGHT) rather the ghost of a tennis
court, with faded markings
The cement surface is and sagging net …
cracked in many places,
and weeds are growing
A-39 GILLIS – IN THE WINDOW
He looks away from the court to:
A-40 THE DESMOND SWIMMING
There is no water in And of course she had a pool.
it, and hunks of Who didn’t then? Mabel Norm-
mosaic which lines its and and John Gilbert must
enormous basin are have swum in it ten thousand
broken away. midnights ago, and Vilma Banky
and Rod La Roque. It was
empty now….or was it?
A-41 GILLIS – IN THE WINDOW
He stares down, his stomach slowly turning.
A-42 THE SWIMMING POOL
At the bottom of the basin a great rat is eating a
decaying or,ange. From the inlet pipe crawl two
other rats, who join battle with the first rat over
A-43 GILLIS -IN THE WINDOW
He starts away, but some- GILLIS’ VOICE
thing attracts his atten- There was something
tion. He turns back and else going on below:
looks down again. the last rites for
that hairy old chimp,
performed with the
A-44 THE LAWN BELOW utmost seriousness —
as if she were laying
Norma Desmond and Max are to rest an only child.
carrying the white coffin Was her life really
towards a small grave as as empty as that?
which has been dug in the
dead turf. Norma carries
one of the candelabra, all
of its candles flickering
in the wind. They reach
the grave and lower the
coffin into it. Then,
Norma lighting his task
with the candelabrum, Max
takes a spade from the
loose earth and starts
filling in the grave.
A-45 GILLIS – IN THE WINDOW
He watches the scene be- GILLIS’ VOICE
low, then turns into the It was all very queer,
room, goes to the door but queerer things
to lock it. There is no were yet to come.
key, and only a hole
where the lock has been
gouged out. Gillis moves
a heavy overstuffed chair
in front of the door, then
walks towards the bed,
throws himself on it,
picking up some of the
manuscript pages to read.
END OF SEQUENCE “A”
DISSOLVE IN ON:
B-1 LONG SHOT THE DESMOND
HOUSE – (MORNING)
The day is overcast. The SOUND: (Distant organ
house is shrouded in low music – improvisations
fog. on an odd, mournful
theme – not too loud,
B-2 THE TENNIS COURT, blurred the scene.)
over with fog.
B-3 THE EMPTY SWIMMING POOL
Its dark outline even more
melancholy under the misty
B-4 THE ROOM OVER THE GARAGE
Muted daylight seeps GILLIS’ VOICE
through the blinds. Gillis That night I’d had a
lies on the bed, under a mixed-up dream. In it
shabby quilt. The manu- was an organ grinder.
script is beside him, some I couldn’t see his
of the pages scattered on face, but the organ
the floor. He is just was all draped in
opening his eyes. It takes black, and a chimp was
him a moment to adjust him- dancing for pennies.
self to the strange sur- When I opened my eyes,
roundings. His eyes, wander- the music was still
ing about the room. suddenly there… Where was
stop, startled. He lifts I?
himself on one elbow and
stares at –
B-5 THE DOOR
The heavy chair he had set Oh yes, in that empty
against it the night before room over her garage.
has been pushed back. The Only it wasn’t empty
door is wide ajar. any more. Somebody
had brought in all my
belongings – my
B-6 GILLIS books, my typewriter,
He jumps out of bed. He
wears, shirt, trousers
and socks. Suddenly he
realizes that all his
possessions have GILLIS’ VOICE
been brought in. In What was going on?
the closet hang his
shirts. His books and
typewriter are neatly
arranged on the table.
combination is all
installed. Gillis looks
around startled, then
sits down and starts
putting on his moccasins
B-7 A PAIR OF HANDS IN WHITE GLOVES, PLAYING THE ORGAN
PULL BACK: They belong to Max von Mayerling. He
is sitting erect, his bull neck taut as a wrestler’s
as he rights out somber chord after somber chord.
He sits in a shaft of gray light coming from an open
Through the far archway, Gillis storms into the big
Hey, you — Max — whatever -your-
name-is — what are my things doing
I’m talking to you. My clothes
and things are up in the room.
Naturally. I brought them myself.
Is that so!
Why are you so upset? Is there
Who said you could? Who asked you to?
Norma Desmond’s shadow moves into the shaft of
Gillis looks around.
On the couch by the fireplace reclines Norma Desmond,
dressed in a negligee. She rises.
I don’t know why you should be
so upset. Stop that playing,
(To Gillis again)
It seemed like a good idea —
if we are to work together.
Look, I’m supposed to fix up
your script. There’s nothing
in the deal about my staying
You’ll like it here.
Thanks for the invitation, but
I have my own apartment.
You can’t work in an apartment
where you owe three months’ rent.
I’ll take care of that.
It’s all taken care of. It’s
all paid for.
I’m used to paying my own bills.
You proud boy, why didn’t you tell
me you were having difficulties.
Okay. We’ll deduct it from my
Now, now, don’t let’s be small
about such matters. We won’t
Go on, unpack Mr. Gillis’ things.
Unpack nothing. I didn’t say
I was staying.
(Her glasses off again)
Suppose you make up your mind.
Do you want this job or don’t you?
B-8 BIG ROOM, NORMA DESMOND’S
HOUSE – (DAY) GILLIS’ VOICE
Gillis sits at an impro- So I let him unpack my
vised table, his typewriter things. I wanted the
in front of him, working dough, and I wanted to
hard at the manuscript. get out of there as
Pencils, shears and a quickly as possible.
paste-pot at hand. I thought if I really
got going I could toss
Facing him at some dis- it off in a couple or
tance sits Norma,dressed weeks. But it wasn’t
in another version of her so simple, getting some
favorite lounging pajamas, coherence into that wild,
the cigaette contraption scrambled melodrama
on her finger. She is she’d concocted. What
autographing large photo- made it tougher was that
graphs of herself and put- she was around all the
ting them in envelopes. time — hovering over
me, afraid I’d do injury
to that precious brain-
child of hers.
Gillis takes two or three pages from Norma’s hand-
written script, crosses them out and puts them to
Norma rises, crosses towards Gillis, looks over his
Just a scene I cut out.
The one where you go to the slave
market. You can cut right to the
scene where John the Baptist –
Cut away from me?
Honestly, it’s a little old hat.
They don’t want that any more.
They don’t? Then why do they still
write me fan letters every day.
Why do they beg me for my photo-
graphs? Because they want to see
me, me, me! Norma Desmond.
He pulls the page from his typewriter. As he does
so he glances over towards Norma.
On the table in front I didn’t argue with her.
of her are the photo- You don’t yell at a
graphs which she is sign- sleepwalker– he may fall
ing. On the long table and break his neck.That’s
in the living room is a it — she was still
gallery of photographs sleepwalking along the
in various frames — all giddy heights of a lost
Norma Desmond. On the career –plain crazy
piano more photographs. when it came to that one
Above the piano an oil subject: her celluloid
portrait of her. On the self, the great Norma
highboy beside him still Desmond. How could She
more photographs. breathe in that house,
so crowded with Norma
DISSOLVE TO: Desmonds? More Norma
Desmond and still more
B-9 THE BIG ROOM – (NIGHT)
Shooting towards the big It wasn’t all work – of
Gold Rush painting. Max, course. Two or three
white gloves and all, times a week Max would
steps into the shot, shoves haul up that enormous oil
the painting up towards painting that had been
the ceiling,revealing a presented to her by some
motion picture screen. Nevada Chamber of Com-
Max exits. merce, and we’d see a
movie,right in her
B-1O NORMA AND GILLIS
They sit on a couch,facing “So much nicer than going
the screen. On a table in out,” she’d say. The
front of them are champagne, plain fact was that she
cigarettes and coffee. was afraid of that world
Above their heads are the outside. Afraid it
typical openings for a pro- would remind her that
jector. The lights go off. time had passed.
From the opening above
their heads shoots the wide
beam of light.
B-11 MAX, IN THE PROJECTION They were silent movies,
BOOTH BEHIND THE ROOM and Max would run the
projection machine, which
The light of the machine was just as well — it
flickering over his face, kept him from giving us
which is frozen, a somber an accompaniment on
enigma. that wheezing organ.
B-12 NORMA AND GILLIS
She’d sit very close to
watching the screen. me, and she’d smell of
Gillis looks down and sees tuberoses, which is not
that Norma’s hand is clasp- my favorite perfume, not
ing his ann tight. He by a long shot. Sometines
doesn’t like it much but as we watched, she’d c
he can’t do anything about lutch my arm or my hand
it. However. when she for forgetting she was my
a second lets go his arm employer becoming just a
to pick up a glass of fan, excited about that
champagne, he gently with- actress up there on the
draws his arm, leans away screen….I guess I don’t
from her and crosses his have to tell you who the
arms to discourage any star was. They were
resumption of her approach. always her pictures —
Norma puts the glass down that’s all she wanted
doesn’t find his arn, but to see.
is not aware of any signifi-
cance in his maneuver. They
both watch the screen.
B-13 THE OTHER END OF THE BIG ROOM. WITH THE SCREEN
On it flickers a famous scene from one of Norma’s old
silent pictures. It is not to be a funny scene. It
is old-fashioned, but shows her incredible beauty
and the screen presence which made her the great star
of her day.
B-14 NORMA AND GILLIS ON THE COUCH
Still wonderful, isn’t it? And
no dialogue. We didn’t need
dialogue. We had faces. There
just aren’t any faces like that
any more. Well, maybe one —
In a sudden flareup she jumps to her feet and stands
in the flickering beam of light.
Those idiot producers! Those
imbeciles! Haven’t they got any
eyes? Have they forgotten what
a star looks like? I’ll show them.
I’ll be up there again. So help me!
B-15 THE BIG ROOM – (NIGHT)
It is apparently empty. GILLIS’ VOICE
The elaborate lamps Sometimes there’d be a
make pools of light. little bridge game in the
house, at a twentieth-of-
THE CAMERA PULLS BACK a cent a point. I’d get
AND PANS to reveal a half her winnings. Once
card table around they ran up to seventy
which sit Norma and cents, which was about
three friends – three the only cash money I
actors of her period. ever got. The others
They sit erect and play around the table would
with grim seriousness. be actor friends – dim
figures you may still
Beside Norma sits remember from the silent
Gillis, kibitzing on a days. I used to think of
game which bores him them as her Wax Works.
extremely. An ashtray
on the card table is
full and Norma holds
it out for Gillis to
take away. He crosses
the room to the fire-
place. but his eyes
fall on the entrance
door and he stops.
B-16 THE ENTRANCE HALL – (FROM GILLIS’ POINT OF VIEW)
Max stands in the open door. Outside are the two
men who came to the apartment for Gillis’ car.
He steps back so that he cannot be seen from the
door. A second later Max appears, looking for him.
Some men are here. They asked
I’m not here.
That’s what I told them.
They found your car in the
garage. They are going to tow
Gillis doesn’t know what to do. From offstage
The ashtray, Joe dear! Can we
have the ashtray?
Gillis dumps the cigarette butts into the cold fire-
place, crosses to the bridge table, puts the
ashtray down, leans over and speaks into Norma’s ear.
I want to talk to you for a
Not now, my dear. I’m playing
three no trump.
They’ve come for my car.
Please. Now I’ve forgotten how
many spades are out.
I need some money right now.
Can’t you wait till I’m dummy?
(Angry by now)
Gillis stands frustrated, hideously embarrassed
by the stares of the waxworks. He turns away
and hurries to the door.
B-18 ENTRANCE DOOR TO THE HOUSE
It is half open. Gillis comes into the shot
and, taking cover, looks out.
B-19 COURTYARD (FROM GILLIS’ ANGLE)
The men from the finance company are cranking up
the car. Max stands watching silently. When they
finish the cranking job, the men climb into the
front seat of the truck.
B-2O GILLIS – AT THE DOOR
Over the shot the SOUND of the truck being started
and the cars moving away. Gillis moves out into
the courtyard and stands staring after the car.
From the house comes Norma.
Now what is it? Where’s the
I’ve lost my car.
Oh…and I thought it was a
matter of life and death.
It is to me. That’s why I came
to this house. That’s why I took
this job — ghost writing!
Now you’re being silly. We don’t
need two cars. We have a car. And
not one of thuse cheap new things
made of chromium and spit. An
Isotta-Fraschini. Have you ever
heard of Isotta-Fraschinis? All
hand-made. Cost me twenty-eight
THE CAMERA HAS PANNED over to the garage and FOCUSES
on the dirty Isotta-Fraschini on its blocks.
B-21 NORMA’S ISOTTA-FRASCHINI
DRIVING IN THE HILLS
ABOVE SUNSET (DAY)
Max is at the wheel, GILLIS’ VOICE
dressed as usual except So Max got that old bus
for a chauffeurfs cap. down off its blocks and
polished it up. She’d
take me for rides in the
B-22 INSIDE THE CAR hills above Sunset.
Gillis sits beside Norma, The whole thing was up-
who is wearing a smart holstered in leopard
tailleur and her eternal skin, and had one of
sun glasses. Gillis those car phones, all
wears his sport jacket- gold-plated.
He sits uncomfortably. Norma is studying him.
That’s a dreadful shirt you’re
What’s wrong with It?
Nothing, if you work in a fill-
ing station. And I’m getting
rather bored with that sport
jacket, and those same baggy
(She picks up
the car phone)
Max, what’s a good men’s shop
in town? The very best…
Well, go there !
I don’t need any clothes, and
I certainly don’t want you buy-
ing them for —
Why begrudge me a little fun?
I just want you to look nice,
my stray little boy.
By this time Max has made a U-turn.
QUICK DISSOLVE TO:
B-23 INT. MEN’S DEPARTMENT, AN ELEGANT WILSHIRE STORE
Gillis stands in front of a full-length triple mirror,
surrounded by a couple of salesmen and the tailor, who
is busily working out alterations.
Gillis wears a double-breasted gray flannel coat with
chalk stripes. His trousers belong to another suit
of glen plaid. Norma is running the show.
There’s nothing like gray flannel
with a chalk stripe.
(she points at
This one single-breasted, of course.
(to another salesman)
Now we need a topcoat. Let’s see
what you have in camel’s hair.
The salesman leaves.
How about some evening clothes?
I don’t need a tuxedo.
Of course you do. A tuxedo and
Tails. That’s ridiculous.
You’ll need them for parties.
You’ll need them for New Year’s
(to a salesman)
Where are your evening clothes?
This way, Madame.
He leads her off. The other salesman arrives with a
selection of topcoats.
Here are some camel hairs, but
I’d like you just to feel this
one. It’s Vicuna. Of course,
it’s a little more expensive.
A camel’s hair will do.
(With an insulting
As long as the lady is paying
for it, why not take the Vicuna?
END OF SEQUENCE “B”
C-1 LONG SHOT DESMOND HOUSE
A day in December. Rain.
QUICK DISSOLVE TO:
C-2 INT. ROOM OVER GARAGE
Water is drizzling from GILLIS’ VOICE
two or three spots in the The last week in December
ceiling into pans and the rains came — a great
bowls set to catch it, big package of rain.
one bowl right on the Over-sized, like every-
bed. The room is almost thing else in California.
emptied of Gillis’ be-
longings by now. Max It came right through
is carrying out a hand- the old roof of my room
full of new suits on above the garage. She
hangers. He has a had Max move me to the
dressing gown over his main house. I didn’t
shoulder. Gillis holds much like the idea — the
a stack of shirts, his only time I could have
typewriter, and some to myself was in that
manuscript. He surveys room — but it was better
the room for the last than sleeping in a rain-
time, to see whether coat and galoshes.
he’s forgotten any-
thing. He has. He
puts down the typewriter
and picks up from under
the bed a pair of very
smart red leather bedroom
slippers. He tucks them
under his arm, picks up
the typewriter and leaves.
QUICK DISSOLVE TO:
C-3 A BEDROOM IN TIiE MAIN HOUSE
It is obviously a man’s room — heavy Spanish
furniture — one wall nothing but a closet with
shelves and drawers for shirts and shoes. Max is
hanging up the suits. Gillis throws the shirts on
a big chair, tosses the slippers at the foot of the
bed, places the typewriter and manuscript on a desk
at the window.
Whose room was this?
It was the room of the husband.
Or of the husbands, I should say.
Madame has been married three
Slightly embarrassed, Gillis picks up his toilet
kit with razor, toothbrushes, soap, etc., and starts
towards the bathroom, pausing en route at a rain-
I guess this is the one you
can see Catalina from. Only
this isn’t the day.
He proceeds towards the half-opened door leading
to the bathroom. Something strikes his attention
and he stops. As in the door to the room above
the garage, this lock, too, has been gouged out.
Hey, what’s this with the
door? There isn’t any lock.
There are no locks anywhere
in this house.
He points to the entrance door of the room, and to
The doctor suggested it.
Madame’s doctor. She has moments
of melancholy. There have been
some suicide attempts.
We have to be very careful. No
sleeping pills, no razor blades.
We shut off the gas in her bed-
Why? Her career? She got enough
out of it. She’s not forgotten.
She still gets those fan letters.
I wouldn’t look too closely at the
You send them. Is that it, Max?
I’d better press your evening
clothes, sir. You have not for-
gotten Madame’s New Year’s party.
No, I haven’t. I suppose all
the waxworks are coming?
I don’t know, sir. Madame made
Max leaves. Gillis comes out of the bathroom, picks
up his shirts, goes over to a closet, opens it. As
he does so one of the doors without a lock swings
slightly open. Gillis looks through the half-open
door and sees.
C-4 NORMA DESMOND’S ROOM
It is empty. The rainy GILLIS’ VOICE
day does nothing to There it was again – that
help its gloom. room of hers, all satin and
ruffles, and that bed like
a gilded rowboat. The per-
fect setting for a silent
movie queen. Poor devil,
still waving proudly to a
parade which had long since
passed her by.
He pushes the door shut
and walks back into the
C-5 STAIRCASE OF DESMOND
Gillis is coming down the GILLIS’ VOICE
stairs in his tailcoat It was at her New Year’s
adjusting the handkerchief party that I found out
in his pocket. He obviously how she felt about me.
feels a little uneasy in Maybe I’d been an idiot
this outfit. From below not to have sensed it
comes a tango of the Twen- was coming – that sad,
ties. played by a small embarrassing revelation.
orchestra. Gillis stops
in the archway leading to
the big room and looks
C-6 THE BIG ROOM has been deco-
rated for the occasion with
laurel garlands. Dozens of
candles in all the sconces
and candelabra are ablaze.
Their flickering flames are
reflected in the waxed sur=
face of the tile floor.
There is a buffet, with
buckets of champagne and
caviar on ice. In one corner
on a little platform banked
with palms. a four-piece
orchestra is playing.
At the buffet are Max and Norma. She is drinking
a glass of champagne. She is wearing a diamonte
evening dress. very high style. with long black
gloves and a headdress of paradise feathers. Her
eyes fall on Gillis. She puts down the glass of
champagne. picks up a gardenia boutonniere and
moves toward him.
Joe, you look absolutely
divine. Turn around!
Gillis makes a slow 36O-degree turn.
Perfect. Wonderful shoulders.
And I love that line.
She indicates the V from his shoulders to his hips.
All padding. Don’t let it fool
She puts the gardenia on his lapel.
You know, to me dressing up
was always just putting on
my dark blue suit.
I don’t like those studs they’ve
sent. I want you to have pearls.
Nice big pearls.
Now, I’m not going to wear ear-
rings, I can tell you that.
Cute. Let’s have some drinks.
She leads him over to the buffet.
Shouldn’t we wait for the others?
(Pointing at the floor)
Careful, it’s slippery. I
had it waxed.
They reach the buffet. Max is ready with two
glasses of champagne. Norma hands Gillis a glass.
Here’s to us.
You know, this floor used to
be wood but I had it changed.
Valentino said there is nothing
like tiles for a tango.
She opens her arms.
Not on the same floor with
Just follow me.
They start to tango. After a moment —
Don’t bend back like that.
It’s those feathers. They tickle.
Norma pulls the paradise feathers from her hair
and tosses them away.
C-7 THE ORCHESTRA
As they play the tango, the musicians eye the danc-
ing couple, take in the situation, exchange glances
and turn away with professional discretion.
C-8 NORMA AND GILLIS, TANGOING
Gillis glances at his wrist watch.
It’s a quarter past ten. What
time are they supposed to get
The other guests?
There are no other guests. We
don’t want to share this night
with other people. This is for
you and me.
I understand some rich guy bought
up all the tickets for a perfor-
mance at the Metropolitan and sat
there listening to La Traviata,
all by himself. He was afraid of
Hold me tighter.
Come midnight, how about blind-
folding the orchestra and smash-
ing champagne glasses on Max’s
You think this is all very funny.
Is it funny that I’m in love
I’m in love with you. Don’t you
know that? I’ve been in love
with you all along.
They dance on. Gillis is acutely embarrassed.
THE CAMERA SLOWLY PULLS BACK, PANS past the faces
of the musicians, who play on with a rather overe-
mphasized lack of interest. Finally it winds up
on Max, behind the buffet. He stands watching Gillis,
a faint trace of pity in his eyes.
C-9 NORMA’S FINGER, WITH THE
CIGARETTE GADGET, as she GILLIS’ VOICE
inserts a cigarette. I’m sure a lot of you will
laugh about this. Ridicu-
lous situation, wasn’t it?
— a woman almost twice my
age … It got to be about
a quarter of eleven. I
felt caught, like a cig-
arette in the prongs of
that contraption on her
PULL BACK TO:
NORMA AND GILLIS sitting on a couch in front of the
cavernous fireplace. Norma holds out her cigarette
to Gillis, who lights it.
What a wonderful next year it’s
going to be. What fun we’re going
to have. I’II fill the pool for
you. Or I’ll open my house in
Malibu, and you can have the whole
ocean. Or I’ll buy you a boat
and we’ll sail to Hawaii.
Stop it. You aren’t going to buy
me anything more.
Don’t be silly.
(She reaches under a
pillow of the couch
and brings out a
Here. I was going to give it to
you at midniglht.
Gillis opens the box. It contains a matched gold
cigarette case and lighter.
Read what’s inside.
Gillis snaps open the case. Engraved inside the
cover is: TO JOE FROM NORMA, and two bars of
What are the notes?
“Mad about the boy.”
Norma, I can’t take it. You’ve
bought me enough.
Shut up. I’m rich. I’m richer
than all this new Hollywood trash.
I’ve got a million dollars.
I own three blocks downtown.
I have oil in Bakersfield —
pumping, pumping, pumping.
What’s it for but to buy us
anything we want.
Cut out that us business.
What’s the matter with you?
What right do you have to take
me for granted?
What right? Do you want me to
Has it ever occurred that I may
have a life of my own? That there
may be some girl I’m crazy about?
Who? Some car hop, or a dress
Why not? What I’m trying to say
is that I’m all wrong for you.
You want a Valentino — somebody
with polo ponies — a big shot —
(Getting up slowly)
What you’re trying to say is
that you don’t want me to love
you. Is that it?
Gillis doesn’t answer. Norma slaps his face and
rushes from the room and upstairs.
Gillis stands paralyzed, the slap burning his cheek.
C-1O THE TOP OF THE STAIRCASE AND CORRIDOR
Norma rushes up the last few steps, down the corridor
and into her bedroom, banging the door. MOVE THE
CAMERA toward the closed door, centering on the
C-11 GILLIS, IN THE BIG ROOM
He still stands motionless. He glances around fur-
tively, to see if his humiliation has been observed.
C-12 THE ORCHESTRA
The musicians are playing away. They have turned
their eyes away from Gillis rather too ostentatious-
ly for comfort.
His eyes move over toward
He is subtler than the musicians. He appears very
busy at the buffet, putting empty bottles and used
glasses on a tray. He walks across the room with
He starts slowly out. As he does so his long gold
key chain catches on a carved ornament of the sofa
and holds him for a second of additional embarrass-
ment. He yanks it loose and walks with as much
nonchalance as he can muster to
C-16 THE HALL
Crossing towards the coat closet, Gillis throws a
look upstairs. Then he pulls the Vicuna coat from
its hangar and slips into it as he crosses to the
entrance door. He opens the door on the darkness
of the courtyard.
C-17 EXT. DESMOND HOUSE
(NIGHT – RAIN)
Gillis shuts the door. GILLIS’VOICE
He takes a few steps I didn’t know where I was
forward, then stands going. I just had to get
for a while breathing out of there. I had to be
deep. The rain is with people my own age. I
balm to that cheek had to hear somebody laugh
where the slap still a again. I thought of Artie
burns. He walks for- Green. There was bound to
ward with a great be a New Year’s shindig
sense of relief. going on in his apartment
down on Las Palmas — the
hock shop set — not a job
C-18 DRIVEWAY LEADING TO in the room. but lots of
fun on the cuff.
Gillis walks to the
street, which is dark
and empty. He starts
down Sunset in an
A car passes. He
tries to thumb a
ride, without success.
However, the second
car, a florist’s
delivery wagon, stops.
Gillis jumps in and the
car drives off.
C-19 ARTIE GREEN’S APARTMENT
It is the most modest one-room affair, jam packed
with young people flowing over into the miniature
bathroom and the microscopic kitchenette. The only
drink being served is punch from a pressed-glass
bowl — but everybody is having a hell of a time.
Most of the men are in slacks and sweaters, and only
a few of the girls in something that vaguely suggests
Abe Burroughs sits at a small, guest-festooned piano
and sings Tokio Rose. By the door, a group of young
men and girls respond to the song by sing1ng Rinso
White or Dentyne Chewing Gum or something similar,
in the manner of a Bach choral. Artie Green, a dark
haired, pleasant-looking guy in his late twenties,
is conducting with the ladle from the punch bowl.
The door behind some of the singers is pushed open,
jostling them out of their places. In comes Gillis,
his hair and face wet, the collar of his Vicuna coat
turned up. Artie stops conducting, but the commer-
cial goes right on.
Well, what do you know ! Joe
Where have you been keeping that
gorgeous face of yours?
In a deep freeze.
I almost reported you to the Bureau
of Missing Persons.
(To the company)
Fans, you all know Joe Gillis, the
well-known screen writer, opium
smuggler and Black Dahlia suspect.
Gillis greets some of the kids by name as he and
Artie push their way into the room.
Give me your coat.
Let it ride for a while.
You’re going to stay, aren’t you?
That was the general idea.
Artie starts peeling the coat off Gillis. Its
texture takes his breath away.
What is this – mink?
He has taken the coat. He looks at Gillis standing
there in tails.
Judas E. Priest, who did you
borrow that from? Adolphe
Close, but no cigar.
Gillis stands embarrassed While Artie rolls up the
Vicuna coat and tucks it above the books on a book-
Say, you’re not really smuggling
opium these days, are you?
Where’s the bar?
The two make their way toward the punch bowl. It’s
a little like running the gauntlet for Gillis. There
are whistles and ‘stares of astonishlnent at his tails.
When they reach the punch bowl, Artie picks up a
half-filled glass and fills it.
The greatest. They call me the Elsa
Maxwell of the assistant directors.
(To some guests who are
dipping their empty cups
into the punch bowl)
Hey, easy on the punch bowl. Budget
only calls for three drinks per extra.
Fake the rest.
Listen, Artie, can I stick around
here for a while?
Sure, this’ll go on all night.
I mean, could you put me up for
a couple of weeks?
It just so happens we have a
vacancy on the couch.
I’ll take it.
I’ll have the bell-hop take care
of your luggage.
He runs his finger across the decollete back of a
girl standing in a group next them.
Just register here.
The girl turns around. She is Betty Schaefer.
Hello, Mr. Gillis.
You know each other?
Gillis looks at her a little puzzled.
Let me help you. Betty Schaeter,
Sure. Bases Loaded.
Wait a minute. This is the woman
I love. What’s going on? Who
Don’t worry. She’s just a fan
for my literary output.
Hurt feelings department.
About that luggage. Where’s
Over by the Rainbow Room.
Gillis squeezes his way through groups of people
to the telephone, which is next to an open door
leading to the bathroom. The phone is busy. A
girl sits listening to it, giggling wildly. Another
girl beside her is laughing too. They are apparently
sharing a conversation with some man on the other end
of the wire. The telephone passes from hand to hand.
Gillis watches impatiently, then
When youlre through with that
thing, can I have it?
The girl just nods, going on with her chattering.
Gillis stands waiting, and Betty Schaefer comes up
with his glass.
You forgot this.
I’ve been hoping to run into you.
What for? To recover that knife
you stuck in my back?
I felt a little guilty, so I got
out some of your old stories.
Why, you sweet kid.
There’s one called….Window…
something with a window.
Dark Windows. How did you
Except for about six pages.
You’ve got a flashback there …
There is too much racket for her.
Is there someplace we can talk?
How about the Rainbow Room?
They squeeze their way towards the bathroom, past
I said you could have my couch.
I didn’t say you could have my
This is shop talk.
She and Gillis go through the open door into
C-20 ARTIE’S BATHROOM
It’s a little less noisy, although there are some
guests there, chatting and having fun. Betty and
Gillis sit down on the edge of the tub.
Now if I got you correctly, there
was a short stretch of my fiction
you found worthy of notice.
The flashback in the courtroom,
when she tells about being a
I had a teacher like that once.
Maybe that’s why it’s good.
It’s true, it’s moving. Now
why don’t you use that character…
Who wants true? Who wants moving?
Drop that attitude. Here’s some-
thing really worth while.
Want me to start right now?
Maybe there’s some paper around.
I’m serious. I’ve got a few ideas.
I’ve got some ideas myself. One
of them being this is New Year’s
Eve. How about living it up a
As for instance?
We could make some paper boats
and have a regatta. Or should
we just turn on the shower?
How about capturing the kitchen
and barricading the door?
Are you hungry?
Hungry? After twelve years in
the Burmese jungle. I am starving,
Lady Agatha — starving for a
white shoulder —
Phillip, you’re mad!
One of the girls who was on the phone comes to
You can have the phone now.
(Paying no attention)
Thirsting for the coolness of
your lips –
No, Phillip, no. We must be
strong. You’re still wearing
the uniform of the Coldstream
Guards! Furthermore, you can
have the phone now.
(He gets up, starts
I find I’m terribly afraid of
(She takes the glass
out of his hand)
I’ll get us a refill of
this awful stuff.
You’ll be waiting for me?
With a wildly beating heart.
Life can be beautiful!
C-21 THE MAIN ROOM
Gillis squeezes himself through some guests to
the phone. He has to stand in a cramped position,
holding the instrument close to him as he dials
Max? This is Mr. Gillis.
I want you to do me a favor.
C-22 NORMA DESMOND HOUSE
Max is at the phone, in the lower hall.
I am sorry, Mr. Gillis.
I cannot talk now.
C-23 GILLIS ON THE PHONE
Yes you can. I want you to get
my old suitcase and I want you
to throw in my old clothes —
the ones I came with, and my
typewriter. I’ll have somebody
pick them up.
C-24 MAX AT THE PHONE
I have no time to talk. The
doctor is here.
C-25 GILLIS ON THE PHONE
What doctor? What’s going on?
C-26 MAX AT THE PHONE
She got the razor from your
room. She cut her wrists.
Max hangs up, moves toward the staircase.
C-27 GILLIS AT THE PHONE
Max ! Max !
He hangs up the dead receiver, stands numb with
shock. Betty elbows her way up to him, carrying
the two punch glasses filled again.
I just got the recipe: take
two packages of cough drops,
dissolve in one gallon of
lukewarm grape juice —
Gillis looks up at her. Without a word he pushes
her aside so that she spills the drink. He makes
his way through the guests to the Vicuna coat, pulls
it from the shelf, some books tumbling with it, and
rushes towards the door and out. Betty stands look-
ing after him, completely bewildered.
C-28 EXT. DESMOND HOUSE – (NIGHT, RAIN)
The doctor’s car is parked in the driveway. A taxi
pulls up. Gillis, in his Vicuna coat now, jumps
out, throws a couple of dollars to the rdriver and
runs toward the house.
C-28a DOORWAY, NORMA DESMOND HOUSE>
Max is opening the door to let out the doctor, a
professional looking man carrying a black bag.
Gillis runs into the SHOT.
How is she?
She is upstairs.
Gillis starts to push past Max. Max grabs his arm.
Be careful. Do not race up the
stairs. The musicians must not
know what has happened.
Gillis goes into the house.
C-29 ENRANCE HALL AND STAIRCASE
Gillis crosses the hall and starts up the stairs.
C-3O INT. NORMA DESMOND’S ROOM
Only one alabaster lamp lights the big, cold room.
On the bed lies Norma in her evening dress. She is
white as a sheet. Her wrists are bandaged. Her eyes
are wide open, staring at the ceiling. One of her
shoes has halt slipped off her foot. The other is
on. Gillis opens the door and stands there tor a
second. Then he slowly moves to the toot of the bed.
He takes the shoes from her feet and puts them on
What kind of a silly thing was
that to do?
To fall in love with you — that
was the idiotic thing.
It sure would have made attractive
headlines: Great Star Kills Her-
self for Unknown Writer.
Great stars have great pride.
She puts one bandaged forearm over her eyes, sobbing.
Gillis walks slowly over to the mantelpiece, stands
there for awhile.
Go away. Go to that girl of yours.
Look, I was making that up because
I thought the whole thing was a
mistake. I didn’t want to hurt you.
You’ve been good to me. You’re the
only person in this stinking town
that has been good to me.
Why don’t you just say thank you
and go, go, go —
Not until you promise to act like
a sensible human being.
I’ll do it again, I’ll do it again,
I’ll do it again!
Gillis stands looking at her helplessly.
C-31 LIVING ROOM, THE DESMOND HOUSE
The candles burned down, the orchestra playing to
the emptiness. The orchestra leader looks at his
watch, rises, silences the orchestra, then starts
them in on Auld Lang Syne.
C-32 INT. NORMA’S ROOM
Gillis still stands. Norma lies on the bed, arms
over her eyes, sobbing.
Happy New Year.
Norma continues to sob. Gillis goes to the bed,
puts his arms on her shoulders and turns her around.
Happy New Year.
Norma looks at him, tears in her eyes. Slowly she
enfolds him in her bandaged arms.
Happy New Year. darling.
She kisses him.
END OF SEQUENCE “C”
DISSOLVE IN ON:
D-1 INT. HALLWAY, NORMA GILLIS’ VOICE
DESMOND’S HOUSE (DAY) Around the middle of May
some incidents happened
The telephone is heard which I think I should tell
ringing. Max comes from you about.
living room to the phone,
picks it up.
Hello … Yes?
D-1a BETTY SCHAEFER, AT THE PHONE ON HER DESK IN THE
Is this Crestview 5-1733? … I’m
sorry to bother you again, but I’ve
confirmed the number. I must speak
to Mr. Gillis.
D-1b MAX, AT THE PHONE
He is not here.
D-1c BETTY ON THE PHONE
Where can I reach him? Maybe
somebody else in the house could
D-1d MAX ON THE PHONE
Nobody here can give you any
information. You will please
not call again.
He hangs up. From off comes:
Who was it, Max? What is it?
D-1e PATIO, NORMA’S HOUSE
It is a sunny day. The garden is in somewhat better
shape. The old house looks less unkept. The pool
is filled. Norma sits on a wicker chaise longue, her
face shielded by an enormous straw hat, her eyes by
dark glasses. Gillis, in bathing trunks, is on a
rubber mattress in the pool. Max comes to the
Nothing, Madame. Somebody Inqu-
iring about a stray dog. We must
have a number very similar to the
He starts to turn back.
Wait a minute. I want you to get
out the car. You’re going to
take the script over to Paramount
and deliver it to Mr. De Mille in
He goes into the house.
of the water)
You’re really going to send it
to De Mille?
This is the right day.
She indicates a typewritten letter she is holding.
The chart from my astrologer.
She read deMille’s horoscope.
She read mine.
Did she read the script?
DeMille is Leo. I’m Scorpio.
Mars has been transmitting
Jupiter for weeks. Today is
the day of greatest conjuction.
Now turn around. Let me dry
She puts the towel around his sholders and starts
I hope you realize, Norma,
that scripts don’t sell on
I’m not just selling the script.
I’m selling me. DeMille always
said I was his greatest star.
When did he say it, Norma?
So he said it quite a few years
ago. So what? I never looked
better in my life. Do you know
why? Because I’ve never been as
happy in my life.
She kisses him.
D-2 INT. THE ISOTTA, DRIVING
DOWN SUNSET ABOUT 8:30
IN THE EVENING GILLIS’ VOICE
A few evenings later we
Max is driving. In the were going to the house of
tonneau sit Norma, in a one of the waxworks for
chinchilla wrap, and some bridge. She’d taught
Gillis in his tuxedo. me how to play bridge by
Norma is rummaging then, just as she’d taught
through her evening me some fancy tango steps,
bag. She finds a and what wine to drink
cigarette case, opens with what fish.
it. It is empty.
That idiot. He forgot to fill
my cigarette case.
(Proffering his case)
Have one of mine.
They’re awful. They make me cough.
(Pushing open the glass
partition, to Max)
Pull up at the drugstore, will
I’ll get you some.
You’re a darling.
She takes a dollar bill from her purse and gives it
D-3 EXT. SCHWAB’S DRUGSTORE
The car drives up and Gillis hurries into the store.
D-4 INT. SCHWAB’S DRUGSTORE
Business is still rather lively. There are about a
dozen shoppers, and the soda counter is half filled.
Gillis enters and steps to the tobacco counter.
(To the salesgirl)
Give me a pack of those Turkish
cigarettes — Melachrinos.
The girl opens the glass showcase to locate the fancy
brand. From OFF comes
Stick ’em up, Gillis, or I’ll
let you have it!
D-5 AT THE SODA FOUNTAIN
Artie Green and Betty Schaefer sit having a sandwich
and a milk shake. With his forefinger and a sound
effect, Artie riddles Gillis’ body. Gillis walks
INTO THE SHOT.
Hello, Artie. Good evening,
You don’t know how glad I am
to see youl
Walking out on the mob. What’s
the big idea?
I’m sorry about New Year’s. Would
you believe me if I said I had
to be with a sick friend?
Someone in the formal set, no
doubt, with a ten-carat kidney
Stop it, Artie, will you?
Where have you been keeping your-
self? I’ve got the most wonderful
news for you.
I haven’t been keeping myself at
all. Not lately.
I called your agent. I called the
Screen Writers Guild. Finally your
old apartment gave me some Crestview
number. There was always somebody
with an accent growling at me. You
were not there. You were not to be
spoken to. They never heard of you.
Is that so? What’s the wonderful
Sheldrake likes that angle about
Dark Windows. I got him all
hopped up about it.
He thinks it could be made into
Into what? A lampshade?
Into something for Barbara Stan-
wyck. They have a commitment with
Unless you’d rather have Sarah
This is on the level. Sheldrake
really went for it.
O.K. Where’s the cash?
Where’s the story? I bluffed it
out with a few notions of my own.
It’s really just a springboard.
It needs work.
I was afraid of that.
I’ve got twenty pages of notes.
I’ve got a pretty good character
for the man.
Could you write in plenty of back-
ground action, so they’ll need an
extra assistant director?
Shut up, Artie.
Now if we could sit down for two
weeks and get a story.
Sorry, Miss Schaefer, but I’ve
given up writing on spec.
I tell you this is half sold.
As a matter of fact. I’ve given
up writing altogether.
Max has appeared in the door.
Mr. Gillis, if you please.
Right with you.
The accent! I’ve got it: this guy
is in the pay of a foreign government.
Get those studs. Get those cuff-links.
I’ve got to run along. Thanks any-
way for your interest in my career.
It’s not your career — it’s mine.
I kind of hoped to get in on this
deal. I don’t want to be a reader
all my life. I want to write.
Sorry if I crossed you up.
You sure have.
(Patting her hand)
Babe, it’s like that producer says:
In life, you’ve got to take the
bitter with the sour.
D-6 THE ISOTTA, PARKED OUTSIDE
Gillis comes from Schwab’s, gets into the car.
Max takes off.
What on earth, darling? It took
I ran into some people I knew.
Where are my cigarettes?
Where are your…?
He realizes he’s forgotten them, takes the dollar
and hands it back to her.
Norma, you’re smoking too much.
D-7 LIVING ROOM, NORMA
Start on a tiny GILLIS’ VOICE
parasol being Whenever she suspected I
twirled…Norma was getting bored, she
peeks out from one would put on a live show
side of the parasol, for me: the Norma Desmond
a bandanna tied Follies. Her first number
around her head with was always the Mack Sennett
a rabbit’s-ear bow. Bathing Beauty.
She bats her eyes,
THE CAMERA PULLS BACK to reveal that Norma’s black
pyjama trousers are rolled up over her knees and her
black stockings rolled down below them. The whole
effect approximates a Mack Sennett bathing costume
pretty effectively. She points at a leather pour.
This is a rock.
She climbs on it, pantomimes timidity, an attempted
dive, then jumps off.
Gillis lolls on a couch, watching the performance,
I can still see myself in the
line: Bebe Daniels, Marie Prevost,
Mabel Normand … Mabel was always
stepping on my feet …What’s the
matter with you, darling? Why are
you so glum?
(Lighting a cigarette
with a match)
Nothing is the matter. I’m having
a great time. Show me some more.
(Taking the match)
All right. Give me this. I need
it for a moustache. Now close
She runs out of the GILLIS’ VOICE
picture. Gillis has Something was the matter,
closed his eyes. all right. I was thinking
THE CAMERA MOVES to about that girl of Artie’s,
his face. that Miss Schaefer. She
was so like all us writers
when we first hit Holly-
wood — itching with am-
bition, panting to get
your names up there:
Screenplay by. Original
Story by. Hmph! Audiences
don’t know somebody sits
down and writes a picture.
They think the actors make
it up as they go along.
Open your eyes.
Gillis opens his eyes.
Norma has equipped herselr with a derby hat, a cane,
and blacked in a small moustache. She goes into a
little Chaplin routine. While she is doing it, the
telephone rings. After a moment Max comes to the
living room door.
Madame is wanted on the telephone.
You know better than to interrupt me.
Paramount is calling.
Now, now do you belive me? I told
you deMille would jump at it.
It is not Mr. deMille in person.
It is someone by the name or Gordon
Cole. He says it’s very important.
Certainly it’s important. It’s
important enough for Mr. deMille
to call me personally. The idea
of having an assistant call me!
I myself was surprised at Mr. de
Say that I’m busy, and hang up.
Very good, Madam.
He bows and exits.
How do you like that? We’ve
made twelve pictures together.
His greatest successes.
Maybe deMille is shooting.
I know that trick! He wants to
belittle me. He’s trying to get
my price down. I’ve waited
twenty years for this call. Now
Mr. deMille can wait till I’m
good and ready.
D-8 NORMA, IN THE TONNEAU
OF THE LIMOUSINE,
DRIVING DOWN MELROSE
She is in full makeup, GILLIS’ VOICE
with a veil, a daring About three days later she
hat, a suit so stunning was good and ready. In-
only she would venture credible as it may seem,
to wear it. THE CAMERA there had been some more
PULLS BACK. Beside her of those calls from
sits Gillis in the glen Paramount. So she put on
plaid suit. Max is about half a pound of
driving. makeup, fixed it up with
a veil, and set forth to
see deMille in person.
Norma is examining her face in the mirror of her
vanity. Max, while driving, sees her in the rear
If you will pardon me, Madame.
The shadow over the left eye
is not quite balanced.
Thank you, Max.
With a handkerchief, she corrects it.
D-9 MAIN GATE, EXT. PARAMOUNT STUDIO
The car drives down Bronson and stops smack in front
of the iron gate. A young policeman is talking to
an extra; an old policeman sits reading a newspaper.
Max sounds the horn impatiently.
Hold that noise!
To see Mr. de Mille. Open the gate.
Mr. deMille is shooting. You
got an appointment?
No appointment is necessary. I
am bringing Norma Desmond.
Norma has rolled down the window on her side. She
calls to the old policeman.
Jonesy! Come here, Jonesy!
(He comes forward slowly)
Why, if it isn’t Miss Desmond!
How have you been, Miss Desmond?
Fine, Jonesy. Now open that gate.
Sure, Miss Desmond.
(To the young policeman}
Come on, Mac.
They can’t drive on the lot
without a pass.
Miss Desmond can. Come on.
They fling open the gate.
(As the car drives through)
Stage eighteen, Miss Desmond.
Thank you, Jonesy. And teach
your friend some manners. Tell
him without me he wouldn’t have
any job, because without me there
wouldn’t be any Paramount Studio.
They drive through the gates. The old policeman
goes to wall phone beside the gate, dials a number.
Norma Desmond coming in to
see Mr. deMille.
D-10 STAGE 18
A scene from SAMPSON AND DELILAH is being rehearsed
in the background. The usual turbulent activity
surrounds it: extras. makeup men, grips,
assistants, etc., etc. In the dim foreground a
stage hand is answering a stand telephone. He
puts down the phone and moves (CAMERA WITH HIM)
to a second assistant.
Norma Desmond is coming to see
The second assistant walks (CAMERA WITH HIM)
to the first assistant.
Norma Desmond coming in to
see Mr. deMille.
The first assistant (CAMERA WITH HIM) hurries
to the set. Sitting with his back toward us
is C.B. himself. He is rehearsing a scene with
Norma Desmond is coming in to
see you, Mr. deMille.
C. B. turns his head.
She must be a million years old.
I hate to think where that puts
me. I could be her father.
I’m terribly sorry, Mr. de Mille.
By this time de Mille is on his feet.
It must be about that appalling
script of hers. What can I say
to her? What can I say?
I can tell her you’re all tied
up in the projection room. I
can give her the brush …
Listen, thirty million fans
have given her the brush.
Isn’t that enough?
I didn’t mean to —
Of course you didn’t. You didn’t
know Norma Desmond as a plucky
little girl of seventeen, with
more courage and wit and heart
than ever came together in one
I hear she was a terror to
She got to be. A dozen press
agents working overtime can
do terrible things to the human
(to the set)
He leaves, accompanied by his entourage.
D-11 EXT. STAGE 18
Norma’s limousine drives up. Max dismounts
and opens the door.
(taking Gillis’s hand)
Don’t you want to come along,
I don’t think so. It’s your
script. It’s your show.
Thank you, darling.
She presses his hand against her cheek, descends
from the car and walks toward –
D-12 THE DOOR OF STAGE 18
The first assistant is holding it open. In the door-
way stands Mr. deMille. Seeing Norma, he stretches
out his arms.
Hello, young fellow.
Hello, Mr. deMille.
She has reached him. They embrace.
Last time I saw you was someplace
very gay. I remember waving to you.
I was dancing on a table.
Lots of people were. Lindbergh had
just landed in Paris. Come on in.
He leads her into
D-13 STAGE 18
During the ensuing dialogue, Mr. deMille walks Norma
towards the set.
Norma, I want to apologize for
not calling you.
You’d better. I’m very angry.
I’m pretty busy, as you can see…
That’s no excuse. You read the
script, didn’t you?
Yes, I did.
Then you could have picked up the
phone yourself instead of leaving
it to one of your assistants.
Don’t play innocent. Somebody
named Gordon Cole.
And if you hadn’t been pretty
darned interested in that script,
he wouldn’t have tried to get
me on the phone ten times.
Gordon Cole… Look, Norma,
I’m in the middle of a rehearsal.
Make yourself comfortable.
He walks onto the set, accompanied by his assistants.
(Sotto voce, to his
Get me Gordon Cole on the phone.
Meanwhile, Norma starts to sit, sees the name
MISS LAMARR on the chair and with a look of
distaste changes and sits on the one marked
C.B. DE MILLE. From somewhere comes
Hey, Miss Desmond! Miss Desmond!
She looks around her.
Norma looks up at the scaffolding.
On the scaffold stands one of the electricians,
next to his light.
It’s met It’s Hog-eyel
Norma waves at him.
Hog-eye points his light at her.
Let’s get a look at you.
The beam of the lamp moves toward Norma. It hits
her. She sits bathed in light. A couple of old
costume extras recognize her.
Say, it’s Norma! Norma Desmond!
They rush over and start wringing her hand. Into
the shot comes a middle-aged hairdresser.
Hello, Miss Desmond. It’s Bessie.
Some elderly electricians and stagehands move in.
D-14 ANOTHER PART OF THE STAGE
The first assistant brings the portable phone to
deMille. DeMille lifts the receiver.
D-15 GORDON COLE’S OFFICE IN THE PROPERTY DEPARTMENT,
GORDON COLE ON THE PHONE.
Prop Department. Gordon Cole speaking.
D-16 DE MILLE ON THE PHONE
Cole, this is C. B. deMille. Have
you been calling Norma Desmond?…
What’s it about?
D-17 GORDON COLE, ON THE PHONE
It’s that car of hers — an old
Isotta-Fraschini. Her chauffeur
drove it on the lot the other day.
It looks just right for the Crosby
picture. We want to rent it for a
couple of weeks.
D-18 DE MILLE ON THE PHONE
Oh. Well, thank you.
He hangs up, walks back towards Norma. (CAMERA
Norma stills sits in the shaft of light, surrounded
by about a dozen people who have come up to pay court.
DeMille gestures up to Hog-eye and the light shifts
away. The people about Norma disperse slowly with
Well, Norma …
(He sits down next to her)
I got hold of Gordon Cole.
Norma hasn’t heard a word.
Did you see them? Did you see
how they came?
You know, crazy things happen in
this business. I hope you haven’t
lost your sense of humor …
Suddenly he realizes that she is crying. She takes
the handkerchief from his pocket and puts it over her
What’s the matter, Norma?
Nothing. I just didn’t realize
what it would be like to come back
to the old studio. I had no idea
how I’d missed it.
We’ve missed you too, dear.
We’ll be working again, won’t we, Chief?
We’ll make our greatest picture.
That’s what I want to talk to you about.
It’s a good script, isn’t it?
It’s got a lot of good things. Of
course, it would be an expensive picture…
I don’t care about the money.
I just want to work again. You
don’t know what it means to know
that you want me.
Nothing would thrill me more —
if it were possible.
But remember, darling — I don’t
work before ten in the morning,
and never after 4:30 in the afternoon.
The first assistant comes up.
We’re ready with the shot, Mr. deMille.
You’ll pardon me, Norma? Why
don’t you just sit and watch?
(He steps onto the set)
O.K. Here we go.
The scene starts.
D-19 THE ISOTTA, PARKED OUTSIDE STAGE 18
Max stands talking to Gillis, who is seated in the
(Pointing to the row
of offices in the
You see those offices there, Mr.
Gillis? They used to be her
dressing room, The whole row.
That didn’t leave much for Wallace
He had a great big bungalow on
wheels. I had the upstairs. See
where it says ‘Readers’ Department’?
I remember my walls were covered
with black patent leather…
The words “Readers’ Department” have registered on
Gillis’ mind. He gets out of the car.
I’ll be with you in a minute.
He crosses the street towards the green staircase
leading to the second floor.
Meanwhile, two prop men walking down the street
come into the SHOT.
1ST PROP MAN
Hey, that’s the comic car Cole
was talking about!
Do you mind if we look inside?
Go away. Go away.
D-2O CUBICLE IN THE READERS’ DEPARTMENT
Behind the desk sits Betty, typing the synopsis of
a novel, a half-eaten apple marking her place. The
door behind her opens and Gillis enters.
Just so you don’t think I’m a
complete swine — if there’s
anything in Dark Windows you
can use, take it. It’s all
Well, for heaven’s sake!
She moves the book and the apple aside and points at
the free space on the desk.
Have a chair.
Gillis sits on the desk.
I mean it. It’s no good to me
anyway. Help yourself.
Why should you do that?
If you get a hundred thousand for
it, you buy me a box of chocolate
creams. If you get an Oscar, I
get the left foot.
You know, I’d take you up on that
in a minute. I’m just not good
enough to do it all by myself.
What about all those ideas you had?
See if they make sense. To begin
with, I think you should throw out
all that psychological stuff —
exploring a killer’s sick mind.
Psychopaths sell like hotcakes.
This story is about teachers —
their threadbare lives, their
struggles. Here are people doing
the most important job in the
world, and they have to wprry
about getting enough money to
re-sole their shoes. To me it
can be as exciting as any chase,
Now I see her teaching day classes
while he teaches night school. The
first time they meet …
From below comes the SOUND of the Isotta’s horn.
Look, if you don’t mind, I haven’t
got time to listen to the whole
I’ll make it short.
Sorry. It’s your baby now.
I’m not good enough to write it
alone. We’ll have to do it together.
I’m all tied up. I can’t.
Couldn’t we work in the evenings?
Six o’clock in the morning? This
next month I’m completely at your
disposal. Artie is out of town.
What has Artie to do with it.
Good for you. You’ve got yourself
the best guy in town.
I think so. They’re on location
in Arizona, shooting a Western.
I’m free every evening, every week-
end. If you want, we could work at
It’s just impossible.
Nobody can be that busy.
There is another honk: from down below.
Look, Betty, It can’t be done.
You’re tough, all right.
You’re on your own. Stop being
chicken-hearted and write that story.
Honest to goodness, I hate you.
(Turning 1n the open door)
And don’t make it too dreary. How
about this for a situation: she
teaches daytimes. He teaches at
night. Right? They don’t even know
each other, but they share the same
room. It’s cheaper that way. As a
matter of fact, they sleep in the
same bed — in shifts, of oourse.
Are you kidding? Because I think
So do I.
Came on back. Let me show you
where it fits in.
She reaches in a drawer for her notes on Dark
(At the door)
Betty picks up the apple and is about to throw it
Oh, you —
And here’s a title: AN APPLE FOR
He ducks out quiokly, slamming the door behind him.
Betty looks after him, then angrlly hurls the
apple into the wastebasket.
D-21 STAIRCASE OUTSIDE READERS’ DEPARTMENT
Max is rush1ng up the stairs toward the descending
What’s the matter, Max?
I just found out why all those tele-
phone calls. It is not Miss Desmond
they want. It is the car they want
Max has seen something off.
With his head he indicates
D-22 ENTRANCE TO STAGE 18
The first assistant has opened the door. DeMille
is showing Norma out.
Goodbye, young fellow. We’ll see
what we can do.
I’m not worried. Everything will
be fine. The old team together.
Nothing can stop us.
She turns and walks out of the shot. De Mille
stands for a second watching her, then turns to
Get Gordon Cole. Tell him to forget
about her car. He can find another
old car. I’ll buy him five old cars,
Yes, Mr. De Mille.
They turn back into Stage 18.
D-23 THE ISOTTA
Gillis seated in the rear. Max is helping Norma
in and putting the robe over her.
How did it go?
It couldn’t have gone better.
It’s practically set. Of course,
he has to finish this picture
first, but mine will be his next.
There is an exchange of looks between Max and Gillis.
He must be quite a guy.
He’a a shrewd old fox. He can
smell box office. Only I’m going
to outfox him a litt1e. This isn’t
going to be C. B. deMille’s Salome.
It’s going to be Norma Desmond’s
Salome, a Norma Desmond Production,
starring Norma Desmond…Home, Max.
Yes, Miss Desmond.
As he says the words, he and Gillis exchange a glance
in the rear view mirror.
END OF SEQUENCE “D”
DISSOLVE IN ON:
E-1 CLOSEUP OF NORMA’S FACE
Absolutely no makeup. A After that, an army of
hand with a strong small beauty experts invaded
flashlight comes into the her house on Sunset
picture. The beam of the Boulevard. She went
flashlight travels over the through a merciless
face, exploring it merci- series of treatments,
lessly. While the light is massages, sweat cabinets,
still on it, two pairs of mud baths, ice compres-
creamed hands come into the ses, electric devices.
shot and start to massage it. She lived on vegetable
juices and went to bed
DISSOLVE TO: at nine. She was deter-
mined to be ready —
ready for those cameras
E-2 A SHORT MONTAGE of various that would never turn.
beauty treatments applied
E-3 NORMA BEFORE THE MIRROR
IN HER BEDROOM
It is nine o’clock in the evening. She is in night
gown and negligee and has put triangular patches on
the saddle of her nose and at the outer corner of
each eye. She is rubbing lotion on her hands.
She gets up and crosses to the door of Gillis’ room
and opens it a crack.
Joe darling, are you there?
E-4 GILLIS’ ROOM
It is dark except for a lamp over the chaise longue.
Gillis lies on it, fully clothed, reading a book.
Through the slit in the door there is a suggestion
Don’t turn around. Keep your
eyes on the book.
Norma pushes the door open and comes in.
I just came to say good night.
I don’t want you to see me —
I’m not very attractive.
I’ve lost half a pound since
I was a little worried about the
line of my throat. This woman
has done wonders with it.
You’d better get to bed yourself.
I think I’ll read a little.
You went out last night, didn’t
Why do you say that?
I just happen to know it. I had
a nightmare and I screamed for
you. You weren’t here. Where
I went for a walk.
No you didn’t. You took the
All right, I drove to the beach.
Norma, you don’t want me to feel
I’m locked up in this house?
Of course not, Joe. It’s just
that I don’t want to be left alone.
Not now, while I’m under this
terrible strain. My nerves are
being torn apart. All I ask is
for you to be a little patient and a
I haven’t done anything, Norma.
Of course you haven’t. I wouldn’t
She bends and kisses the top of his head.
Good night, my darling.
She goes into her room, shutting the door behind her.
Gillis puts his book down and looks at her door.
E-5 THE DOOR TO NORMA’S ROOM
The light can be seen through the gouged-out
keyhole. It goes out.
E-6 UPPER LANDING STAIRWAY
AND HALL BELOW (NIGHT) GILLIS’ VOICE
Gillis, with his coat on by Yes, I was playing hooky
now, comes cautiously to
the upper railing and looks every evening along in
down into the lighted hall
below. there. It made me think I
Max is just extinguishing of when I was twelve and
the lights. Max exits in,
the direction of the liv- used to sneak out on the
folks to see a gangster
After a moment Gillis starts
silently down the stairs. picture. This time it
wasn’t to see a picture,
E-7 LIVING ROOM
it was to try and write
(Lighted only by the last
flicker of a fire on the one. That story of mine
hearth). Max is putting a
fire screen in front of Betty Schaerer had dug
the fire. He hears some
steps and the creak or the up kept going through
main door being opened.
He looks out and sees my head like a dozen
E-7a THE MAIN DOOR
Gillis, in the moonlit porch,
is closing the main door
E-8 LIVING ROOM
Max looks after Gillis, his
face enigmatic as ever.
E-9 GARAGE AND DRIVEWAY
Gillis comes into the shot,
gets into the Isotta, drives
it out or the garage and down
the driveway to Sunset, as
quietly as possible.
E-10 READERS’ OFFICE BUILDING
Start on a LONG SHOT. THE GILLIS’ VOICE
BOOM MOVES FORWARD to the only So we’d started
two lights. They are the door working on it, the
and window of Betty Schaefer’s two of us. Nights,
cubicle. Betty sits at the when the studio was
desk, typing. Gillis, his deserted, up in her
coat off, his shirt-sleeves little cubby-hole
rolled up, j.s pacing the floor, of an office.
discussing the construction of
a sentence. The discussion at
a stalemate, Betty suggests
some coffee. Gillis agrees.
From the electric plate on the
shelf beside her, Betty takes
a glass coffee machine. Gillis
seats himself in her chair
and starts typing.
Betty opens the door and comes out on the balcony to
fill the coffee machine from the water cooler stand-
ing beside the door.
I got the funniest letter from
Artie. It’s rained every day
since they got to Arizona. They
re-wrote the whole picture for
rain and shot half of it. Now
the sun is out. Nobody knows
when they’ll get back.
She moves back into the room.
What’s good about it? I miss
him something fierce.
I mean this is good dialogue
along in here. It’ll play.
Sure. Especially with lots
of music underneath, drowning
Don’t you sometimes hate yourself?
Constantly. No, in all serious-
ness, it’s really good. It’s
fun writing again. I’m happy
here, honest I am.
He resumes typing. Betty puts the water on. She
picks up a pack of cigarettes on the desk, finds it’s
empty and throws it away, sees Gillis’ open gold
cigarette case and lighter on the table by the couch.
Betty reaches for a cigarette. The inscription en-
graved inside the case catches her eye. It reads:
MAD ABOUT THE BOY —
I’m sorry. I don’t usually
read private cigarette cases.
Oh, that. It’s from a friend
of mine. A middle-aged lady,
very foolish and very generous.
I’ll say. This is solid gold.
I gave her some advice on an
It’s that old familiar story,
you help a timid little soul
across a crowded street. She
turns out to be a multimillionaire
and leaves you all her money.
That’s the trouble with you
readers. You know all the plots.
Now suppose you proof-read page
ten while the water boils.
E-11 AN EMPTY STREET AT THE GILLIS’ VOICE
PARAMOUNT STUDIO (NIGHT) Sometimes when we got
stuck we’d make a
Gillis and Betty are walking litte tour of the
down it. From a stage where drowsing lot, not talk-
they are erecting a new set ing much, just wandering
comes a great shaft of light. down alleys between the
They stop at an apple-vending sound stages, or through
machine in the foreground,buy the sets they were get-
themselves a couple of apples ting ready for the next
and walk on. day’s shooting. As a
matter of fact, it was
DISSOLVE TO: on one of those walks
when she first told me
about her nose …
E-12 PARAMOUNT’S NEW YORK STREET (NIGHT)
Betty and Gillis are walking down it, THE CAMERA
AHEAD OF THEM.
Look at this street. All card-
board, all hollow, all phoney.
All done with mirrors. I like
it better than any street in the
world. Maybe because I used to
play here when I was a kid.
What were you — a child actress?
I was born just two blocks from
this studio. Right on Lemon Grove
Avenue. Father was head elec-
trician here till he died. Mother
still works in Wardrobe.
Second generation, huh?
Third. Grandma did stunt work
for Pearl White. I come from a
picture family. Naturally they
took it for granted I was to become
a great star. So I had ten years of
dramatic lessons, diction, dancing.
Then the studio made a test. Well,
they didn’t like my nose — it slanted
this way a little. I went to a doctor
and had it fixed. They made more
tests, and they were crazy about my
nose — only they didn’t like my acting.
(Examining her nose
by the flame of his
Should be. It cost three hundred
Saddest thing I ever heard.
Not at all. It taught me a little
sense. I got me a job in the mail
room, worked up to the Stenographic.
Now I’m a reader…
Come clean, Betty. At night you
weep for those lost closeups, those
Not once. What’s wrong with being
on the other side of the cameras?
It’s really more fun.
Three cheers for Betty Schaefer!
I will now kiss that nose of yours.
If you please.
Gillis kisses her nose. As he stands there, his
face close to hers –
May I say you smell real special.
It must be my new shampoo.
That’s no shampoo. It’smore like
a pile of freehly laundred hand-
kerchiefs, like a brand new auto-
mobile. How old are you anyway?
That’s it — there’s nothing like
being twenty-two. Now may I suggest
that if we’re ever to finish this
story you keep at least two feet
away from me … Now back to the
They start walking in the direction of the office.
E-13 THE GARAGE
Gillis gets out. From the seat next him he takes a
batch of script, folds it and puts it in his pocket.
He suddenly becomes aware that he is watched, turns.
Max stands in the moonlight, evidently waiting for
What is it, Max? Want to wash
the car, or are you doing a little
spying in your off hours?
You must be very careful as you
cross the patio. Madame may be
How about my going up the kitchen
stairs and undressing in the dark.
Will that do it?
I’m not inquiring where Mr.
Gillis goes every night…
Why don’t you? I’m writing a
script and I’m dying to finish
it, no matter what.
It’s just that I’m very worried
Sure you are. And we’re not help-
ing her any, feeding her lies and
more lies. Getting herself ready
for a pioture … What happens when
she finds out?
She never will. That is my job.
It has been for a long time. You
must understand I discovered her
when she was eighteen. I made her
a star. I cannot let her be destroyed.
You made her a star?
I directed all her early pictures.
There were three young directors
who showed promise in those days:
D.W. Grirrith, C.B. deMille, and
Max von Mayerling.
And she’s turned you into a
It was I who asked to come back,
humiliating as it may seem. I
could have gone on witn my career,
only I found everything unendur-
able arter she divorced me. You
see, I was her rirst husband.
E-14 NORMA DESMOND’S BEDROOM
One lamp lit. Norma, in a white negligee, with the
patches on her face, is pacing up and down — a
small, tormented, pitiable woman. Finally she opens
the door to:
E-15 GILLIS’ ROOM (MOONLIGHT)
Gillis lies in bed asleep, Norma in the doorway.
You’re here, Joe … When did
you come home? Where were you?
Is it a woman? I know it’s a
woman … Who is she? Oh Joe,
why can’t I ask you? I must know,
Her eyes fall on Gillis’ coat, which hangs over a
chair. In a pocket is part of the script. Norma
takes it out, looks at it. She can’t see it in the
moonlight. She hurries with it into:
E-16 NORMA’S BEDROOM
Carrying the script Norma goes to the lamp and looks
at it. On the first page she sees something which
confirms all her suspicionso It reads:
UNTITLED LOVE STORY
Joseph C. Gilliss
E-17 BETTY’S CUBICLE (NIGHT)
Betty is typing. Gillis sits on the couch, proof-
reading a scene. Betty stops typing and Gillis
becomes aware of her eyes fixed on him.
Hey, what’s the matter…
Betty, wake up!
(He whistles and
catches her attention)
Why are you staring at me like that?
Was I? I’m sorry.
What’s wrong with you tonight?
What is it, Betty?
Something came up. I don’t want
to talk about it.
I just don’t.
What is it you’ve heard. Come
on, let’s have it.
Betty gets up.
Is it about me?
Betty doesn’t answer, walks out on
E-18 THE BALCONY
She leans against a post, crying. Gillis comes out
Betty, there’s no use running
out on it. Let’s face it, what-
ever it is.
It’s nothing. I got a telegram
From Artie. What’s wrong?
He wants me to come on to Arizona.
He says it only oosts two dollars
to get married there. It would
kind of save us a honeymoon.
Why don’t you? We can finish the
script by Thursday.
Betty stands crying silently.
Stop crying. You’re getting
married. That’s what you’ve
I don’t want it now.
Why not? Don’t you love Artie?
Of course I love him. I always
will. I’m just not in love
with him any more.
There is a moment’s pause before he takes her in
his arms. THE CAMERA MOVES AWAY.
E-19 HALL AND STAIRCASE GILLIS’ VOICE
DESMOND HOME- (NIGHT) It wasn’ t until I got
back to that peculiar
Gillis enters, closes prison of mine that I
the door as quietly as started facing the facts.
he can, and goes up There it was — Betty
the stairs. Schaefer’s future right
in the palm of my hand.
E-20 GILLIS’ ROOM Betty Schaefer engaged
to Artie Green, as nice
He enters and turns on the a guy as ever lived.
light. He sinks down on And she was in love with
the chaise longue,thinking. me. Me ! She was a fool
His eyes wander to the not to sense that there
door of Norma’s room. was something phony in
Through the gouged-out key- my set-up. And I was a
hole he sees the light. heel not to have told
her. But you just can’t
say those things to
somebody you’re crazy
about. Maybe I’d never
have to. Maybe I could
get away with it, get
away from Norma. Maybe
I could wipe the whole
nasty mess right out of
From Norma’s room comes the sound of a telephone
being dialled. Gillis enters the shot and stands
Is this Gladstone 0858?
E-21 NORMA’S BEDROOM
Norma lies in bed, dialing a number. She has the
beauty patches at the corners of her eyes and over
Can I speak to Miss Betty
Schaefer? She must be home by
E-22 A BEDROOM IN BETTY’S FLAT
Connie, a girl of Betty’s age with whom she shares
the flat, is on the phone. Betty, in a dressing-
gown, comes from the bathroom, toothbrush in hand.
(Hand over mouthpiece)
Betty, here’s that weird-sounding
What is this anyway?
(Taking the phone)
This is Betty Schaefer.
E-23 NORMA AT IHE PHONE
Miss Schaefer, you must forgive
me for calling you so late, but
I really feel it’s my duty. It’s
about Mr. Gillis. You do know Mr.
Gillis? …Exactly how much do you
know about him? Do you know where
he lives? Do you know how he lives?
Do you know what he lives on?
E-24 BETTY AT THE PHONE
Who are you? What do you want?
What business is it of yours
E-25 NORMA ON THE PHONE
Miss Schaefer, I’m trying to do
you a favor. I’m trying to spare
you a great deal of misery. Of
course you may be too young to even
suspect there are men of his sort…
I don’t know what he’s told you, but
he does not live with relatives, nor
with friends, in the usual sense of
the word. Ask him … Ask him again.
During the latter part of her call, the doors from
Gillis’ room have been pushed open and Gillis has
walked towards her. Suddenly Norma senses his pre-
sence and turns around. The telephone freezes in her
hand. She tries to hang it up. Very calmly Gillis
takes the receiver from her hand.
That’s right, Betty, ask me again.
This is Joe.
E-26 BETTY ON THE PHONE
Joe, where are you? What’s this
E-27 GILLIS ON THE PHONE
Norma beside him.
Or maybe it would be a better
idea if you came over and saw it
for yourself. The address is 10086
He hangs up. Norma looks up at him as he crosses to
the other end of the room and stands staring at her.
The silence becomes unbearable.
Don’t hate me, Joe. I did it because
I need you. I need you as I never
needed you. Look at me. Look at my
hands, look at my face, look under my
eyes. How can I go back to work if I’m
wasting away under this torment? You
don’t know what I’ve been through these
last weeks. I got myself a revolver.
You don’t believe me, but I did, I did!
I stood in front of that mirror, only
I couldn’t make myself. It wouldn’t be
fair to all those people who are
waiting to see me back on the
screen. I can’t disappoint them.
Only, if I’m to work, I need
sleep, I need quiet, I need you!
Don’t just stand there hating
me! Shout at me, strike me!
But don’t hate me, Joe. Don’t
you hear me, Joe?
Yes, I hear you. And I wish you’d
keep still so I can hear the doorbell
when she rings it.
E-28 BETTY AND CONNIE, DRIVING IN A SMALL COUPE DOWN
E-29 INT. COUPE
Connie is looking at the house numbers.
Here’s ten thousand seventy-nine,
Betty. It must be over there.
Betty turns the car into the driveway of Norma’s
place, stops at the entrance steps. Betty gets out.
Betty, let me come along with
No, I’ll be all right.
She shuts the door of the car and goes up the steps.
E-30 NORMA’S BEDROOM
Norma lies on the bed. Gillis sits in a far corner
of the room, motionless.
(In a whimpering monotone)
I love you, Joe. I love you, Joe.
I love you, Joe. I love you, Joe.
There is the sound of footsteps below and the ringing
of a doorbell. Gillis rises.
What are you going to do, Joe?
Without a word, he leaves the room. Norma raises
herself on the bed, reaching for a black negligee
lying at the foot of it. As she does so, she dis-
lodges her pillow a little, revealing a revolver
hidden beneath it.
E-31 DOWNSTAIRS HALL, THE DESMOND HOUSE (DARK)
Max crosses the hall, putting on his alpaca jacket.
He turns on the lights. Outside stands Betty.
From the staircase comes –
It’s all right, Max. I’ll take it.
He stands back as Gillis opens the door.
(On the threshold)
I don’t know why I’m so scared,
Joe. Is it something awful?
Come on in, Betty,
Betty enters. As he leads her into the living room,
Gillis puts his arm around her shoulders.
Ever been in one of these old
Hollywood palazzos? That’s from
when they were making eighteen thou-
sand a week, and no taxes. Careful
of these tiles, they’re slippery.
Valentino used to dance here.
This is where you live?
Whose house is it?
They have reached
E-32 THE LIVING ROOM
Gillis leads Betty in.
Just look around. There’s a lot
of her spread about. If you don’t
remember the face, you must have
heard the name of Norma Desmond.
That was Norma Desmond on the phone?
Want something to drink? There’s
always champagne on ice, and plenty
Why did she call me?
Jealous. Ever see so much junk?
She had the ceiling brought from
Portugal. Look at this.
He pulls the rope, showing the projection screen
under the picture.
Her own movie theatre.
I didn’t come here to see a house.
What about Norma Desmond?
I’m trying to tell you. This is
an enormous place. Eight master
bedrooms. A sunken tub in every
bathroom. There’s a bowling alley
in the cellar. It’s lonely here,
so she got herself a companion.
A very simple set-up: An older
woman who is well-to-do. A younger
man who is not doing too well …
Can you figure it out yourself?
All right. I’ll give you a few
No, no! I haven’t heard any of
this. I never got those telephone
calls. I’ve never been in this
house … Get your things together.
Let’s get out of here.
All my things? All the eighteen
suits, all the custom-made shoes and
the eighteen dozen shirts, and the
cuff-links and the platinum key-
chains, and the cigarette cases?
Come on, Joe.
Come on where? Back to a one-room
apartment that I can’t pay for?
Back to a story that may sell and
very possibly will not?
If you love me, Joe.
Look, sweetie — be practical.
l’ve got a good thing here.
A long-term contract with no options.
I like it that way. Maybe it’s not
very admirable. Well, you and Artie
can be admirable.
Joe, I can’t look at you any more.
Nobody asked you to.
Betty turns from him, to hide the fact that she is
All right, baby. This way out.
He leads her in the direction of the door.
E-33 UPPER LANDING, DESMOND HOUSE
Sitting crouched behind the balustrade is Norma,
peering down into
E-34 THE LOWER HALL
Betty and Gillis have reached the entrance door.
Gillis opens it.
Good luck to you, Betty. You can
finish that story on the way to
Arizona. When you and Artie get
back, if the two of you ever feel
like a swim, here’s the pool …
He switches on the light.
E-35 THE PATIO
The lights go on in the pool, which shines brilliant-
ly in the dark garden.
She doesn’t even look. Her eyes filled with tears,
she runs down the entrance porch toward her car.
E-37 THE ENTRANCE HALL
Gillis looks after her, closes the door. From the
upper landing comes the sound of soft sobbing. He
E-38 NORMA, ON THE UPPER LANDING
Gillis ascends the stairs.
Thank you, Joe — thank you, Joe.
She tries to take his hand to kiss it as he passes.
He doesn’t stop. Norma catches his coat. Gillis
moves right on into his room. Norma lies on the
floor looking after him. She crawls toward a con-
sole, pulls herself up by it, starts towards Gillis’
door, passes a mirror, realizes how she looks, moves
back to the mirror and takes the patches off her
face and does a hasty job of removing the cream with
her handkerchief, readjusts her expression to a poor
travesty of a smile and goes to the door of Gillis’
May I come in? I’ve stopped cry-
ing. I’m all right again. Joe,
tell me you’re not cross — tell
me everything is just as it was,
She opens the door.
E-39 GILLIS’ ROOM
In the foreground, open on the bed, is a half-packed
suitcase, Gillis just putting some of his old shirts
in. Norma stands staring, speechless, for a second.
Gillis moves out of the shot towards the closets.
What are you doing, Joe? What
are you doing? You’re not leaving
Yes, I am, Norma.
No, you’re not.
Max is a good idea. He can help
with my luggage.
(He gestures in the
direction of the closet)
Thanks for letting me wear the
handsome wardrobe. And thanks
for the use of all the trinkets.
He takes the cigarette case and throws it on the
chaise longue. Then he throws the lighter, the
wrist watch, the platinum key-chain and the tie clip.
(Indicating the bureau)
The rest of the jewelry is in the
It’s yours, Joe. I gave it to
And I’d take it in a second, Norma —
only it’s a little too dressy for
sitting behind the copy desk in
These are nothing. You can have
anything you want if you’ll only
stay. What is it you want —
Norma, you’d be throwing it away.
I don’t qualify for the job, not any
You can’t do this! Max! Max!
… I can’t face life without you,
and I’m not afraid to die, you
That’s between you and yourself,
You think I made that up about
She rushes into her room. Gillis closes the suitcase
calmly, notices that he is still wearing some cuff-
links Norma gave him, takes them off.
Norma reappears in the door, carrying the revolver.
See, you didn’t believe me!..
Now I suppose you don’t think I
have the courage!
Oh. sure — if it would make a
You don’t care. do you? But
hundreds of thousands of people
Wake up, Norma. You’d be killing
yourself to an empty house. The
audience left twenty years ago.
Now face it.
During the preceding. Max has entered. He stands
That’s a lie! They still want me!
No, they don’t.
What about the studio?
What about De Mille?
He was trying to spare your feelings.
The studio wanted to rent your car.
De Mille didn’t have the heart
to tell you. None of us has had
That’s a lie! They want me, they
want me! I get letters every day!
You tell her, Max. Come on, do
her that favor. Tell her there
isn’t going to be any picture —
there aren’t any fan letters,
except the ones you write yourself.
That isn’t true! Max?
Madame is the greatest star of
them all… I will take Mr.
You heard him. I’m a star!
Norma, grow up. You’re a woman
of fifty. There’s nothing tragic
about being fifty – not unless
you try to be twenty-five.
I’m the greatest star of them
No one leaves a star. That
makes one a star.
Gillis picks up the typewriter and leaves.
You’re not leaving me!
Gillis descending with the typewriter.
There is the SOUND OF A SHOT. The glass of the front
door is shattered. Gillis at the door opens it and
walks out, without looking back.
Down the staircase rushes Norma. a disordered wild-
ness in the way she moves.
You’re not leaving me!
She hurries after Gillis.
E-41 PATIO (NIGHT)
Dark except for lights from the house and the
luminousness of the lit pool.
Gillis is crossing the patio towards the garage. He
is carrying the typewriter. He doesn’t accelerate
his step, although he has heard the shot. Behind
him Norma comes from the lighted house.
You’re not leaving me!
She shoots twice in rapid succession. Gillis drops
the typewriter. The shots have swung him around. He
is now facing Norma. She shoots him. This shot
hits him in the belly. He doubles up, instinctively
backs away from her, plummets into the lit pool.
Up the stone steps from the garage rushes Max.
He sees the situation, hurries towards Norma, who
stands exultant in the strange light from the pool.
Stars are ageless, aren’t they?
E-42 THE PATIO
Dawn is breaking. At the edge of the pool
stand policemen, detectives and police photographers.
Motorcycle policemen are holding off the mob which
is trying to storm the house.
A lietuenant from the Homicide Bureau leaves the
crowd around the pool and goes into
E-43 THE LOWER HALL, DESMOND HOUSE
It is filled with a pandemonium of police officers,
newspaper people, etc. who are kept from the upper
floor by two policemen at the head of the stairs.
The lieutenant from the Homicide Bureau goes
through the crowd to the telephone at the foot of
the stairs, picks up the phone and dials.
Coroner’s office? … I want to
speak to the Coroner … Who’s
on this phone?
E-44 THE WHITE TELEPHONE IN NORMA’S BEDROOM
Standing talking into it is Hedda Hopper.
I am! Now get off, this is more
important … Times City Desk?
Hedda Hopper speaking. I’m talking
from the bedroom of Norma Desmond.
Don’t bother with a rewrite man, take
this direct. Ready? — As day breaks
over the murder house, Norma Desmond,
famed star of yesteryear, is in
a state of complete mental shock …
THE CAMERA PANS TO ANOTHER PART OF THE BEDROOM, where
Norma sits at a mirror, staring at herself blankly.
Firing questions at her are the Captain of the Holmby
Hills Division and the L.A. Homicide Squad. Max
stands by faithfully.
HOLMBY HILLS CAPTAIN
You do not deny having killed
this man, Miss Desmond?
HEAD OF HOMICIDE
Did you intend to kill him?
Just answer me that.
HOLMBY HILLS CAPTAIN
Was it a sudden quarrel? Had there
been any trouble between you before?
HEAD OF HOMICIDE
If it was a quarrel, how come you
had the gun right there?
HOLMBY HILLS CAPTAIN
This guy — where did you meet him
for the first time? Where did he
come from? Who is he?
HEAD OF HOMICIDE
Did he have a wife? Did he had a
girl friend? Did you know them?
HOLMBY HILLS CAPTAIN
Had he been trying to blackmail you?
E-45 PATIO – (DAWN) GILLIS’ VOICE
The body of Gillis Well, this is where you came.
being fished from Here’s that pool again,the one
the pool, put on a I always wanted. They must have
stretcher, covered photographed me a hundred times.
with an army blanket.Then they got a couple of prun-
Two men from the ing hooks from the garden and
Coroner’s office fished me out ever so gently.
carry it towards Funny how gentle people get with
the Coroner’s you once you’re dead. They
hearse, CAMERA beached me, like a harpooned
PANNING with them. baby whale, and started to check
the damage, just for the record
… By this time the whole joint
was jumping — cops,reporters,
neighbors, passersby — as much
hoopdedoo as we get in Los
Angeles when they open a Super
Market. Even the newsreel guys
came roaring in. Here was an
item everybody could have some
fun with, the heartless so-and-
so’s. What would they do to her?
Even if she got away with it in
court- crime of passion – tempo-
rary insanity – those headlines
would kill her: Forgotten Star
a Slayer–Aging Actress–
Yesterday’s Glamour Queen…
E-46 NORMA’S BEDROOM
The interrogators are still firing questions at Norma
who sits lifeless, staring at herself. Max watches.
HEAD OF HOMICIDE
Did the deceased ever threaten you?
Were you in fear of bodily injury?
HOLMBY HILLS CAPTAIN
Did you hate him? Had you ever thought
of doing something like this before?
HEAD OF HOMICIDE
Was theft involved? Did you catch
him trying to steal something, or
find he had stolen something?
A police lieutenant has entered, goes to the Head of
The newsreel guys have arrived with
HEAD OF HOMICIDE
Tell them to go fly a kite. This
is no time for cameras.
A word has pierced the mists that surround Norma.
Cameras? …What is it, Max?
The cameras have arrived, Madame.
They have? Thank you, Max. Tell
Mr. DeMille I will be on the set
Max flashes a look at the Head of Homicide.
HEAD OF HOMICIDE
What is this?
HOLMBY HILLS CAPTAIN
(sotto voce, to Head of Homicide)
Well, it’s one way to get her down stairs.
HEAD OF HOMICIDE
Okay. And let’s have the car right
You will pardon me, gentlemen.
I have to get ready for my scene.
She takes a comb and runs it through her hair, then
starts applying some wild makeup.
E-47 STAIRCASE AND LOWER HALL
Max makes his way down the stairs through the crowd
of newsmen to the newsreel cameras, which are being
set up in the hall below.
Is everything set up, gentlemen?
Are the lights ready?
From the stairway comes a murnur. They look up.
Norma has emerged from the bedroom and comes to the
head of the stairs. There are golden spangles in
her hair and in her hand she carries a golden scarf.
The police clear a path for her to descend. Press
cameras flash at her every step.
Max stands at the cameras.
Is everything set up, gentlemen?
The portable lights flare up and illuminate the
Are the lights ready?
2ND CAMERA MAN
Quiet, everybody! Lights!
Are you ready, Norma?
(From the top of the
What is the scene? Where am I?
This is the staircase of the palace.
Oh, yes, yes. They’re below,
waiting for the Princess …
Norma arranges the golden GILLIS’ VOICE
scarf ebout her and proudy So they were grinding
starts to descend the stair- after all, those cam-
case. The cameras grind. eras. Life, which can
Everyone watches in awe. be strangely merciful,
had taken pity on Norma
Desmond. The dream she
had clung to so des-
perately had enfolded
At the foot of the stairs Norma stops, moved.
I can’t go on with the scene.
I’m too happy. Do you mind,
Mr. DeMille, if I say a few words?
Thank you. I just want to tell
you 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 and another.
You see, this is my life. It always
will be. 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 closeup.