Joe Gillis
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Quotes for
Joe Gillis (Character)
from Sunset Blvd. (1950)

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Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Betty Schaefer: Don't you sometimes hate yourself?
Joe Gillis: Constantly.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): The poor dope - he always wanted a pool. Well, in the end, he got himself a pool.

Joe Gillis: Wait a minute, haven't I seen you before? I know your face.
Norma Desmond: Get out! Or, shall I call my servant?
Joe Gillis: You're Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big.
Norma Desmond: I *am* big. It's the *pictures* that got small.

Joe Gillis: I didn't know you were planning a comeback.
Norma Desmond: I hate that word. It's a return, a return to the millions of people who have never forgiven me for deserting the screen.

Joe Gillis: Audiences don't know somebody sits down and writes a picture; they think the actors make it up as they go along.

Norma Desmond: Don't be silly.
[hands Joe a present]
Norma Desmond: Here, I was going to give it to you at midnight.
Joe Gillis: Norma, I can't take it, you've bought me enough.
Norma Desmond: Shut up, I'm rich! I'm richer than all this new Hollywood trash! I've got a million dollars.
Joe Gillis: Keep it.
Norma Desmond: Own three blocks downtown, I've got oil in Bakersfield, pumping, *pumping*, pumping! What's it for but to buy us anything we want!
Joe Gillis: Cut out that "us" business!
Norma Desmond: What's the matter with you?
Joe Gillis: What right do you have to take me for granted?
Norma Desmond: What right? Do you want me to tell you?
Joe Gillis: Has it ever occurred to you that I may have a life of my own? That there may be some girl I'm crazy about?
Norma Desmond: Who? Some car hop, or dress extra?
Joe Gillis: 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!
Norma Desmond: What you're trying to say is that you don't want me to love you. Say it. Say it!
[slaps him hard across the face]

Joe Gillis: [Norma threatens suicide again] Oh, wake up, Norma, you'd be killing yourself to an empty house. The audience left twenty years ago. Now, face it.
Norma Desmond: That's a lie! They still want me!

Joe Gillis (as narrator): Well, this is where you came in, back at that pool again, the one I always wanted. It's dawn now and they must have photographed me a thousand times. Then they got a couple of pruning hooks from the garden and fished me out... ever so gently. Funny, how gentle people get with you once you're dead.

Joe Gillis: May I say that you smell really special?
Betty Schaefer: It must be my new shampoo.
Joe Gillis: That's no shampoo. It's more like freshly-laundered linen handkerchiefs, like a brand new automobile. How old are you anyway?
Betty Schaefer: Twenty-two.
Joe Gillis: Smart girl. Nothing like being twenty-two.

Joe Gillis: You really going to send that script to DeMille?
Norma Desmond: Yes, I am! This is the day! Here's the chart from my astrologer. She read DeMille's horoscope, she read mine.
Joe Gillis: Did she read the script?
Norma Desmond: DeMille is Leo. I'm Scorpio. Mars' been transiting Jupiter for weeks. Today is the day of *greatest* conjunction.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): The whole place seemed to have been stricken with a kind of creeping paralysis - out of beat with the rest of the world, crumbling apart in slow motion.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): You don't yell at a sleepwalker - he may fall and break his neck. That's it: she was still sleepwalking along the giddy heights of a lost career.

Betty Schaefer: Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Gillis, but I just didn't think it was any good. I found it flat and trite.
Joe Gillis: Exactly what kind of material do you recommend? James Joyce? Dostoyevsky?
Betty Schaefer: I just think that pictures should say a little something.
Joe Gillis: Oh, one of the message kids. Just a story won't do. You'd have turned down Gone With the Wind.
Sheldrake: No, that was me. I said, "Who wants to see a Civil War picture?"

Joe Gillis (as narrator): How could she breathe in that house full of Norma Desmonds? Around every corner, Norma Desmonds... more Norma Desmonds... and still more Norma Desmonds.

Joe Gillis: I'm not an executive, just a writer.
Norma Desmond: You are, are you? writing words, words, more words! Well, you'll make a rope of words and strangle this business! With a microphone there to catch the last gurgles, and Technicolor to photograph the red, swollen tongues!

Joe Gillis (as narrator): You don't yell at a sleepwalker. He may fall and break his neck.

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

Joe Gillis: Tell her, Max. C'mon, do her that favor. Tell her there isn't going to be any picture. Tell her there are no fan letters other than the ones you write.
Norma Desmond: It's not true! Max!
Max Von Mayerling: Madame is the greatest star of them all.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): [Joe is reading Norma's script] Sometimes it's interesting to see just how bad - bad writing can be. This promised to go the limit.

Max Von Mayerling: There were three young directors who showed promise in those days: D. W. Griffith, Cecil B. DeMille, and Max Von Mayerling.
Joe Gillis: And she's turned you into a servant.
Max Von Mayerling: It was I who asked to come back, as humiliating as it may seem. I could have continued my career; only I found everything unendurable after she'd left me. You see, I was her first husband.

Max Von Mayerling: You see those offices up there? That was Madame's dressing room, the whole row.
Joe Gillis: Didn't leave much for Wallace Reid.
Max Von Mayerling: Oh, he had a big bungalow on wheels.

[first lines]
Joe Gillis: Yes, this is Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, California. It's about 5 0'clock in the morning. That's the homicide squad, complete with detectives and newspaper men.

Betty Schaefer: I've been hoping to run into you.
Joe Gillis: What for? To recover that knife you stuck in my back?

Joe Gillis: Now back to the typewritters by way of Washington Square

Betty Schaefer: Where have you been keeping yourself? I've got the most wonderful news for you.
Joe Gillis: I haven't been keeping myself at all, lately.

Norma Desmond: You're a writer, you said.
Joe Gillis: Why?
Norma Desmond: Are you or aren't you?
Joe Gillis: That's what it says on my Guild card.
Norma Desmond: And you have written pictures, haven't you?
Joe Gillis: I sure have. Want a list of my credits?
Norma Desmond: I want to ask you something. Come in here.
Joe Gillis: Last one I wrote was about Okies in the Dust Bowl. You'd never know because when it reached the screen, the whole thing played on a torpedo boat.

Betty Schaefer: Oh, the old familiar story. You help a timid little soul cross a crowded street, she turns out to be a multimillionaire and leaves you all her money.
Joe Gillis: That's the trouble with you readers, you know all the plots

Norma Desmond: You heard him. I'm a star.
Joe Gillis: Norma, you're a woman of 50, now grow up. There's nothing tragic about being 50, not unless you try to be 25.
Norma Desmond: The greatest star of them all.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): [who has just has a visit from two men trying to repossess his car] I was way ahead of the finance company. I knew they'd be becoming around and I wasn't taking any chances. So I kept it across the street in a parking lot behind Rudy's shoeshine parlour. Rudy never asked any questions about your finances... he'd just look at your heels and know the score.

Betty Schaefer: Perhaps the reason I hated "Bases Loaded" is that I knew your name. I'd always heard you had some talent.
Joe Gillis: That was last year. This year I'm trying to earn a living.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): Come think of it, the whole place seemed to have been stricken with the kind of creeping paralysis... out of beat with the rest of the world... crumbling apart in slow motion. There was a tennis court... or rather the ghost of a tennis court... with faded markings and a sagging net... And of course she had a pool. Who didn't then? Mabel Norman and John Gilbert must have swum in it ten thousand midnights ago... It was empty now. Or was it?
[cut to close-up of rats]

Joe Gillis (as narrator): After that, I drove down to headquarters. That's the way a lot of us think about Schwab's Drug Store. KInd of a combination office, coffee clutch, and waiting room. Waiting. Waiting for the gravy train.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): Then I talked to a couple of Yes men at Metro. To me, they said No.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): Finally, I located that agent of mine - the big faker. Was he out digging up a job for poor Joe Gillis? Huh. He was hard at work at Bell-Air making with the golf sticks.

Joe Gillis: What do you think I've been doing? I need 300 dollars!
Morino: Sweetheart, maybe what you need is another agent.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): As I drove back towards town, I took inventory of my prospects. They now added up to 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.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): I had landed myself in the driveway of some big mansion that looked run down and deserted.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): It was a great big white elephant of a place. The kind crazy movie people built in the crazy 20s. A neglected house gets an unhappy look. This one had it in spades. It was like that old woman in "Great Expectations". That Miss Havisham in her rotting wedding dress and her torn veil, taking it out on the world, because she'd been given the go-by.

Joe Gillis: Next time I'll bring my autograph album along. Or, maybe a hunk of cement and ask for your footprint.

Norma Desmond: Young man, tell me something; how long is a movie script these days? I mean how many pages?
Joe Gillis: Depends on what it is: a Donald Duck or a Joan of Arc.

Norma Desmond: It's the story of Salome. I think I'll have DeMille direct it.
Joe Gillis: DeMille?
Norma Desmond: We made a lot of pictures together.
Joe Gillis: And you'll play Salome?
Norma Desmond: Who else?

Norma Desmond: 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 lands his head on a golden tray - kissing his cold, dead lips.
Joe Gillis: They'll love it in Pamona.
Norma Desmond: They'll love it every place!

Joe Gillis: [Critiquing a movie script] What it needs is - eh - maybe a little more dialogue.
Norma Desmond: What for? I can say anything I want with my eyes.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): I felt kind of pleased with the way I'd handled the situation. I dropped the hook and she snapped at it.

Joe Gillis: She's quite a character, that Norma Desmond.
Max Von Mayerling: She was the greatest of them all! You wouldn't know, you're too young. In one week she received 17,000 fan letters. Men bribed her hair dresser to get a lock of her hair. There was a Maharaja who came all the way from India to beg one of her silk stockings. Later he strangled himself with it.
Joe Gillis: Well, I sure turned into an interesting driveway.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): [Referring to Max] I pegged him as slightly cuckoo, too. A stroke maybe.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): It was all very queer. But, queerer things were yet to come.

Norma Desmond: Cut away from me?
Joe Gillis: Well, honestly, its a little too much of you. They don't want you in every scene.
Norma Desmond: They don't? Then why do they still write me fan letters every day? Why do they beg me for my photographs? Why? Because they want to see me! Me! Norma Desmond!

Joe Gillis (as narrator): The plain fact was she was afraid of that world outside. Afraid it would remind her that time had passed.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): She'd sit very close to me and she'd smell of tuberoses - which is not my favorite perfume. Not by a long shot. Sometimes as we'd watch, she'd clutch my arm or my hand, forgetting she was my employer. Just becoming a fan. Excited about that actress up there on the screen. I guess I don't have to tell you who the star was. They were always her pictures. That's all she wanted to see.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): The others around the table would be actor friends. Dim figures you may still remember from the silent days. I used to think of them as your wax works.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): She'd take me for rides in the hills above Sunset. The whole thing was upholstered in leopard skin and had one of those car phones - all gold plated.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): The last week in December, the rains came. A great big package of rain. Oversized. Like everything else in California.

Joe Gillis: [Wearing his new tuxedo] You know, to me, getting dressed up was always just putting on my dark blue suit.
Norma Desmond: I don't like the studs they sent. I want you to have a pearl - a big luscious pearl.
Joe Gillis: Well, I'm not going to wear earrings. I can tell you that.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): I felt caught like the cigarette in that contraption on her finger.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): I just had to get out of there. I had to be with people my own age. I had to hear somebody laugh again. I thought of Artie Green. There was bound to be a New Year's shindig going on in his apartment down in Los Palmas. Writers without a job. Composers without a publisher. Actresses so young they still believe the guys in the casting office. A bunch of kids who didn't give a hoot.

Betty Schaefer: Are you hungry?
Joe Gillis: Hungry? After 12 years in a Burmese jungle, I'm starving, Lady Agatha, starving for a white shoulder.
Betty Schaefer: Philip you're mad.
Joe Gillis: Thirsting for the coolness of your lips.

Betty Schaefer: I'll get us a refill of this horrible liquid.
Joe Gillis: You'll be waiting for me?
Betty Schaefer: With a wildly beating heart!
Joe Gillis: Life can be beautiful.

Joe Gillis: [Pitching a movie script] They're pretty hot about it over at Twentieth. Except, I think Zanuck's all wet. Can you see Ty Power as a shortstop? You got the best man for it right here in this lot - Alan Ladd. It'd be a good change a pace for Ladd.

Joe Gillis: [Pitching a movie script] And there's a great little part for Bill Demarest. One of the trainers. Old time player who got beaned. Goes out of his head sometimes.

Sheldrake: That'll be all Miss Kramer - Scaefer.
Betty Schaefer: Goodbye, Mr. Gillis.
Joe Gillis: Next time I'll write you "The Naked and the Dead".

Sheldrake: Of course, we're always looking for a Betty Hutton. Do you see it as a Betty Hutton?
Joe Gillis: Frankly, no.
Sheldrake: No, 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 Bullpen - A Story of a Woman".

Joe Gillis (as narrator): Incredible as it may seem, there'd been some more of those urgent calls from Paramount. So, she put on about a half a pound of makeup, fixed it up with a veil, and set forth to DeMille in person.

Joe Gillis: 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 yours.
Betty Schaefer: Well, for heavens sake. Come on in, have a chair.
Joe Gillis: I mean it. Its no good to me anyway. Help yourself.
Betty Schaefer: Now, why should you do that?
Joe Gillis: 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.

Betty Schaefer: I think you should throw out all that psychological mess - exploring the killers sick mind.
Joe Gillis: Psychopaths sell like hotcakes!

Joe Gillis: Norma, I haven't done anything.
Norma Desmond: Of course, you haven't. I wouldn't let you.

Betty Schaefer: I got a telegram from Artie.
Joe Gillis: From Artie? What's wrong?
Betty Schaefer: He wants me to come out to Arizona. He says it only costs two dollars to get married there. It would kinda save us a honeymoon.

Joe Gillis: [On the phone] Better yet, why don't you come out and see for yourself. The address is 10,086 Sunset Boulevard.

Joe Gillis (as narrator): By this time, the whole joint was jumping. Cops. Reporters. Neighbors. Passers-by. As much hoop dee doo as we get in Los Angeles when they open a supermarket.