Why Donald Trump now 'resembles' the Norma Desmond character from 'Sunset Boulevard': journalist
In director Billy Wilder’s 1950 film noir classic “Sunset Boulevard,” Gloria Swanson famously portrayed a delusional and aging silent film star of the 1920s who was living in the past and refused to accept the fact that Hollywood had long since moved on. Swanson’s character, Norma Desmond, had no desire to change with the times or live in the Hollywood of 1950; in Desmond’s world, it was still the 1920s, and talkies had not been dominating Hollywood since 1930.
Journalist Olivia Nuzzi has been arguing that former President Donald Trump has become the Norma Desmond of politics — a comparison she made in an article published by New York Magazine on December 23. And Nuzzi returned to that theme when journalist and Never Trump conservative Charlie Sykes interviewed her for a podcast posted by The Bulwark on January 10.
During the interview, Sykes noted that Trump himself is “obsessed with the movie ‘Sunset Boulevard,’ starring Gloria Swanson as the washed-up, lonely silent picture star Norma Desmond who was sidelined by the talkies and driven to madness, in complete denial over her faded celebrity.” And the anti-Trump conservative played a clip from “Sunset Boulevard” in which Swanson brilliantly delivered the famous line, “Alright, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”
The “Mr. DeMille” Desmond was referring to was director Cecil B. DeMille, who appeared in the film. Desmond thought the reporters and police officers who showed up at her mansion were there to cover her big Hollywood comeback; in reality, the reporters were there to cover her arrest for shooting and killing her young lover (played by William Holden) after he decided to break up with her.
Sykes humorously told Nuzzi, “Donald Trump is not Fat Elvis. He’s Norma Desmond.” And Nuzzi went on to tell him that Trump viewed real estate — and later, politics — as “show business.”
“The more that I was thinking about it, the parallels are kind of undeniable,” Nuzzi told Sykes. “I watched that film a lot when I was trying to write this piece to the point where I think my fiancé started to go insane. Our living room was Norma Desmond all the time for several days…. Stephanie Grisham actually wrote this in her book — she said something to the effect: I don’t think he realized the parallels, and how much he resembled Norma Desmond…. I’m not the only person, by any stretch, to compare them.”
Sykes noted that Trump’s “great fear” is “to be irrelevant,” which was also Norma Desmond’s great fear in “Sunset Boulevard.” Trump, according to Nuzzi, is such a big fan of “Sunset Boulevard” that he showed it to Grisham (who had never seen it before) and others.
Nuzzi, who has done several interviews with Trump, replied, “I don’t think this is a conscious thing…. I think this is something that is purely instinct for him. I don’t think he has much of an interior life.”
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