TOM LAZARUS INTERVIEWS NORMA DESMOND FROM ‘SUNSET BOULEVARD’

After more than two dozen requests, Norma Desmond, famed silent film icon and star of the Billy Wilder masterpiece SUNSET BOULEVARD, finally agrees to an interview.

I’m invited to her mansion in the ten thousand block of Sunset Boulevard.  Her yard is a jungle and I’m surprised the City of Beverly Hills lets her get away with it, though she is Norma Desmond.  The interview’s set for 4:30 P.M., golden hour.  Perfect.

I’m met at the door by Max Von Mayerling, her butler/driver and, if you remember, her ex-director and former husband.  He’s formally attired, just like in the movie.

“Madame is out by the pool.”

Our shoes echo as Max ushers me through the mausoleum of a living room filled with framed images of the glamorous Miss Desmond at the height of her career, out past the ghost of a tennis court to the pool, which, instead of water, is filled with dead palm fronds and a deteriorating chaise lounge belly-up in the deep end.

In a jeweled turban and luxurious black silk caftan, Norma Desmond waits regally in the shade of a large outdoor umbrella.  The years have been amazingly kind to her.  With her profile to me, backlit by the golden setting sun, Norma Desmond smokes a non-filtered cigarette from a graceful gold holder attached to the index finger of her left hand – the smoke snaking provocatively around her face like a soft focus scrim.

MAX VON MAYERLING:  Madame, this is Tom Lazarus, he’s here for the interview.

Max left us.  It takes a few seconds for Miss Desmond to acknowledge my presence, or was it for me to study the ‘opening shot’ of the interview.

 

Slowly, she turns to me…

 

—–To be continued—–

 

 

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