The Line: “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.”
Who Said It: Gloria Swanson as the quintessential diva, Norma Desmond, in the 1950 film Sunset Boulevard.
The Setup: When kept screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) tells the faded silent-screen vamp: “You’re Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big,” she explains in her best star smirk why she no longer makes movies.
The Payoff: The deranged Desmond is forever readying herself for her Demillian close-up. But with one snarky blast she also provides the century’s pithiest treatise on the perils of fame, ego and Hollywood. In the end, Desmond seems to justify Walter Winchell’s famous quip: “Hollywood shoots too many pictures and not enough actors.”