Sure, “Sunset Boulevard” might not be the first movie you think of in verbatim queer cinema, but the inclusion of this film is perfect. Most of the film deals with the strange relationship between struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) and aging star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), as well as tackling themes of industry abuse, sexism and ageism. Like most of director Billy Wilder’s films, it’s rich with thoughtful points about the state of Hollywood, but on a superficial level, it doesn’t seem very strange at all.
However, when you read between the lines, it actually makes a lot of sense why Van would have his poster hanging in both his apartment and the store. “Sunset Boulevard” is arguably one of the hallmarks of camp thanks to Swanson’s powerful and dramatic performance. In one scene, she can be melancholy before being dramatically angry in the next. As she once wrote Logo TV, Norma is “drama for drama’s sake,” even comparing her character to the famously melodramatic drag queen Alyssa Edwards. It can even be argued that the relationship between Joe and Norma mirrors that of a drag mother and drag daughter. No matter how you play “Sunset Boulevard,” she has her own unique brand of queer cinema, and it’s great that “Yellowjackets” has recognized that.