Billy Wilder

Billy Wilder (/ˈwaɪldər/; German: [ˈvɪldɐ]; born Samuel Wilder, June 22, 1906 – March 27, 2002) was an American filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, artist, and journalist whose career spanned more than five decades. He is regarded as one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of the Hollywood Golden Age of cinema. With The Apartment, Wilder became the first person to win Academy Awards as producer, director, and screenwriter for the same film.[1]

Wilder became a screenwriter in the late 1920s while living in Berlin. After the rise of the Nazi Party, he left for Paris, where he made his directorial debut. He moved to Hollywood in 1933, and in 1939 he had a hit when he co-wrote the screenplay for the romantic comedy Ninotchka, starring Greta Garbo. Wilder established his directorial reputation with an adaption of James M. Cain's Double Indemnity (1944), a film noir. Wilder co-wrote the screenplay with crime novelist Raymond Chandler. Wilder earned the Best Director and Best Screenplay Academy Awards for the adaptation of a Charles R. Jackson story The Lost Weekend (1945), about alcoholism. In 1950, Wilder co-wrote and directed the critically acclaimed Sunset Boulevard, as well as Stalag 17 in 1953.

From the mid-1950s on, Wilder made mostly comedies.[2] Among the classics Wilder created in this period are the farces The Seven Year Itch (1955) and Some Like It Hot (1959), and satires such as The Apartment (1960). He directed fourteen different actors in Oscar-nominated performances. Wilder was recognized with the American Film Institute (AFI) Life Achievement Award in 1986. In 1988, Wilder was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. In 1993, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.

Billy Wilder
Gloria Swanson & Billy Wilder - ca. 1950
Wilder with Gloria Swanson c. 1950
Born
Samuel Wilder

June 22, 1906
DiedMarch 27, 2002 (aged 95)
OccupationDirector, screenwriter, producer
Years active1929–1995
Height5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Spouse(s)
Judith Coppicus
(m. 1936; div. 1946)

Audrey Young (m. 1949)
Children2
RelativesW. Lee Wilder (brother)

Life and career

Austria and Germany

Samuel Wilder was born on June 22, 1906[3] to a family of Austrian Jews in Sucha Beskidzka. His parents were Eugenia (née Dittler) and Max Wilder. He was nicknamed "Billie" by his mother (he changed this to "Billy" after arriving in America). He had an elder brother, William Lee Wilder (1904–1982), who also became a screenwriter, film producer and director. His parents had a successful and well-known cake shop in Sucha's train station and unsuccessfully tried to persuade their son to join the family business. Soon the family moved to Vienna, where Wilder attended school. Instead of attending the University of Vienna, Wilder became a journalist. To advance his career, Wilder decided to move to Berlin, where, before achieving success as a writer, he allegedly worked as a taxi dancer.[4][5]

After writing crime and sports stories as a stringer for local newspapers, he was eventually offered a regular job at a Berlin tabloid. Developing an interest in film, he began working as a screenwriter. He collaborated with several other novices (with Fred Zinnemann and Robert Siodmak) on the 1929 feature People on Sunday. He wrote the screenplay for the 1931 film adaptation of a novel by Erich Kästner, Emil and the Detectives. After the rise of Adolf Hitler, Wilder, Jewish, left for Paris, where he made his directorial debut with the 1934 film Mauvaise Graine. He relocated to Hollywood prior to its release.

Wilder's mother, grandmother, and stepfather all died in the Holocaust. For decades it was assumed that it happened at Auschwitz, but while researching Polish and Israeli archives, his Austrian biographer Andreas Hutter discovered in 2011 that they were murdered in different locations: his mother, Eugenia "Gitla" Siedlisker - in 1943 at Plaszow; his stepfather, Bernard "Berl" Siedlisker, in 1942 at Belzec and his grandmother, Balbina Baldinger, died in 1943 in the ghetto in Nowy Targ.[6]

Hollywood career

After arriving in Hollywood in 1933, Wilder continued his career as a screenwriter. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1939, having spent time in Mexico waiting for the US government after his six-month visa had expired in 1934, an episode reflected in his 1941 Hold Back the Dawn.[7] Wilder's first significant success was Ninotchka in 1939, a collaboration with fellow German immigrant Ernst Lubitsch. This romantic comedy starred Greta Garbo (generally known as a tragic heroine in film melodramas), and was popularly and critically acclaimed. With the byline, "Garbo Laughs!", it also took Garbo's career in a new direction. The film also marked Wilder's first Academy Award nomination, which he shared with co-writer Charles Brackett (although their collaboration on Bluebeard's Eighth Wife and Midnight had been well received). For twelve years Wilder co-wrote many of his films with Brackett, from 1938 through 1950. He followed Ninotchka with a series of box office hits in 1942, including his Hold Back the Dawn and Ball of Fire, as well as his directorial feature debut, The Major and the Minor.

His third film as director, Double Indemnity (1944) was a major hit. A film noir, nominated for Best Director and Screenplay, it was co-written with mystery novelist Raymond Chandler, although the two men did not get along. Double Indemnity not only set conventions for the noir genre (such as "venetian blind" lighting and voice-over narration), but was also a landmark in the battle against Hollywood censorship. The original James M. Cain novel Double Indemnity featured two love triangles and a murder plotted for insurance money. While the book was highly popular with the reading public, it had been considered unfilmable under the Hays Code, because adultery was central to its plot. Double Indemnity is credited by some as the first true film noir, combining the stylistic elements of Citizen Kane with the narrative elements of The Maltese Falcon (1941).

During the liberation of concentration camps in 1945, the Psychological Warfare Department (PWD) of the United States Department of War produced an American propaganda documentary film directed by Billy Wilder. The film known as Death Mills, or Die Todesmühlen, was intended for German audiences to educate them about the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. For the German version, Die Todesmühlen, Hanuš Burger is credited as the writer and director, while Wilder supervised the editing. Wilder is credited with the English-language version.

Two years later, Wilder earned the Best Director and Best Screenplay Academy Awards for the adaptation of a Charles R. Jackson story The Lost Weekend (1945), the first major American film to make a serious examination of alcoholism, another difficult theme under the Production Code. In 1950, Wilder co-wrote and directed the dark and cynical Sunset Boulevard, which paired rising star William Holden with Gloria Swanson. Swanson played Norma Desmond, a reclusive silent film star who, with delusions of her greatness from a bygone era, dreams of a comeback. Holden portrays an aspiring screenwriter who can't make ends meet and becomes a kept man to her. It was critically acclaimed, and marked the end of Wilder's long writing partnership with Charles Brackett. In 1951, Wilder followed Sunset Boulevard with Ace in the Hole (a.k.a. The Big Carnival), a tale of media exploitation of a caving accident. The idea for the film had been pitched over the phone to Wilder's secretary by Victor Desny. Desny sued Wilder for breach of an implied contract in the California copyright case Wilder v Desny, ultimately receiving a settlement of $14,350.[8][9] Although a critical and commercial failure at the time, its reputation has grown over the years.

In the 1950s, Wilder also directed two adaptations of Broadway plays, the prisoner of war drama Stalag 17 (1953), which resulted in a Best Actor Oscar for William Holden, and the Agatha Christie mystery Witness for the Prosecution (1957). In the mid-1950s, Wilder became interested in doing a film with one of the classic slapstick comedy acts of the Hollywood Golden Age. He first considered, and rejected, a project to star Laurel and Hardy. He then held discussions with Groucho Marx concerning a new Marx Brothers comedy, tentatively titled "A Day at the U.N." This project was abandoned when Chico Marx died in 1961.[10]

From the mid-1950s onwards, Wilder made mostly comedies.[2] Among the classics Wilder created in this period are the farces The Seven Year Itch (1955) and Some Like It Hot (1959), satires such as The Apartment (1960), and the romantic comedy Sabrina (1954). Wilder's humor is sometimes sardonic. In Love in the Afternoon (1957), a young and innocent Audrey Hepburn does not wish to be young or innocent with playboy Gary Cooper, and pretends to be a married woman in search of extramarital amusement. The film was Wilder's first collaboration with writer-producer I. A. L. Diamond, an association that continued until the end of both men's careers.

In 1959, United Artists released Wilder's Prohibition-era farce Some Like It Hot without a Production Code seal of approval, withheld due to the film's unabashed sexual comedy, including a central cross-dressing theme. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis play musicians who disguise themselves as women to escape pursuit by a Chicago gang. Curtis's character courts a singer played by Marilyn Monroe, while Lemmon is wooed by Joe E. Brown—setting up the film's final joke in which Lemmon reveals that his character is a man and Brown blandly replies "Well, nobody's perfect". A box office success, the film was lightly regarded during its original release. But its critical reputation grew prodigiously; in 2000, the American Film Institute selected it as the best American comedy ever made.[11] In 2012, the British Film Institute decennial Sight and Sound poll of the world's film critics rated it as the 43rd best movie ever made, and the second-highest ranking comedy.[12]

After winning three Academy Awards for 1960's The Apartment (for Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay), Wilder's career slowed. His Cold War farce One, Two, Three (1961) featured a rousing comic performance by James Cagney. It was followed by apparently lesser films that now are of cult status, such as Irma la Douce and Kiss Me, Stupid. Wilder gained his last Oscar nomination for his screenplay The Fortune Cookie (UK: Meet Whiplash Willie) (1966). His 1970 film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes was intended as a major roadshow release, but was heavily cut by the studio and has never been fully restored. Later films such as Fedora (1978) and Buddy Buddy (1981) failed to impress critics or the public. After that Wilder complained, futilely, that he was being discriminated against, due to his age. For whatever reason, the studios were unwilling to hire him. One "consolation" which Wilder had in his later years, besides his art collection (see "Later Life," below), was the Andrew Lloyd Webber stage musical version of Sunset Boulevard.

Directorial style

Wilder's directorial choices reflected his belief in the primacy of writing. He avoided, especially in the second half of his career, the exuberant cinematography of Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles because, in Wilder's opinion, shots that called attention to themselves would distract the audience from the story. Wilder's pictures have tight plotting and memorable dialogue. Despite his conservative directorial style, his subject matter often pushed the boundaries of mainstream entertainment. Once a subject was chosen, he would begin to visualize in terms of specific artists. His belief was that no matter how talented the actor, none were without limitations and the end result would be better if you bent the script to their personality rather than force a performance beyond their limitations.[13] Wilder was skilled at working with actors, coaxing silent era legends Gloria Swanson and Erich von Stroheim out of retirement for roles in Sunset Boulevard.

For Stalag 17, Wilder squeezed an Oscar-winning performance out of a reluctant William Holden (Holden had wanted to make his character more likeable; Wilder refused). Wilder sometimes cast against type for major parts such as Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity and The Apartment. MacMurray had become Hollywood's highest-paid actor portraying a decent, thoughtful character in light comedies, melodramas, and musicals; Wilder cast him as a womanizing schemer. Humphrey Bogart shed his tough-guy image to give one of his warmest performances in Sabrina. James Cagney, not usually known for comedy, was memorable in a high-octane comic role for Wilder's One, Two, Three. Wilder coaxed a very effective performance out of Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot.

In total, he directed fourteen different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity, Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend, William Holden in Sunset Boulevard and Stalag 17, Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, Erich von Stroheim in Sunset Boulevard, Nancy Olson in Sunset Boulevard, Robert Strauss in Stalag 17, Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, Charles Laughton in Witness for the Prosecution, Elsa Lanchester in Witness for the Prosecution, Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot and The Apartment, Jack Kruschen in The Apartment, Shirley MacLaine in The Apartment and Irma la Douce and Walter Matthau in The Fortune Cookie. Milland, Holden and Matthau won Oscars for their performances in Wilder films. Wilder mentored Jack Lemmon and was the first director to pair him with Walter Matthau, in The Fortune Cookie (1966). Wilder had great respect for Lemmon, calling him the hardest working actor he had ever met. Lemmon starred in seven of Wilder's films.

Wilder's work has had to meet some critical challenges. Although he is admired by many critics and filmgoers, he has not won approval from noted critic David Thomson, author of A Biographical Dictionary of Film, and other works. Thomson summarizes his attitude toward Wilder by saying, "I remain skeptical."[14] Thomson emphasizes that, although Wilder created some brilliant films, he also directed some poor ones, especially at the end of his career. Thomson notes that critic Andrew Sarris did not approve of Wilder for a long time but then changed his attitude much later.[15]

Some say that Wilder's films often lacked any discernible political tone or sympathies, which was not unintentional. He was less interested in current political fashions than in human nature and the issues that confronted ordinary people. He was not affected by the Hollywood blacklist, and had little sympathy for those who were. Of the blacklisted 'Hollywood Ten' Wilder said, "Of the ten, two had talent, and the rest were just unfriendly." In general, Wilder had an intense dislike for formula and genre films.[16]

Others say that his films derive their parodies from the politics of the world around him, capitalist and Communist, and that Wilder opposed the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He co-created the “Committee for the First Amendment”, of 500 Hollywood personalities and stars to “support those professionals called upon to testify before the HUAC who had classified themselves as hostile with regard to the interrogations and the interrogators”. Some anti-Communists wanted those in the cinema industry to take oaths of allegiance. The Screen Directors Guild had a vote by show of hands. Only John Huston and Wilder opposed. Huston said, "I am sure it was one of the bravest things that Billy, as a naturalized German, had ever done. There were 150 to 200 directors at this meeting, and here Billy and I sat alone with our hands raised in protest against the loyalty oath."[17]

Wilder reveled in poking fun at those who took politics too seriously. In Ball of Fire, his burlesque queen 'Sugarpuss' points at her sore throat and complains "Pink? It's as red as the Daily Worker and twice as sore." Later, she gives the overbearing and unsmiling housemaid the name "Franco". Wilder is sometimes confused with director William Wyler; the confusion is understandable, as both were German-speaking Jews with similar backgrounds and names. However, their output as directors was quite different: Wyler preferred to direct epics and heavy dramas, while Wilder was noted for his comedies and film noir type dramas.

Later life

BW1989 crop
Billy Wilder in Berlin, 1989

Wilder was recognized with the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1986. In 1988, Wilder was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. In 1993, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Wilder became well known for owning one of the finest and most extensive art collections in Hollywood, mainly collecting modern art. As he described it in the mid 80s, "It's a sickness. I don't know how to stop myself. Call it bulimia if you want – or curiosity or passion. I have some Impressionists, some Picassos from every period, some mobiles by Calder. I also collect tiny Japanese trees, glass paperweights and Chinese vases. Name an object and I collect it."[18] Wilder's artistic ambitions led him to create a series of works of his own. By the early 90s, Wilder had amassed a beguiling assortment of plastic-artistic constructions, many of which were made in collaboration with artist Bruce Houston. In 1993, art dealer Louis Stern, a longtime friend, helped organize an exhibition of Wilder's work at his Beverly Hills gallery. The exhibition was titled Billy Wilder's Marché aux Puces and the Variations on the Theme of Queen Nefertete segment was an unqualified crowd pleaser. This series featured busts of the Egyptian queen wrapped à la Christo, or splattered à la Jackson Pollock, or sporting a Campbell's soup can in homage to Andy Warhol.[19]

Personal life

Wilder married Judith Coppicus on December 22, 1936. The couple had twins, Victoria and Vincent (born 1939), but Vincent died shortly after birth. They divorced in 1946. Wilder met Audrey Young at Paramount Pictures on the set of The Lost Weekend in 1945, and she became his second wife on June 30, 1949.

Death

Wilder died in 2002 of pneumonia at the age of 95 after battling health problems,[20] including cancer, at his home in Beverly Hills, California. He was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, Los Angeles near Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Marilyn Monroe's crypt is located in the same cemetery. Wilder died the same day as two other comedy legends: Milton Berle and Dudley Moore. The next day, French newspaper Le Monde titled its first-page obituary, "Billy Wilder dies. Nobody's perfect." - quoting the final gag line in Some Like It Hot.

Legacy

Billy Wilders grave (978339409)
Wilder's gravestone

Wilder holds a significant place in the history of Hollywood censorship for expanding the range of acceptable subject matter. He is responsible for two of the film noir era's most definitive films in Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard. Along with Woody Allen and the Marx Brothers, he leads the list of films on the American Film Institute's list of 100 funniest American films with five films written as well as having the honor of holding the top spot on it with Some Like it Hot. Also on the list are The Apartment and The Seven Year Itch which he directed, and Ball of Fire and Ninotchka which he co-wrote. The American Film Institute has ranked four of Wilder's films among their top 100 American films of the 20th century: Sunset Boulevard (no. 12), Some Like It Hot (no. 14), Double Indemnity (no. 38) and The Apartment (no. 93). For the tenth anniversary edition of their list, the AFI moved Sunset Boulevard to No. 16, Some Like it Hot to No. 22, Double Indemnity to No. 29 and The Apartment to No. 80.

Spanish filmmaker Fernando Trueba said in his acceptance speech for the 1993 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film: "I would like to believe in God in order to thank him. But I just believe in Billy Wilder... so, thank you Mr. Wilder." According to Trueba, Wilder called him the day after and told him: "Fernando, it's God." French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius also thanked Billy Wilder in the 2012 Best Picture Oscar acceptance speech for The Artist by saying "I would like to thank the following three people, I would like to thank Billy Wilder, I would like to thank Billy Wilder, and I would like to thank Billy Wilder." Wilder's 12 Academy Award nominations for screenwriting were a record until 1997 when Woody Allen received a 13th nomination for Deconstructing Harry.

Awards

Wilder received twenty-one Academy Award nominations; eight for Best Director, twelve for writing, and one as the producer of Best Picture. With eight nominations for Academy Award for Best Director, Wilder is, together with Martin Scorsese, the second most nominated director in the history of the Academy Awards, behind William Wyler, and the second most nominated screenwriter, behind Woody Allen.

Wilder won a total of six Oscars: Best Director for The Lost Weekend and The Apartment, Best Screenplay for The Lost Weekend, Sunset Boulevard, and The Apartment, and Best Picture for The Apartment. In addition, he received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1988.

  • Writers Guild of America west (WGA/W) – Screen Laurel Award, 1957 (with Charles Brackett) and 1980 (with I.A.L. Diamond). In addition to the career awards, Wilder was nominated 15 times for WGA Screenplay awards, winning five times, despite the fact that the award was not offered until 1948.
  • Directors Guild of America (DGA) – D.W. Griffith Award, 1985 (renamed the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999). In addition to the career award, Wilder was nominated eight times for the DGA Screen Director award, winning for 1960's The Apartment.
  • WGAw/DGA – Preston Sturges Award, 1991
  • Golden Globes: Wilder won five Golden Globes after the awards started in 1944: twice as the producer of Best Picture winners (Some Like It Hot and The Apartment); twice as a director (The Lost Weekend and Sunset Boulevard); and once as a screenwriter (Sabrina) (this award wasn't presented from 1955 to 1965, during Wilder's most successful years).
  • Honorary Golden Bear at the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival (1993).[21]

Academy Award nominations

Year Award Film Result
1939 Best Writing, Screenplay Ninotchka Sidney HowardGone with the Wind
1941 Best Writing, Screenplay Hold Back the Dawn Sidney Buchman and Seton I. MillerHere Comes Mr. Jordan
Best Writing, Original Story Ball of Fire Harry SegallHere Comes Mr. Jordan
1944 Best Director Double Indemnity Leo McCareyGoing My Way
Best Writing, Screenplay Frank Butler and Frank Cavett – Going My Way
1945 Best Director The Lost Weekend Won
Best Writing, Screenplay Won
1948 Best Writing, Screenplay A Foreign Affair John HustonThe Treasure of the Sierra Madre
1950 Best Director Sunset Boulevard Joseph L. MankiewiczAll About Eve
Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Won
1951 Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Ace in the Hole Alan Jay LernerAn American in Paris
1953 Best Director Stalag 17 Fred ZinnemannFrom Here to Eternity
1954 Best Director Sabrina Elia KazanOn the Waterfront
Best Writing, Screenplay George SeatonThe Country Girl
1957 Best Director Witness for the Prosecution David LeanThe Bridge on the River Kwai
1959 Best Director Some Like It Hot William WylerBen-Hur
Best Writing, Screenplay
Based on Material from Another Medium
Neil PatersonRoom at the Top
1960 Best Motion Picture The Apartment Won
Best Director Won
Best Writing, Story and Screenplay
Written Directly for the Screen
Won
1966 Best Writing, Story and Screenplay
Written Directly for the Screen
The Fortune Cookie Claude LelouchA Man and a Woman
1987
Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award
Won

Directed Academy Award performances

Year Performer Film Result
Academy Award for Best Actor
1945 Ray Milland The Lost Weekend Won
1950 William Holden Sunset Boulevard Nominated
1953 William Holden Stalag 17 Won
1957 Charles Laughton Witness for the Prosecution Nominated
1959 Jack Lemmon Some Like It Hot Nominated
1960 Jack Lemmon The Apartment Nominated
Academy Award for Best Actress
1944 Barbara Stanwyck Double Indemnity Nominated
1950 Gloria Swanson Sunset Boulevard Nominated
1954 Audrey Hepburn Sabrina Nominated
1960 Shirley MacLaine The Apartment Nominated
1963 Shirley MacLaine Irma la Douce Nominated
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1950 Erich von Stroheim Sunset Boulevard Nominated
1953 Robert Strauss Stalag 17 Nominated
1960 Jack Kruschen The Apartment Nominated
1966 Walter Matthau The Fortune Cookie Won
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1950 Nancy Olson Sunset Boulevard Nominated
1957 Elsa Lanchester Witness for the Prosecution Nominated

Major awards for directed films

Year Film Academy Award
Noms.
Academy Award
Wins
Golden
Globe Noms.
Golden Globe Wins
(beg. 1943)
DGA Award
(beg. 1948)
WGA Award
(beg. 1948)
1934 Mauvaise Graine
1942 The Major and the Minor
1943 Five Graves to Cairo
3
*
1944 Double Indemnity
7
*
1945 The Lost Weekend
7
4
*
3
1948 The Emperor Waltz 2 * Nominated
A Foreign Affair
2
*
Nominated
1950 Sunset Boulevard
11
3
7
4
Nominated Won
1951 Ace in the Hole
1
1953 Stalag 17
3
1
*
Nominated Nominated
1954 Sabrina
6
1
*
1
Nominated Won
1955 The Seven Year Itch
*
1
Nominated Nominated
1957 The Spirit of St. Louis
1
Love in the Afternoon
3
Nominated Won
Witness for the Prosecution
6
5
1
Nominated
1959 Some Like It Hot
6
1
3
3
Nominated Won
1960 The Apartment
10
5
4
3
Won Won
1961 One, Two, Three
1
2
Nominated
1963 Irma la Douce
3
1
3
1
Nominated
1964 Kiss Me, Stupid
1966 The Fortune Cookie
4
1
1
Nominated
1970 The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes Nominated
1972 Avanti!
6
1
Nominated
1974 The Front Page
3
Nominated
1978 Fedora
1981 Buddy Buddy
  • Only Golden Globe winners reported in these years

See also

References

  1. ^ "Oscar Firsts and other Trivia" (PDF). Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. February 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 25, 2015. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Cook, David A. (2004). A History of Narrative: Film Fourth Edition. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-97868-0.
  3. ^ "Billy Wilder Biography". Biography.com. 2015. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  4. ^ Philips, Alastair. City of Darkness, City of Light: Emigre Filmmakers in Paris, 1929–1939. Amsterdam University Press, 2004. p. 190.
  5. ^ Silvester, Christopher. The Grove Book of Hollywood. Grove Press, 2002. p. 311
  6. ^ Andreas Hutter and Heinz Peters (October 6, 2011). "Gitla stand nicht auf Schindlers Liste" (in German). Neue Zuercher Zeitung.
  7. ^ Armstrong, Richard (2004). Billy Wilder, American Film Realist. McFarland & Company. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-7864-2119-0.
  8. ^ 46 Cal.2d 715, 299 P.2d 257, CAL. 1956.
  9. ^ Sikov, Ed. On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder, Hyperion Press, 1998, pg. 328
  10. ^ Gore, Chris (1999). The Fifty Greatest Movies Never Made, New York: St. Martin's Griffin
  11. ^ "AFI's 100 Funniest American Movies Of All Time". American Film Institute. 2000. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  12. ^ "Critics' top 100". British Film Institute. 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2016.-
  13. ^ "One Head Is Better than Two," in Films and Filming (London), February 1957.
  14. ^ David Thomson. A Biographical Dictionary of Film, London: Little, Brown, 2002, p.936
  15. ^ Andrew Sarris, in The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929–1968 (Da Capo, 1996 [originally published in 1968], p.166) commented that Wilder is too "cynical to believe even his own cynicism" and referred to the "superficial nastiness of his personality". "You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet": The American Talking Film, History and Memory, 1927–1949 (1998) contains Sarris's revised opinion.
  16. ^ Morris Dickstein (Spring 1988). "Sunset Boulevard" Grand Street Vol. 7 No. 3 p. 180
  17. ^ José-Vidal Pelaz López. Filming History: Billy Wilder and the Cold War. Communication & Society, 25(1), pp.113-136. (2012).
  18. ^ Ed Sikov. On Sunset Boulevard – the Life and Times of Billy Wilder "Turnaround", pg. 582.
  19. ^ Charlotte Chandler. Nobody's Perfect: Billy Wilder – A Personal Biography. "Nefertete", pg. 317.
  20. ^ Clinton, Paul (March 29, 2002). "Legendary director Billy Wilder dead at 95". CNN.
  21. ^ "Prizes & Honours 1993". Berlinale. Retrieved January 3, 2013.

Further reading

  • Armstrong, Richard, Billy Wilder, American Film Realist (McFarland & Company, Inc.: 2000)
  • Dan Auiler, "Some Like it Hot" (Taschen, 2001)
  • Chandler, Charlotte, Nobody's Perfect. Billy Wilder. A Personal Biography (New York: Schuster & Schuster, 2002)
  • Crowe, Cameron, Conversations with Wilder (New York: Knopf, 2001)
  • Guilbert, Georges-Claude, Literary Readings of Billy Wilder (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007)
  • Gyurko, Lanin A., The Shattered Screen. Myth and Demythification in the Art of Carlos Fuentes and Billy Wilder (New Orleans: University Press of the South, 2009)
  • Hermsdorf, Daniel, Billy Wilder. Filme – Motive – Kontroverses (Bochum: Paragon-Verlag, 2006)
  • Hopp, Glenn, Billy Wilder (Pocket Essentials: 2001)
  • Hopp, Glenn / Duncan, Paul, Billy Wilder (Köln / New York: Taschen, 2003)
  • Horton, Robert, Billy Wilder Interviews (University Press of Mississippi, 2001)
  • Hutter, Andreas / Kamolz, Klaus, Billie Wilder. Eine europäische Karriere (Vienna, Cologne, Weimar: Boehlau, 1998)
  • Jacobs, Jérôme, Billy Wilder (Paris: Rivages Cinéma, 2006)
  • Hellmuth Karasek, Billy Wilder, eine Nahaufnahme (Heyne, 2002)
  • Lally, Kevin, Wilder Times: The Life of Billy Wilder (Henry Holt & Co: 1st ed edition, May 1996)
  • Phillips, Gene D., Some Like It Wilder (The University Press of Kentucky: 2010)
  • Sikov, Ed, On Sunset Boulevard. The Life and Times of Billy Wilder (New York: Hyperion, 1999)
  • Neil Sinyard & Adrian Turner, "Journey Down Sunset Boulevard" (BCW, Isle of Wight, UK, 1979)
  • Tom Wood, The Bright Side of Billy Wilder, Primarily (New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc, 1969)
  • Zolotow, Maurice, Billy Wilder in Hollywood (Pompton Plains: Limelight Editions, 2004)

External links

Ace in the Hole (1951 film)

Ace in the Hole, also known as The Big Carnival, is a 1951 American film noir starring Kirk Douglas as a cynical, disgraced reporter who stops at nothing to try to regain a job on a major newspaper. The film co-stars Jan Sterling and features Robert Arthur and Porter Hall.It marked a series of firsts for auteur Billy Wilder: it was the first time he was involved in a project as a writer, producer, and director; his first film following his breakup with long-time writing partner Charles Brackett, with whom he had collaborated on The Lost Weekend and Sunset Boulevard, among others; and his first film to be a critical and commercial failure.The story is a biting examination of the seedy relationship between the press, the news it reports and the manner in which it reports it. The film also shows how a gullible public can be manipulated by the press. Without consulting Wilder, Paramount Pictures executive Y. Frank Freeman changed the title to The Big Carnival just prior to its release. Early television broadcasts retained that title, but when aired by Turner Classic Movies – and when released on DVD by The Criterion Collection in July 2007 – it reverted to Ace in the Hole.

In 2017, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Avanti!

Avanti! is a 1972 American/Italian comedy film produced and directed by Billy Wilder. The film stars Jack Lemmon and Juliet Mills. The screenplay by Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond is based on the play of the same title by Samuel Taylor, which had a short run on Broadway in 1968.

Billy Wilder bibliography

A list of books and essays about Billy Wilder:

Armstrong, Richard (1 January 2004). Billy Wilder, American Film Realist. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-2119-0.

Horton, Robert (2001). Billy Wilder: Interviews. Univ. Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1-57806-444-1.

McNally, Karen (16 December 2010). Billy Wilder, Movie-Maker: Critical Essays on the Films. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-8520-8.

Phillips, Gene (5 February 2010). Some Like It Wilder: The Life and Controversial Films of Billy Wilder. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-7367-1.

Zolotow, Maurice (1977). Billy Wilder in Hollywood. Limelight Editions. ISBN 978-0-87910-070-4.

Irma la Douce

Irma la Douce ([iʁ.ma la dus], "Irma the Sweet") is a 1963 American romantic comedy film starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, directed by Billy Wilder. It is based on the 1956 French stage musical Irma La Douce by Marguerite Monnot and Alexandre Breffort.

Love in the Afternoon (1957 film)

Love in the Afternoon is a 1957 American romantic comedy film produced and directed by Billy Wilder which stars Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper. The screenplay by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond is based on the Claude Anet novel Ariane, jeune fille russe (trans., Ariane, Young Russian Girl), which had been filmed as Scampolo in 1928 and Scampolo, ein Kind der Strasse (trans., Scampolo, a Child of the Street) in 1932, the latter with a script co-written by Wilder. Wilder was inspired by a 1931 German adaptation of the novel Ariane directed by Paul Czinner. None of these works is related to the last of Éric Rohmer's "Six Moral Tales," the 1972 film L'Amour l'après-midi (Love in the Afternoon, released in the US as Chloe in the Afternoon).

One, Two, Three

One, Two, Three is a 1961 American comedy film directed by Billy Wilder and written by Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond. It is based on the 1929 Hungarian one-act play Egy, kettő, három by Ferenc Molnár, with a "plot borrowed partly from" Ninotchka, a 1939 film co-written by Wilder. The comedy features James Cagney, Horst Buchholz, Lilo Pulver, Pamela Tiffin, Arlene Francis, Leon Askin, Howard St. John, and others. It would be Cagney's last film appearance until Ragtime in 1981, 20 years later.The film is primarily set in West Berlin during the Cold War, but before the construction of the Berlin Wall, and politics is predominant in the premise. The film is known for its quick pace.

Sabrina (1954 film)

Sabrina (Sabrina Fair/La Vie en Rose in the United Kingdom) is a 1954 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Billy Wilder, adapted for the screen by Wilder, Samuel A. Taylor, and Ernest Lehman from Taylor's play Sabrina Fair. The picture stars Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and William Holden. This was Wilder's last film released by Paramount Pictures, ending a 12-year business relationship with Wilder and the company. The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2002.

Some Like It Hot

Some Like It Hot is a 1959 American black and white romantic comedy film set in 1929, directed and produced by Billy Wilder, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon. The supporting cast includes George Raft, Pat O'Brien, Joe E. Brown, Joan Shawlee, and Nehemiah Persoff. The screenplay by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond is based on a screenplay by Robert Thoeren and Michael Logan from the French film Fanfare of Love. The film is about two musicians who dress in drag in order to escape from mafia gangsters whom they witnessed commit a crime inspired by the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre.

Some Like It Hot opened to critical and commercial success and is today considered to be one of the greatest films of all time. The film received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. It was voted as the top comedy film by the American Film Institute on their list on AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs poll in 2000, and was selected as the best comedy of all time in a poll of 253 film critics from 52 countries conducted by the BBC in 2017. In 2005, the British Film Institute included this film on its list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14.

The film was produced without approval from the Motion Picture Production Code because it plays with the idea of homosexuality and features cross dressing. The code had been gradually weakening in its scope during the early 1950s, due to greater social tolerance for previously taboo topics in film, but it was still officially enforced until the mid 1960s. The overwhelming success of Some Like It Hot is considered one of the final nails in the coffin for the Hays Code.

Stalag 17

Stalag 17 is a 1953 comedy-drama war film which tells the story of a group of American airmen held in a German World War II prisoner of war camp, who come to suspect that one of their number is an informant. The film was adapted by Billy Wilder and Edwin Blum from the Broadway play by Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzcinski, which was based on their experiences as prisoners in Stalag 17B in Austria.

Produced and directed by Wilder, it starred William Holden in his Oscar-winning role, Don Taylor, Robert Strauss, Neville Brand, Harvey Lembeck, Peter Graves, Sig Ruman and Otto Preminger. Strauss and Lembeck both appeared in the original Broadway production.

Sunset Boulevard (film)

Sunset Boulevard (stylized onscreen as SUNSET BLVD.) is a 1950 American film noir directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, and produced and co-written by Charles Brackett. It was named after the thoroughfare with the same name that runs through Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, California.

The film stars William Holden as Joe Gillis, an unsuccessful screenwriter, and Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, a faded silent-film star who draws him into her fantasy world, where she dreams of making a triumphant return to the screen. Erich von Stroheim plays Max von Mayerling, her devoted servant, and Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough, and Jack Webb play supporting roles. Director Cecil B. DeMille and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper play themselves, and the film includes cameo appearances by leading silent-film actors Buster Keaton, H. B. Warner, and Anna Q. Nilsson.

Praised by many critics when first released, Sunset Boulevard was nominated for 11 Academy Awards (including nominations in all four acting categories) and won three. Deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the U.S. Library of Congress in 1989, Sunset Boulevard was included in the first group of films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. In 1998, it was ranked number 12 on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 best American films of the 20th century, and in 2007, it was 16th on their 10th Anniversary list.

The Apartment

The Apartment is a 1960 American romantic comedy film, produced and directed by Billy Wilder from a screenplay he co-wrote with I. A. L. Diamond, starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. The supporting cast are Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston, Jack Kruschen, David Lewis, Willard Waterman, David White, Hope Holiday, and Edie Adams.

The story follows C. C. “Bud” Baxter (Lemmon), an insurance clerk who, in the hope of climbing the corporate ladder, lets more-senior coworkers use his Upper West Side apartment to conduct extramarital affairs. Bud is attracted to the elevator operator, Fran Kubelik (MacLaine) who in turn is having an affair with Bud's immediate boss, Sheldrake (MacMurray).

The Apartment was distributed by United Artists to favorable reviews and commercial success, despite controversy owing to its subject matter. At the 33rd Academy Awards, The Apartment was nominated for ten awards and won five, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. Lemmon and MacLaine were Oscar-nominated and won Golden Globe Awards for their performances in the film. It provided the basis for Promises, Promises, a 1968 Broadway musical by Burt Bacharach, Hal David, and Neil Simon.

In the years since its release, The Apartment has come to be regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, appearing in lists by the American Film Institute and Sight and Sound magazine, and being selected by the United States Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.

The Bishop's Wife

The Bishop's Wife, also known as Cary and the Bishop's Wife, is a Samuel Goldwyn romantic comedy feature film from 1947, starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven in a story about an angel who helps a bishop with his problems. The film was adapted by Leonardo Bercovici and Robert E. Sherwood from the 1928 novel of the same name by Robert Nathan, and was directed by Henry Koster.

It was remade in 1996 as The Preacher's Wife starring Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, and Courtney B. Vance.

The Fortune Cookie

The Fortune Cookie (alternative UK title: Meet Whiplash Willie) is a 1966 black comedy film starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in their first on-screen collaboration. It was produced and directed by Billy Wilder from a script by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond.

The Lost Weekend (film)

The Lost Weekend is a 1945 American film noir directed by Billy Wilder and starring Ray Milland and Jane Wyman. The film was based on Charles R. Jackson's 1944 novel of the same name about an alcoholic writer. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It also shared the Grand Prix at the first Cannes Film Festival, making it one of only two films (the other being Marty) to win both the Academy Award for Best Picture and the highest award at Cannes.

In 2011, The Lost Weekend was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 100% based on 33 reviews, with an average rating of 8.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Director Billy Wilder's unflinchingly honest look at the effects of alcoholism may have had some of its impact blunted by time, but it remains a powerful and remarkably prescient film."

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes is a 1970 DeLuxe Color film in Panavision written and produced by Billy Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond, and directed by Wilder. The film offers an affectionate, slightly parodic look at Sherlock Holmes, and draws a distinction between the "real" Holmes and the character portrayed by Watson in his stories for The Strand magazine. It stars Robert Stephens as Holmes and Colin Blakely as Doctor Watson.

Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, the creators and writers of the BAFTA and Emmy Award-winning series Sherlock, credited The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes as a source of inspiration for their show.

The Seven Year Itch

The Seven Year Itch is a 1955 American romantic comedy film based on a three-act play with the same name by George Axelrod. The film was co-written and directed by Billy Wilder, and stars Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell, reprising his Broadway role from the play. It contains one of the most notable images of the 20th century – Monroe standing on a subway grate as her white dress is blown upwards by a passing train. The titular phrase, which refers to declining interest in a monogamous relationship after seven years of marriage, has been used by psychologists.

The Spirit of St. Louis (film)

The Spirit of St. Louis is a 1957 aviation biography film in CinemaScope and WarnerColor from Warner Bros., directed by Billy Wilder, produced by Leland Hayward, that stars James Stewart as Charles Lindbergh. The screenplay was adapted by Charles Lederer, Wendell Mayes, and Billy Wilder from Lindbergh's 1953 autobiographical account of his historic flight, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1954.

Along with reminiscences of his early days in aviation, the film's storyline largely focuses on Lindbergh's lengthy preparation for and finally his history-making transatlantic flight in the purpose-built Spirit of St. Louis high-wing monoplane. His take off begins at Roosevelt Field and ends 33 hours later on May 21, 1927 when he lands safely at Le Bourget Field in Paris. The film ends with actual newsreel footage of Lindbergh's ticker tape parade in New York.

UCLA Film and Television Archive

The UCLA Film & Television Archive is an internationally renowned visual arts organization focused on the preservation, study, and appreciation of film and television, based at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). It holds more than 220,000 film and television titles and 27 million feet of newsreel footage, a collection second only to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. It has more media materials than any other university in the world.

Also a nonprofit exhibition venue, the archive screens over 400 films and videos a year, primarily at the Billy Wilder Theater, located inside the Hammer Museum in Westwood, California. (Formerly, it screened films at the James Bridges Theater on the UCLA campus). The archive is funded by UCLA, public and private interests, and the entertainment industry. It is a member of the International Federation of Film Archives.

Witness for the Prosecution (1957 film)

Witness for the Prosecution is a 1957 American film depicting an English courtroom drama with film noir elements. It was co-adapted and directed by Billy Wilder and starred Tyrone Power (in his final screen role), Marlene Dietrich, and Charles Laughton, with Elsa Lanchester in a supporting role. Set in the Old Bailey in London, the picture is based on the play of the same name by Agatha Christie and deals with the trial of a man accused of murder. This was the first film adaptation of Christie's story (although a TV movie of the same name was made in 1949), and was adapted for the screen by Larry Marcus, Harry Kurnitz and Wilder.

Films directed by Billy Wilder
Awards for Billy Wilder

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