Billy Wilder

Billy Wilder – Irma la Douce (1963)

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Just three years after earning Academy Awards for Best Picture and Director for 1960’s The Apartment, Billy Wilder re-teamed with Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine for another look at love and relationships. But this time the drab New York insurance building was traded for the bawdy streets of Paris, and secretaries replaced with prostitutes. Once again, Wilder poked fun at the taboo subject of sex and again, his instincts paid off: Irma La Douce was Wilder’s biggest commercial success yet, and received three Academy Award nominations, winning one for Andre Previn’s lush score. Read More »

Billy Wilder – Sunset Blvd. (1950) (HD)

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An aging silent film queen refuses to accept that her stardom has ended. She hires a young screenwriter to help set up her movie comeback. The screenwriter believes he can manipulate her, but he soon finds out he is wrong. The screenwriters ambivalence about their relationship and her unwillingness to let go leads to a situation of violence, madness, and death. Read More »

Billy Wilder – Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Quote:
One of Wilder’s finest, and certainly the blackest of all Hollywood’s scab-scratching accounts of itself, this establishes its relentless acidity in the opening scene by having the story related by a corpse floating face-down in a Hollywood swimming-pool. What follows in flashback is a tale of humiliation, exploitation, and dashed dreams, as a feckless, bankrupt screenwriter (Holden) pulls into a crumbling mansion in search of refuge from his creditors, and becomes inextricably entangled in the possessive web woven by a faded star of the silents (Swanson), who is high on hopes of a comeback and heading for outright insanity. Read More »

Billy Wilder – Ace in the Hole (1951)

Review:
All Movie
A movie truly ahead of its time, Ace in the Hole (also known as The Big Carnival) turned out to be too bitter and cynical for moviegoers in 1951. An unrelenting portrait of media sensationalism and the human obsession with tragedy that propels it, the film is based on a true story that also spawned Robert Penn Warren’s novel The Cave. Director, screenwriter, and producer Billy Wilder suffered perhaps the biggest commercial and critical failure of his career with Ace, losing much of his standing at Paramount, even though the movie was released between two of his most enduring and popular triumphs, Sunset Boulevard (1950) and Stalag 17 (1953). Ace was perhaps not up to the standard of those works, but it clearly stands as one of Wilder’s many achievements. It’s hardly surprising that this film failed to find a mainstream audience, despite the added attraction of emerging star Kirk Douglas in the lead. American culture wouldn’t be ready for such a large dose of pessimism until the 1970s; even then, a film such as 1976’s Network, which clearly paralleled the tone of Wilder’s effort, was dismissed by many viewers as too hysterical. – Brendon Hanley Read More »

Billy Wilder – Some Like It Hot [+Extras] (1959)

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Plot Outline:
Two Chicago musicians are accidental witnesses to a gangland massacre and suddenly find themselves in even more urgent need of a job that will take them out of town for a while. Joe (Tony Curtis) is the smooth talker, and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) is the worrier. But both find themselves out of their depth with the disguise they have to adopt to avoid the mob – two new recruits to an all-girl jazz band.

As “Josephine” and “Daphne” the boys have to avoid detection and stay out of trouble. Not easy when “Josephine” falls for “Sugar” (Marilyn Monroe) who is the singer in the band, and “Daphne” is targetted by an aged playboy (Joe E. Brown).

Life gets really complicated when Joe adopts another male persona to seduce “Sugar”, and the Chicago mobs turn up for their convention at the hotel where our heroes are playing. Read More »

Billy Wilder – Double Indemnity (1944)

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Quote:
Billy Wilder only made one proper film noir, but it was a doozy: Double Indemnity is one of the most unrelentingly cynical films the genre produced, with a pair of career-changing performances from Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray and a script by Wilder and Raymond Chandler every bit as black-hearted as James M. Cain’s novel Three of a Kind, on which the film was based. The idiosyncratically attractive Stanwyck, generally thought of as pretty but hardly a bombshell, was rarely as sexy as she was as Phyllis Dietrichson, and never as sleazy; Phyllis knows how to use her allure to twist men around her little finger, and from the moment Walter Neff lays eyes on her, he’s taken a sharp turn down the Wrong Path, as Phyllis oozes erotic attraction at its least wholesome. Read More »

Billy Wilder – Sabrina (1954)

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A Cinderella tale of the very best kind, Sabrina is a powerhouse of talent. Under Billy Wilder’s direction, Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, and William Holden bring alive a wonderful love story full of comedy and drama that continues to surprise and delight with its unexpected turns. This new Centennial Collection release appears to not just add a bunch of new extras, but it also looks like the film image has gotten a second scrubbing. Well worth an upgrade. Read More »