Billy Wilder – The Apartment [+Commentary] (1960)

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The Apartment is a 1960 American comedy-drama film produced and directed by Billy Wilder, which stars Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray. It was Wilder’s next movie after Some Like It Hot and, like its predecessor, a commercial and critical smash, grossing $25 million at the box office. The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards, and won five, including Best Picture. The film was the basis of the 1968 Broadway musical Promises, Promises, with book by Neil Simon, music by Burt Bacharach, and lyrics by Hal David.

Synopsis:
A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Robert Siodmak & Edgar G. Ulmer & Billy Wilder – Menschen am Sonntag (1930)

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A tale of five young Berliners – a taxi driver, a travelling wine dealer, a record shop sales girl, a film extra and a model – spending a typical sunday. In this vivid snapshot of Berlin life, a trip to the countryside reveals the flirtations, rivalries, jealousies, and petty irritations common to any group outing. All too soon it is the end of the day, and the prospect of Monday looms, and the return to weekday routine.

Considered one of the most important works of the German film Avant-Garde of the 1920s, and a huge influence on the French New Wave and Italian Neorealist movements, People on Sunday also marked the start of the film careers of six cinéastes who would go on to great success: Billy Wilder, Robert and Curt Siodmak, Edgar G Ulmer, Eugen Schüfftan and Fred Zinnemann.

The original negative of the film is lost and no complete copy exists, but this restored version has been reconstructed by the Netherlands Film Museum and contains important scenes previously missing. This version also features a vibrant new score by Elena Kats-Chernin. Continue reading

Billy Wilder – Ace in the Hole [+Extras] (1951)

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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 Continue reading