Billy Wilder

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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Quote:
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 »

Billy Wilder – The Apartment (1960)

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Quote:
Immediately following the success of Some Like It Hot, Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond wished to make another film with Jack Lemmon. Wilder had originally planned to cast Paul Douglas as Jeff Sheldrake; however, after he died unexpectedly, Fred MacMurray was cast.

The initial concept for the film came from Brief Encounter by Noël Coward, in which Celia Johnson has an affair with Trevor Howard in his friend’s apartment. However, due to the Hays Production Code, Wilder was unable to make a film about adultery in the 1940s. Wilder and Diamond also based the film partially on a Hollywood scandal in which high-powered agent Jennings Lang was shot by producer Walter Wanger for having an affair with Wanger’s wife, actress Joan Bennett. During the affair, Lang used a low-level employee’s apartment. Another element of the plot was based on the experience of one of Diamond’s friends, who returned home after breaking up with his girlfriend to find that she had committed suicide in his bed. Read More »

Billy Wilder – Kiss Me, Stupid (1964)

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Quote:
A jealous piano teacher Orville Spooner sends his beautiful wife, Zelda, away for the night while he tries to sell a song to a famous nightclub singer Dino, who is stranded in town. Read More »

Billy Wilder – Fedora (1978)

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Synopsis:
‘The former successful and famous Polish actress Fedora commits suicide at the Mortcerf Station, jumping off in front of a train. The broken Hollywood producer Barry ‘Dutch’ Detweiler attends the funeral at her house in Paris and recalls that he might have caused her death. Two weeks ago, Dutch traveled to Greece Island of Corfu seeking Fedora out in the Vila Calypso, located in an isolated island owned by the bitter Countess Sobryanski. Fedora has been living an unsocial reclusive life for the last years in the villa with the countess, the plastic surgeon Doctor Vando and her assistant Miss Balfour, since she abandoned the set of a film that she was shooting in London with Michael York. Dutch brings the screenplay with a version of “Anna Karenina” to offer to Fedora, with the promise that investors would finance the film if Fedora accepts the lead role. Fedora, who is impressively young, is receptive to the offer, but the countess and the doctor tell that she is mentally unstable and can not act again…’
– Claudio Carvalho Read More »