Billy Wilder

Billy Wilder – Five Graves to Cairo (1943)

Synopsis:
It’s World War II, and British soldier John Bramble (Franchot Tone) is the lone survivor of a brutal battle in Egypt. After wandering through the desert, Bramble finds a remote hotel. There, in order to stay alive, he assumes a false identity. When the famed German general Rommel (Erich von Stroheim), aka the Desert Fox, arrives at the hotel, Bramble realizes he’s being taken for a German spy. Can this lowly British soldier turn the tide in the war and foil Germany’s plans in North Africa? Read More »

Billy Wilder – The Major and the Minor (1942)

Synopsis:
Susan Applegate, tired of New York after one year and 25 jobs, decides to return to Iowa. Trouble is, when she saved money for the train fare home, she didn’t allow for inflation. So the audacious Susan disguises herself as a 12-year-old (!) and travels for half fare. Found out by the conductors, she hides out in the compartment of Major Philip Kirby, a military school instructor. The growing attraction between Susan and Kirby is complicated by his conniving fiancee…and by the myopic Kirby continuing to think “Su-Su” is only 12! Read More »

Billy Wilder – A Foreign Affair (1948)

Quote:
Phoebe Frost (Jean Arthur), an upright Iowa Republican member of Congress, travels to Berlin to look into reports of corruption among the occupying American forces. She enlists an Army captain (John Lund) in her crusade and finds herself falling for him, unaware that he’s the man romantically involved with a German cabaret singer (Marlene Dietrich) who can lead army investigators to a high-level Nazi war criminal. The post-war public was not ready to accept such a witty expose of American and German hypocrisy during its original release but A FOREIGN AFFAIR is now considered one of Wilder’s most underrated and iconic films. The black and white cinematography by Charles Lang and the screenplay by Wilder, Charles Brackett and Richard L. Breen received Oscar® nominations. Read More »

Billy Wilder – The Front Page (1974)

Quote:
Billy Wilder’s 1974 remake of the Ben Hecht – Charles MacArthur play The Front Page, famously adapted 34 years before, by Howard Hawks as His Girl Friday, is widely regarded as that point in time when Wilder’s art went into rapid decline, that the picture demonstrated that the director of Sunset Boulevard, Ace in the Hole, and The Apartment had lost his confidence, that he had become out of step with the times and could no longer connect with the tastes of a changing movie-going audience. In fact The Front Page is a reasonably successful adaptation, darkly cynical like most of Wilder’s best work. Wilder and collaborator I.A.L. Read More »

Billy Wilder – The Fortune Cookie (1966)

Synopsis:
While taping a football game, cameraman Harry Hinkle (Jack Lemmon) ends up slightly injured after a collision with star player “Boom Boom” Jackson (Ron Rich). When Hinkle’s scheming brother-in-law, lawyer Willie Gingrich (Walter Matthau), catches wind of the incident, he wants Hinkle to feign paralysis to scam the insurance company. Hinkle agrees to the plan, if only to win back his ex (Judi West). But Hinkle’s growing friendship with a guilt-ridden Jackson has him questioning the ploy. Read More »

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

Criterion wrote:
Years before they became major players in Hollywood, a group of young German filmmakers—including eventual noir masters Robert Siodmak and Edgar G. Ulmer and future Oscar winners Billy Wilder and Fred Zinnemann—worked together on the once-in-a-lifetime collaboration People on Sunday (Menschen am Sonntag). This effervescent, sunlit silent, about a handful of city dwellers (a charming cast of nonprofessionals) enjoying a weekend outing, offers a rare glimpse of Weimar-era Berlin. A unique hybrid of documentary and fictional storytelling, People on Sunday was both an experiment and a mainstream hit that would influence generations of film artists around the world. Read More »

Billy Wilder – One, Two, Three (1961)

Synopsis:
Berlin, after the Second World War: C.R. MacNamara presides over the Coca-Cola branch of Germany. He is working hard and trying his very best to impress the Atlanta headquarters, since he has heard that the European headquarters in London will soon be looking for a new head. Now, Coca-Cola boss Mr. Hazeltine asks MacNamara to take care of his daughter Scarlett, who is going to take a trip to Europe. Scarlett, however, does not behave the way a young respectable girl of her age should: Instead of sightseeing, she goes out until the early morning and has lots of fun. Finally, she falls in love with Otto Piffl, a young man from East Berlin and a flaming Communist, and marries him surprisingly. When MacNamara hears of this, he intrigues quite a bit with the help of his assistant Schlemmer to get Piffl into an East German prison, but when he also gets note of his Boss and wife coming over to visit their daughter in Berlin, he needs to get Piffl out again, convert him to Capitalism and present him as a fine young and noble husband in order to get his London post, and all of that very quick Read More »