Billy Wilder

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 »

Billy Wilder – The Apartment (1960)

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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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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)

An ambitious Hollywood hustler becomes involved with a reclusive female star whom he tries to lure out of retirement. Read More »

Billy Wilder – The Lost Weekend (1945)

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Don Birnam, long-time alcoholic, has been “on the wagon” for ten days and seems to be over the worst; but his craving has just become more insidious. Evading a country weekend planned by his brother Wick and girlfriend Helen, he begins a four-day bender. In flashbacks we see past events, all gone wrong because of the bottle. But this bout looks like being his last…one way or the other.

Fifty-six years have seen many advances in the level of realism portrayed on film, but it is safe to say that The Lost Weekend remains the benchmark against which all other films on alcoholism are measured. Its view is uncompromising yet it manages to present that view in a manner that does not require resorting to tasteless violence or nihilism to make its point (unlike, for example, a more recent film such as Leaving Las Vegas [1995], well-acted as it may be). The film’s realism is enhanced by extensive location shooting in New York, somewhat of a rarity for the time. Read More »

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. Read More »