Billy Wilder’s cynical streak is a mile wide in this story of muckraker journalist Chuck Tatum, who plots an amoral scheme to take advantage of a collapsed mine incident in the deserts of New Mexico. Starring Kirk Douglas in full snarling villain mode, it’s a film that looks squarely at the relationship between the press and public calamities that allow it to sell papers. If you have any preconceived notions about ’50s movies being wholesome, Ace in the Hole will soon put those to bed. —Amy Glynn
Films of the 1940s
Rather than being a hoary, stage-bound relic from a bygone era, it remains fresh and suspenseful, with a superb cast. But where does 1957 filmWitness for the Prosecution stand in Billy Wilder’s hugely impressive body of work.
Billy Wilder, one of American cinema’s premiere writer-directors, has always maintained that movies are “authored,” and has always felt that much of a film’s direction ideally should take place in the writing. Like many of the medium’s great filmmakers, Wilder began his career as a writer, yet he is unique in the extent of his involvement in the development of the material he has directed. Indeed, he has cowritten all twenty-four of his films.
Films of Billy Wilder
Writer, director, and producer Billy Wilder (1906-2002), an Austrian-born immigrant to America, won seven Academy Awards and was nominated eight times for best director. This fourth and final CCA of the 2017-2018 academic year will explore Wilder’s life, genius, and legacy.
Sweet & Sour: films by Billy Wilder
The legendary screenwriter and Hollywood director Billy Wilder was a brilliant word artist. His Oscar-winning classics are brimming with irresistible and cynical humour: incredibly funny, bold and incisive. From 5 July Eye presents a comprehensive programme on Wilder’s films, most of them comedies with a dark edge.
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Monroe was frequently late to set, and notoriously struggled to remember her lines. One scene, which called for Monroe to open drawers and proclaim “Where’s the bourbon?” was only successfully filmed after 59 takes. Monroe repeatedly goofed the line, saying “Where’s the bonbon?”, “Where’s the whiskey?” and “Where’s the bottle?” that Wilder pasted the line to the bottom of the drawer she had to open. When Monroe struggled to remember which specific drawer Wilder wanted her to open, he pasted the line to the bottom of every one of them.
Conversations with Billy
Over there at the piano, swirling a drink, is the doomed Walter Neff from Double Indemnity. He’s trying not to stare at the effervescent Sugar Kane from Some Like It Hot. Fran Kubelik and C. C. Baxter from The Apartment dance closely to some postmodern jazz in another room, while Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard descends the main staircase. And outside, hiding in a tree on this moonlit night, yearning for a glimpse of David Larrabee, studying every movement in this full house of wildly different characters, crouches the lovesick Sabrina.