Sunday, 20 May 2012

Retropective: 7 Billy Wilder Films


Double Indemnity (US/1944)   ****

A wife seduces an insurance agent into murdering her husband.
The epitome of the film-noir of the 1940’s. Brilliantly written, directed and acted, its mix of sex, violence and a hero/villain would remain forever unsurpassed and endlessly imitated.

d – Billy Wilder
w – Billy Wilder, Raymond Chandler   (Based on the Novel by James M. Cain)
ph – John F. Seitz
ad – Hans Dreier, Hal Pereira
m – Miklos Rozsa
ed – Doane Harrison
cos – Edith Head

p – Joseph Sistrom

Cast:    Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Porter Hall, Tom Powers, Jean Heather, Byron Barr, Fortunio Bonanova


The Lost Weekend (US/1945)   ***

An alcoholic writer goes on a severe binge over the course of two days.
The first Hollywood production to treat this subject seriously, it was remarkably original on its first release. Today, it remains a dynamically filmed piece of work, particularly its depiction of lower Manhattan.

d – Billy Wilder
w – Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett   (Based on the Novel by Charles R. Jackson)
ph – John F. Seitz
ad – Hans Dreier, Earl Hedrick
m – Miklos Rozsa
ed – Doane Harrison
cos – Edith Head

p – Charles Brackett

Cast:    Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, Phillip Terry, Howard Da Silva, Doris Dowling, Frank Faylan, Mary Young, Anita Bolster, Lilian Fontaine


Sunset Boulevard (US/1950)   ****

A young screenwriter becomes involved with a faded, reclusive star of the silent era.
A haunting, devastating melodrama that is brilliant in every conceivable way, from acting to writing to photography to design. On another level, its depiction of Hollywood and the way it treats its children, is not only crushing but unbelievably precise; with each passing year it becomes more and more haunting.

d – Billy Wilder
w – Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, D.M. Marshman Jr
ph – John F. Seitz
ad – Hans Dreier, John Meehan
m – Franz Waxman
ed – Arthur Schmidt, Doane Harrison
cos – Edith Head

p – Charles Brackett

Cast:    Gloria Swanson, William Holden, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Jack Webb, Lloyd Gough, Cecil B. DeMille, H.B. Warner, Anna Q. Nilsson, Buster Keaton, Hedda Hopper


Ace in the Hole (US/1951)   ***
(aka The Big Carnival)

In order to extend the commotion and boost newspaper sales, an egotistical journalist delays the rescue of a man trapped in a cave.
Harsh, at times downright nasty melodrama from the master cynic in which the seriousness and insight create a tremendously compelling piece.

d – Billy Wilder
w – Billy Wilder, Lesser Samuels, Walter Newman
ph – Charles Lang
ad – Earl Hedrick, Hal Pereira
m – Hugo Friedhofer
ed – Arthur Schmidt
cos – Edith Head

p – Billy Wilder

Cast:    Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Porter Hall, Bob Arthur, Frank Cady, Richard Benedict, Ray Teal, Lewis Martin, John Berkes, Frances Dominiguez, Gene Evans


Witness for the Prosecution (US/1957)   ***

A recuperating QC defends a man charged of murder and finds himself in a maze of deception.
Altogether rather silly aggrandized courtroom drama based on Christie’s witty play that is made thoroughly entertaining due to overall sophistication and, of course, the magnetic lead performance.

d – Billy Wilder
w – Billy Wilder, Harry Kurnitz   (Based on the Play by Agatha Christie)
ph – Russell Harlan
ad – Alexandre Trauner
m – Matty Malneck
ed – Daniel Mandell
cos – Edith Head

p – Arthur Hornblow Jr

Cast:    Charles Laughton, Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Elsa Lanchester, John Williams, Henry Daniell, Ian Wolfe, Torin Thatcher, Una O’Connor, Norma Varden, Ruta Lee


Some Like it Hot (US/1959)   ***

Two musicians who witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre disguise themselves as members of an all-girl band.
Deft, landmark comedy that many consider to be the best of its kind. Despite thin patches, it certainly works exceedingly well with a perfect cast and a director with endless wit.

d – Billy Wilder
w – Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond
ph – Charles Lang
ad – Ted Haworth
m – Adolph Deutsch
ed – Arthur Schmidt
cos – Orry-Kelly

p – Billy Wilder

Cast:    Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Joe E. Brown, George Raft, Pat O’Brien, Nehemiah Persoff, Joan Shawlee, Billy Gray, George E. Stone, Dave Barry


The Apartment (US/1960)   ****

A lonesome but ambitious clerk rents out his apartment to philandering executives until he discovers that one of them is with the girl he loves.
Beautifully realised romantic-comedy with a great deal of sting; it contains many of its director’s greatest touches.

d – Billy Wilder
w – Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond
ph – Joseph LaShelle
ad – Alexandre Trauner
m – Adolph Deutsch
ed – Daniel Mandell

p – Billy Wilder

Cast:    Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Edie Adams, Ray Walston, Jack Kruschen, David Lewis, Hope Holiday, Joan Shawlee, Naomi Stevens, Johnny Seven, Joyce Jameson, Willard Waterman, David White













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