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Thread: Oooo, let's discuss... Billy Wilder!

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    Crying Enthusiast Sven's Avatar
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    Oooo, let's discuss... Billy Wilder!

    You know... if you wanna.

    Right now I'm in the process of procuring the last handful of his films I need to see before having seen them all. I was thinking about doing a review thread, a la dreamdead's Verhoeven thread, and my (very) dormant Herzog thread. However, being the busy-body that I am at the moment, working on as many projects as I am (I'd need to take off my shoes to make a tally), I think that a very general thread like this, where all are invited to give brief or extended thoughts, is the safest idea. This may even turn into a series!

    I choose Billy Wilder because last semester, I took a class all about him, and my appreciation was rejuvenated. So easy was it for me to get into his films as a budding cinephile that he was one of the first that I came to accept as a given, giving his work less consideration. This class I took (re)opened my eyes to the many-layered texts and visions of his work. Since then, I've watched or revisited nearly all of his films, except A Foreign Affair and The Emperor Waltz, both will probably be seen within the week. (And Death Mills, which I understand is entirely, if not largely unavailable.)

    I also choose Billy Wilder because I know he is much loved. Ms. Rouge is a huge fan, that is no secret given her appreciation of the Lubitsch. KF just gave The Apartment an overdue second chance, which worked for him this time. Spinal is a die-hard Sunset Blvd. man, nothing wrong with that. Basically, many people have seen many of his films. I hope that means people will respond.

    I also choose Billy Wilder because right now, I'm sitting outside of a projection booth that's running a beautiful print of Sabrina (William Holden marathon, biznatches! The Wild Bunch print was unreal!). I was reminded that I've been wanting to create this thread for a while, and as I am currently not pressed to do anything productive, voila!

    So yeah, if anyone has any issues about Wilder, wants to talk about any of his films, if even in pithy fractured sentence form, please do so. I'll pop in with a blurb or two about his films every now and then and to respond to all those who look like they need a good respondin'.

  2. #2
    A Long Way to Tipperary MacGuffin's Avatar
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    Only seen Sunset Boulevard but loved it. Don't know whether I should see Ace in the Hole next, but we may have talked about this already. There's too much to see. I just lose track.

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    Gushing Prayer Kurious Jorge v3.1's Avatar
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    Everyone should check out Volker Schlondorff's Wilder interview/documentary to see what a cynical son-of-a-bitch he really is!

    I love his 'darker' films such as Sunset Boulevard and Ace in the Hole. Both films would be in my top 100 if I were to compile such a thing.

    Iosos, I have 'Death Mills', it's available on a DVD of the German film 'Jud Suss' as an extra.

    EDIT: Here is the DVD I'm talking about: http://www.amazon.com/Jud-Suss-Holoc...6155577&sr=1-1

    Arrebato (Zulueta - '80) 89
    Elegia (Huszarik - '65) 95
    Szinbad (Huszarik - '71) 77
    Temptation of St. Tony (Ounpuu - '09) 80
    Marguriete of the Night (Autant-Lara - '55)62
    Kadin Hamlet (Erksan - '77) 52
    Passion of a Darkly Noon (Ridley - '94) 79
    Endangered Species (Rudolph - '82) 65
    Made in Heaven (Rudolph -'87) 20
    High Hopes (Leigh - '88) 74

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  4. #4
    Montage, s'il vous plait? Raiders's Avatar
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    I think what is so great about Wilder is that he was able to revel in dialog and have characters who spoke in unique cadence without ever coming across as overly precious. He always maintained a certain integrity and cunning quality to his dialog no matter how verbose.
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    Crying Enthusiast Sven's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Raiders (view post)
    I think what is so great about Wilder is that he was able to revel in dialog and have characters who spoke in unique cadence without ever coming across as overly precious. He always maintained a certain integrity and cunning quality to his dialog no matter how verbose.
    A very good observation, though pretty hard to clearly draw in the sand. What exactly is precious dialogue and how exactly does he skirt it?

    My favorite element of his dialogue is how funny it could be on the surface, but how frequently the surface is masking darker elements. Even in his comedies like Some Like It Hot, where death is more than an abstract fear, and Seven Year Itch, where Ewell's entire psychology is at stake. It's not just a farcical situation, but a plea for his own life and sanity.

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    Crying Enthusiast Sven's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Kurious Jorge v3.1 (view post)
    I love his 'darker' films such as Sunset Boulevard and Ace in the Hole. Both films would be in my top 100 if I were to compile such a thing.
    As I say above, I like that he's able to be "dark" even in his "lighter" films. At this point, I have a hard time distinguishing between the two, really. To me, Kiss Me, Stupid is just as unsettling as Ace in the Hole.

    Iosos, I have 'Death Mills', it's available on a DVD of the German film 'Jud Suss' as an extra.

    EDIT: Here is the DVD I'm talking about: http://www.amazon.com/Jud-Suss-Holoc...6155577&sr=1-1
    COOL! Thanks, I had no idea.

  7. #7
    Montage, s'il vous plait? Raiders's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting iosos (view post)
    A very good observation, though pretty hard to clearly draw in the sand. What exactly is precious dialogue and how exactly does he skirt it?
    Diablo Cody. :twisted:

    My favorite element of his dialogue is how funny it could be on the surface, but how frequently the surface is masking darker elements. Even in his comedies like Some Like It Hot, where death is more than an abstract fear, and Seven Year Itch, where Ewell's entire psychology is at stake. It's not just a farcical situation, but a plea for his own life and sanity.
    This is kind of what I meant. There almost is always a dual-substance to his words.
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    Crying Enthusiast Sven's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Raiders (view post)
    Diablo Cody. :twisted:
    I'm dreading the inevitable day that I actually see that movie.

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    Since 1929 Morris Schæffer's Avatar
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    Stalag 17 was very engaging, but then World War II is my favorite war.

    It's the only Wilder I've seen.
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    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Morris Schæffer (view post)
    Stalag 17 was very engaging, but then World War II is my favorite war.

    It's the only Wilder I've seen.
    I wonder what my favorite war is. Middle Ages feature more bloodletting and barbarism, but they aren't as mass killing as the latter wars.

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    sleepy soitgoes...'s Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Ezee E (view post)
    I wonder what my favorite war is. Middle Ages feature more bloodletting and barbarism, but they aren't as mass killing as the latter wars.
    Not to sidetrack the thread, but the beauty of WWII is there were so many angles. Lots of countries, fronts, etc.

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    Crying Enthusiast Sven's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting soitgoes... (view post)
    Not to sidetrack the thread, but the beauty of WWII is there were so many angles. Lots of countries, fronts, etc.
    And the idea of a clear-cut villain. Nazis, bad. Everyone else, good. Of course, Wilder undercuts this in Stalag 17 by making everyone a doofus, a placid villain, or a heroic asshole. Dude had contempt for everybody.

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    Body Double Thirdy's Avatar
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    Finally saw Double Indemnity some days ago. I wish they still made films of that sort nowadays. Pure brilliance.

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    Winston* Classic Winston*'s Avatar
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    Sunset Blvd and The Apartment are fantastic. I thought Double Indemnity and Some Like it Hot were good, but I dunno, maybe I was expecting too much. Would like to see more.

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    The Pan Qrazy's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting iosos (view post)
    And the idea of a clear-cut villain. Nazis, bad. Everyone else, good. Of course, Wilder undercuts this in Stalag 17 by making everyone a doofus, a placid villain, or a heroic asshole. Dude had contempt for everybody.
    Yeah the majority of World War II films don't give much play to the other Axis powerhouses. The Japanese get some screentime but less than the Germans and the Italians less than both... not to mention the other minor players.
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    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Qrazy (view post)
    Yeah the majority of World War II films don't give much play to the other Axis powerhouses. The Japanese get some screentime but less than the Germans and the Italians less than both... not to mention the other minor players.
    The Russians never get the spotlight.

    The Civil War fascinates me the most. I should get to that Ken Burns series.

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    The Pan megladon8's Avatar
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    I have The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes on my shelf, unwatched (by me....my dad has watched it).

    I actually didn't know it was a Billy Wilder movie until like a year ago.
    "All right, that's too hot. Anything we can do about that heat?"

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    The Pan Qrazy's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Ezee E (view post)
    The Russians never get the spotlight.
    Which is all the more odd given that they suffered the highest casualties of any country during the war.
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    sleepy soitgoes...'s Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Qrazy (view post)
    Which is all the more odd given that they suffered the highest casualties of any country during the war.
    The Cold War probably has something to do with this.

  20. #20
    sleepy soitgoes...'s Avatar
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    Just to get this back on track a bit, it's been awhile since I've seen a Wilder movie. The last was Ace in the Hole a year or so ago. I went on a kick where I saw most of his "biggies" at rather high clip. I need to delve into his 2nd and 3rd tier films some more. Thoughts on what next to view? I've seen:

    Double Indemnity (1944)
    The Lost Weekend (1945)
    Sunset Blvd. (1950)
    Ace in the Hole (1951)
    Stalag 17 (1953)
    The Spirit of St. Louis (1957)
    Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
    Some Like It Hot (1959)
    The Apartment (1960)
    The Fortune Cookie (1966)

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    The Pan Qrazy's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting soitgoes... (view post)
    Just to get this back on track a bit, it's been awhile since I've seen a Wilder movie.
    Same... I've seen...

    # The Fortune Cookie (1966)
    # One, Two, Three (1961)
    # The Apartment (1960)
    # Some Like It Hot (1959)
    # Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
    # The Spirit of St. Louis (1957)
    # The Seven Year Itch (1955)
    # Sabrina (1954)
    # Stalag 17 (1953)
    # Ace in the Hole (1951)
    # Sunset Blvd. (1950)
    # The Lost Weekend (1945)
    # Double Indemnity (1944)
    # The Major and the Minor (1942)
    The Princess and the Pilot - B-
    Playtime (rewatch) - A
    The Hobbit - C-
    The Comedy - D+
    Kings of the Road - C+
    The Odd Couple - B
    Red Rock West - C-
    The Hunger Games - D-
    Prometheus - C
    Tangled - C+

  22. #22
    Gushing Prayer Kurious Jorge v3.1's Avatar
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    I've Seen:

    Five Graves to Cairo
    Sunset Blvd.
    Ace in the Hole
    Some Like it Hot
    The Apartment
    One,Two, Three

    Arrebato (Zulueta - '80) 89
    Elegia (Huszarik - '65) 95
    Szinbad (Huszarik - '71) 77
    Temptation of St. Tony (Ounpuu - '09) 80
    Marguriete of the Night (Autant-Lara - '55)62
    Kadin Hamlet (Erksan - '77) 52
    Passion of a Darkly Noon (Ridley - '94) 79
    Endangered Species (Rudolph - '82) 65
    Made in Heaven (Rudolph -'87) 20
    High Hopes (Leigh - '88) 74

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  23. #23
    A Platypus Grouchy's Avatar
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    I've seen...

    Double Indemnity
    Sunset Blvd.
    Sabrina
    The Seven Year Itch
    Some Like it Hot

    The classics, basically. As mentioned, one of his defining characteristics is that he talks about serious and grave issues in a mocking, off-hand way, like fear of old age in Seven Year Itch or gender politics in Some Like it Hot. Also a great director of actors, there's not a single bad performance in any of the films I mentioned.

    Sabrina is boring as hell, though. That movie lost its charm early on for me.

  24. #24
    Producer Yxklyx's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting soitgoes... (view post)
    ... Thoughts on what next to view? ...
    Kiss Me, Stupid

  25. #25
    Screenwriter Philosophe_rouge's Avatar
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    Very right, I'm a pretty big fan of Wilder, though with my new love of Lubitsch I find I appreciate Lubitsch's lightness compared to Wilder's almost misanthropic darkness (at least at times). Even his comedies seemed to be weighed down by anger, or frustration that while perfectly executed can almost be too much for me at times. I will say, that perhaps in a way, this is truer to life... I've always liked the idea that comedy is closer to reality than fiction, or even that comedy is just one hair removed from tragedy. He seems to really capture that in his cinema.

    I really ought to revisit his work, many I've seen years ago, and owe a re-appreciation.

    I've seen:

    Essentials
    Sunset Blvd. (1950)
    The Apartment (1960)
    Some Like It Hot (1959)

    Good
    Ace in the Hole (1951)
    Stalag 17 (1953)
    The Seven Year Itch (1955)
    Sabrina (1954)

    Bottom tier (still worth recommending)
    Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
    One, Two, Three (1961)
    Kiss Me, Stupid (1964)

    I need to rewatch
    Double Indemnity (1944)

    Most want to see:
    The Major and the Minor
    Five Graves to Cairo
    Love in the Afternoon
    The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
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