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Billy Wilder: Interviews

Edited by Robert Horton

240 pp., 10 b&w film stills

978-1-57806-444-1 Paper $25.00T

Paper, $25.00

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"When somebody turns to his neighbor and says, 'My, that was beautifully directed,' we have proof that it was not."

Always daring Hollywood censors' limits on content, Billy Wilder directed greats such as Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Ginger Rogers, Marlene Dietrich, Kirk Douglas, Audrey Hepburn, and Gary Cooper. Billy Wilder: Interviews follows the filmmaking career of one of Hollywood's most honored and successful writer-directors and spans over fifty years.

Wilder, born in 1906, fled from Nazi Germany and established himself in America. Starting with a celebrated 1944 Life magazine profile, the book traces his progress from his Oscar-winning heyday of the 1940s to the 1990s, in which he is still witty, caustic, and defiant.

Often playful and sometimes outrageous, but just as often very serious, Wilder details his rise as a Berlin cub reporter to a fledgling screenwriter in Hollywood's "Golden Age." He tells the stories behind his brilliant direction of such classics as Double Indemnity (1944), The Lost Weekend (1945), Sunset Boulevard (1950), Stalag 17 (1953), Sabrina (1954), The Seven-Year Itch (1955), Some Like It Hot (1959), and The Apartment (1960), among others.

A dazzling raconteur, Wilder gives the scoop on the royalty of cinema, from the maddening magic of Monroe to the uncanny empathy of frequent alter ego Lemmon. Though his natural tendency is to spin marvelous anecdotes on the subject of show business, Wilder also delivers penetrating and instructive observations on his craft. On screen, his special blend of cynicism and romanticism was always expressed in a style that avoided showiness.

Billy Wilder: Interviews includes in-depth profiles, spirited Q&A's, and on-the-set glimpses of the director at work. Taken together, the interviews form an unofficial memoir of a sophisticated artist once described by a colleague as the most unusual and amusing man in Hollywood.

Robert Horton is the film critic for The Herald in Everett, Washington. His work has been published in Film Comment, New York Newsday, American Film, and the Seattle Weekly.

240 pp., 10 b&w film stills