Honoring Billy Wilder

“A director must be a policeman, a midwife, a psychoanalyst, a sycophant and a bastard.” – Billy Wilder (June 22, 1906 – March 27, 2002)

I don’t know how else to communicate my love for Billy Wilder, especially on his 106th birthday, other than confessing that all throughout Script Frenzy, this had been my desktop image:

I adore this man and not only because he was first and foremost a writer, but also because of his thoughtful cinematic eye, his unrelenting wit and his love for making pictures that always translates onscreen. Double Indemnity (1944) is the first Wilder film I’ve ever seen and set the standard for every film noir I’ve screened since. Even though the number of times Fred MacMurray’s Walter Neff says “baby” is worthy of a drinking game, the delivery and commitment to the role is on point. Playing opposite of MacMurray, Barba Stanwyck’s Phyllis Dietrichson is a femme fatale in every sense of the term. The cinematography is stunning and the narrative is so artfully pieced together that it achieves an impressive level of suspense and entertainment without all the CGI and digital tricks of modern filmmaking. It also has lighter, amusing moments like the scene where Walter stops at a drive-in, orders a beer, drinks it in his car and is free to drive off. Oh, what it would be like to live in the 1940s.

Other classic Wilder must-sees:

  • The Lost Weekend (1945)
  • Sunset Boulevard (1949)
  • Sabrina (1954)
  • The Seven Year Itch (1955) (Currently on Netflix instant)
  • Some Like It Hot (1955)
  • The Apartment (1960)

Happy birthday, good sir. The legend lives on.

Photos via Tumblr

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