DDD Home Page
DDD Music Lists Page
DDD Movie Lists Page
It is currently Mon Oct 20, 2014 8:02 am

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 14 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Billy Wilder
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:13 pm 
Offline
moderator
User avatar

Joined: Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:46 am
Posts: 4756
Location: here. hi.
BILLY WILDER
(1906 - 2002), Austrian (American features)

Image

"Wilder re-creates, mourns, and satirizes the Old World in his comedies and dramas. Like Stroheim, he can find the seamy underside of just about any culture, character, or situation. But he is also something of a romantic idealist, which gives his films a fascinating balance."
- The Film Buff's Catalog

"Although known for their caustic wit, Wilder’s films fluctuate between two polarities—the utterly romantic and the utterly cynical. The best of his work—Avanti, The Apartment, Sunset Boulevard—blends the two."
- The Director's Idea


FILMOGRAPHY
1934 Mauvaise Graine
1942 The Major and the Minor
1943 Five Graves to Cairo
1944 Double Indemnity
1945 The Lost Weekend
1948 The Emperor Waltz
1948 A Foreign Affair
1950 Sunset Boulevard
1951 Ace in the Hole
1953 Stalag 17
1954 Sabrina
1955 The Seven Year Itch
1957 The Spirit of St. Louis
1957 Love in the Afternoon
1957 Witness for the Prosecution
1959 Some Like It Hot
1960 The Apartment
1962 One, Two, Three
1963 Irma la Douce
1964 Kiss Me, Stupid
1966 The Fortune Cookie
1970 The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
1972 Avanti!
1974 The Front Page
1978 Fedora
1981 Buddy Buddy

Recommended First Watch: The Apartment


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Billy Wilder
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:52 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:11 pm
Posts: 7588
Updated.

Again, most of the TSPDT quotes are biased shit, even the ones I settled on. I'll be on the lookout for better ones.

As to why I italicized Double Indemnity and The Apartment over Sunset Blvd and Some Like It Hot, even though the first group is lower than the second group on the TSPDT list: these films are truly all at roughly the same level of acclaim. If you look into TSPDT's sources PDF, most of the votes that put Sunset and Some Like It Hot over the other two films are from Academy-type nonsense that doesn't really matter. Double Indemnity is really important for being a very crucial part of shaping the noir. The Apartment is really important for bringing a sexual frankness to Hollywood that would set the tone for the rest of the decade, making Some Like It Hot look like an episode of I Love Lucy in comparison. Some Like It Hot and Sunset Blvd are of course very acclaimed masterpieces, which is why they are red, but I think that for italicized on this forum we should favor importance to the medium over iconicness (which is where those films have an edge on the two I have chosen). So there's my reasoning, take it or leave it.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Billy Wilder
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:56 pm 
Offline
moderator
User avatar

Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:54 pm
Posts: 7959
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
nitpicker here

you actually didn't italicize the apartment


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Billy Wilder
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:57 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:11 pm
Posts: 7588
Oop.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Billy Wilder
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:23 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 2:43 pm
Posts: 1106
Shouldn't Sunset Boulevard be in italics instead of Doublewhateverthefuck. I mean, SB is usually his go to film when it comes to film classes and books and shit.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Billy Wilder
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:29 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:11 pm
Posts: 7588
Dreww wrote:
As to why I italicized Double Indemnity and The Apartment over Sunset Blvd and Some Like It Hot, even though the first group is lower than the second group on the TSPDT list: these films are truly all at roughly the same level of acclaim. If you look into TSPDT's sources PDF, most of the votes that put Sunset and Some Like It Hot over the other two films are from Academy-type nonsense that doesn't really matter. Double Indemnity is really important for being a very crucial part of shaping the noir. The Apartment is really important for bringing a sexual frankness to Hollywood that would set the tone for the rest of the decade, making Some Like It Hot look like an episode of I Love Lucy in comparison. Some Like It Hot and Sunset Blvd are of course very acclaimed masterpieces, which is why they are red, but I think that for italicized on this forum we should favor importance to the medium over iconicness (which is where those films have an edge on the two I have chosen). So there's my reasoning, take it or leave it.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Billy Wilder
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:36 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 2:43 pm
Posts: 1106
Dreww wrote:
Dreww wrote:
As to why I italicized Double Indemnity and The Apartment over Sunset Blvd and Some Like It Hot, even though the first group is lower than the second group on the TSPDT list: these films are truly all at roughly the same level of acclaim. If you look into TSPDT's sources PDF, most of the votes that put Sunset and Some Like It Hot over the other two films are from Academy-type nonsense that doesn't really matter. Double Indemnity is really important for being a very crucial part of shaping the noir. The Apartment is really important for bringing a sexual frankness to Hollywood that would set the tone for the rest of the decade, making Some Like It Hot look like an episode of I Love Lucy in comparison. Some Like It Hot and Sunset Blvd are of course very acclaimed masterpieces, which is why they are red, but I think that for italicized on this forum we should favor importance to the medium over iconicness (which is where those films have an edge on the two I have chosen). So there's my reasoning, take it or leave it.


Oh, I thought Piper made this so I skipped over your post.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Billy Wilder
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 3:18 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:11 pm
Posts: 7588
Recently watched Sunset Blvd because I thought it may illuminate Mulholland Dr in some ways. If it does, I am not privy to it, and Sunset is easily Wilder's most overrated film. The narration just explains too much and makes the film boring.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Billy Wilder
PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2012 5:04 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 5:05 am
Posts: 2122
Location: Blackpowder Orchard
no it doesn't


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Billy Wilder
PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2012 1:08 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:11 pm
Posts: 7588
Yes it does?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Billy Wilder
PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2012 2:25 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 5:05 am
Posts: 2122
Location: Blackpowder Orchard
:thumb:
Love the VO too much to accept criticism of any kind. I can see why you deem it unnecessary because you can follow the movie perfectly. But I just love every single word of it, and Holden sings that shit. Mmmm... I think Sunset Blvd. is my favourite Wilder movie, but there is perpetual competition with Double Indemnity and The Apartment.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Billy Wilder
PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:24 pm 
Offline
moderator
User avatar

Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:54 pm
Posts: 7959
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Rewatched Sunset Boulevard for the 1950's critforum list which I'm planning to particpate in. It still holds up pretty well, but it's still very much in the vein of very well made Hollywood films that are too airtight and ultimately disposable. But Wilder actually wanted that, proclaiming to be a moviemaker as opposed to a cinema maker. He made films for the audience, he loved doing what he did, but he most certainly wanted money and success out of it, but really who doesn't? He made sure his movies were understood, maybe even looking down on the audience sometimes.

His tactics here are interesting tho, particularly in the VO narration. I think it's more complex than what it gives him credit for. For one, it's coming from a dead guy which is already in itself odd. The funny thing about it is that the voiceover describes visuals that are already on screen, which Wilder himself forbid in press interviews. Its benefit tho is that based on the screenplay, it gives the film a clever irony in having Holden as a hack mediocre writer have a strange and utterly original story to actually live through, but Holden never really considers it for career ideas during the film. But I do believe it was also necessary for reasons that are probably not entirely self-conscious of Wilder. Like Bresson, it's not just to expose information, but to provide a sense of rhythm that just doesn't feel right to them. Rather than only concentrating on cutting to provide rhtyhm in its temporal structure, Wilder used voiceover to cover dead space, which in turn helped him become highly economical too. Why try to discreetly dramatize 20 minutes of screentime when 2 or 3 lines of vo narration can get to the point AND provide the desired snappy pace that Hollywood demands? And another thing that I've found the narration provides, based on his great films, is Wilder was a master of tone. There's a very narrow area that Wilder has consistently teetered on between the serious and the witty. I wouldn't call his films black comedies, which kind of evoke more polarizing reactions, but there seems to be a perfect integration of the two sides (most masterfully displayed in The Apartment) that comes across as its own whole and seems more true. The VO keeps the audience less vulnerable. It provides a kind of safe grounding for how odd/silly and sometimes frightening the film actually is. Holden's voice juxtaposed with the stark imagery keeps the Wilder tone at bay, without it, the film would feel oddly theatrical and decentered a bit too much to be taken seriously. The result I think, gives it a kind of Brechtian nature, but because of the content of the film, it falls on a state of equilbirum between audience awareness and immersion.

And of course the performances are great, with Swanson as perhaps one of the greatest in all of Hollywood cinema. She goes through somany emotions in the film, fluctuating between moments of melancholy (attempted suicide, unreciprocated love, anger) and utter glee (chaplin impersonations, blissful ignorance, control of an inferior being and bits of wanting to submit under masculine control). And then Holden, desperate to suffer through shit to keep a paying job in Hollywood, fighting himself to not hurt Swanson throughout the movie (the vo again providing an internal monolgue that we can compare with his actions).

If I had faults of the movie tho, it is entirely dependent on how Wilder treated his films. Because of the tautness of his scripts in translation to the film, even the characters, as extraordinary as they are, become dead after awhile. Hawks on the other hand, worked with his actors, letting them take over, while he observed and worked with them to better themselves, not caring if he had to change the script. That is why no matter how many rewatches, there are always actorly nuances that transcend his characters, where I feel like I'm actually watching people no matter how otherworldly his characters may be drawn. So it's best to watch Wilder films with adequate space in between because I do believe they were meant for quick reactions, but the mastery in its architecture are still there to savor despite its consumable nature. Wilder makes fast food, but he makes some of the best burgers around.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Billy Wilder
PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2012 6:11 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 4:26 pm
Posts: 4512
Location: Ohio
Good stuff, Jake. I like the analogy to food. It'd be fun to come up with more director/food analogies. Perhaps a thread.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Billy Wilder
PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:21 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 5:05 am
Posts: 2122
Location: Blackpowder Orchard
What I also love about Sunset Blvd. is how Wilder managed to write such a wonderful screenplay that not only is strangely ironic, dealing with a macabre tale of the destructive power of the Hollywood system while being itself an exemplary film of that system, but it also does a complete gender reversal of a film genre that became so huge in the '40s: the gothic romance films. This is something Wilder never gets credit for (ar at least not in any criticism of the film Ive encountered). But it's such an important part of the film, adding to the already dark and ironic nature of the film. Here, a down on his luck, cynical, yet highly pragmatic young fellow gets enticed and ensnared by this impressive dominant female. And despite all of his petty attempts to get out of this deal, never seems to be able to. What holds him back? The overpowering notion he has that this is where he belongs now. There are many similarities with the conventional female gothic movies (Caught by Ophuls, Secret Beyond the Door by Lang, Mildred Pierce by Curtiz, Rebecca by Hitchcock, Gaslight by Cukor, etc...), but actually none of these even compare to the way Wilder makes us believe the struggle the main character goes through in deciding how to handle the romantic entanglement.



more info on that Critforums list, Jake?


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 14 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:

DigitalDreamDoor.com   

Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group

DigitalDreamDoor Forum is one part of a music and movie list website whose owner has given its visitors
the privilege to discuss music and movies, and has no control and cannot in any way be held liable over
how, or by whom this board is used. If you read or see anything inappropriate that has been posted,
contact webmaster@digitaldreamdoor.com. Comments in the forum are reviewed before list updates.
Topics include rock music, metal, rap, hip-hop, blues, jazz, songs, albums, guitar, drums, musicians...


DDD Home Page | DDD Music Lists Page | DDD Movie Lists Page