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Friday, June 1, 2012

Favorite Filmmakers | Billy Wilder

It should be noted that Rianna has indeed been absent from this blog at erratic periods in the last few months or so. And she apologizes. She's graduating next week and then she's going to be on summer vacation and she'll be spamming your dashboards all the time once more (whether you're ready or not). Because she needs to spend her time being sentimental and mushy about moving on in life and leaving people and a place she's known since she was a little kid; she's been slightly detached from her blog. But she promises her ever-lovely followers to be back to regular, somewhat quality blogging in about a week. And she's going to start it off a little early with a post in what she hopes will be a successful series, Favorite Filmmakers, in which she will talk about her favorite directors, producers, writers, etc. It'll be fun! Yeah! Well, let's get on with it. And P.S: Rianna promises to never talk in third person again.


BILLY WILDER (1906 - 2002)

Billy Wilder has written the screenplays for some of my all-time favorite films, a few of which I'm going to present to you right now. Before I continue on with this list, though, I'm going to have to confess something. Confess something extremely shameful and my ears are turning pink as I type this, but... guess what... I, uh... uh.. I haven't seen... well, I've got to come right out with it. I haven't seen it. I haven't seen The Apartment (1960). I know. I know. And I claim to love Billy Wilder & film & all of that! It's kind of a long story why I haven't seen it yet, but I promise it's at the top of my "You-look-like-an-idiot-for-not-having-seen-this-so-watch-it-fast" list. I've seen portions of it; just never the film as a whole, and I regret it deeply, and I'm sure as soon as I get my act together and watch it I'm absolutely going to love it. But I felt like I was going to have to explain its absence from this list. (I mean, I can't very well put it on there until I've seen it, right?) 

Anyway, now that we've gotten that deadly, embarrassing confession out of the way let's get on with it, shall we? This list is no particular order, as usual.

THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR | 1942 | Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland

Though this may not be Wilder's all time best work, it's still one of those guilty pleasure sort of films of mine. I caught it on TCM a year or two ago and it won my heart. Ginger plays a woman who disguises herself as a twelve year old girl to afford train fare, but while on the trip she meets an army man played by Ray Milland who doesn't notice the truth and takes her under his wing. Though Ginger probably couldn't pass for a twelve year old, if you squint hard she could pass for fifteen or sixteen perhaps. Anyways, this was one of Wilder's earlier American films and I really enjoyed it.

MIDNIGHT | 1939 | Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche 

This is one of those overlooked yet still wonderful movies from Hollywood's greatest year. I saw this one what seems like a long time ago, but I do remember liking it a lot, perhaps just as much as that other Claudette Colbert film everyone's wild about, you know, that one with Clark Gable and a bed sheet or something... (just kidding). Anyways, I also remember this movie being incredibly funny and just laughing until my sides hurt. Claudette plays a chorus girl stranded in Paris, broke with only a evening gown on her back, who starts to fall for Don Ameche, a taxi driver, whilst a millionaire sets her up to break up his wife's affair with another man. A thoroughly funny movie and some of Wilder's lesser known work. Claudette is also excellent, as usual.

DOUBLE INDEMNITY | 1944 | Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray

This is, of course, the classic film noir in which Fred's fatal attraction to Barbara's wicked Phyllis Dietrichson, a totally terrible-in-an-awesome-sort-of-way femme fatale (save that wig...) leads to dastardly results. It is really such a clever movie and one of the prime examples of film noir at it's best, totally riveting every step of the way. Likely credited to be one of Wilder's finest jobs and that's not an understatement because it's such an exciting storyline. One of my local theaters is doing a stage version and I really hope I'll get the opportunity to see it.

SUNSET BOULEVARD  | 1950  |  Gloria Swanson, William Holden

This is one of those films where Hollywood pokes fun at itself, and I just love movies like that. For those of you who aren't familiar with the plot (though I can't imagine that many of you are not!), Swanson plays Norma Desmond, a washed out has-been who gets her talons on amateur scriptwriter Holden. She turns her Hollywood mansion into his worst nightmare and forces him into staying there with her (and engaging in a awkward romance of sorts) by threatening suicide. This movie is just about near-perfect, I love everything about it, it's kind of like a film noir horror hybrid of sorts. And thanks to Wilder it has some of the best lines a picture ever had, like, "We had faces then!" and "I am Big! It is the pictures that got small!"

SABRINA  | 1954  | Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, William Holden

One of my favorite Audrey movies ever. She plays Sabrina Fairchild, the daughter of the chauffeur at the Larrabee mansion, who has always held a torch for the younger, playboy Larabee brother, David (played by Holden), who hasn't noticed the knock-kneed child of the help since they were little kids. After a trip to Paris transforms Sabrina into a sophisticated young lady, she catches the eyes of both brothers, but for different reasons - and it isn't long before she finds herself in a love triangle of sorts. This film is charming, romantic, amusing and one of my personal favorites, kind of like a 50's twist on the Cinderella story. Perhaps not everyone's cup of tea yet still one I always recommend because I happen to adore it.

LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON  | 1957  | Audrey Hepburn, Gary Cooper

It seems I rather enjoy Wilder/Hepburn collaborations (which ought to make sense, as they're both favorites of mine). Audrey plays quiet, cello playing Ariane, the daughter of a private investigator. Through the work of her father she learns of an American playboy by the name of Frank Flannagan, or Gary Cooper. As expected the two become romantically involved but there is also a number of hilarious misunderstandings. Everytime I watch this movie, I'm struck by how funny it is! And not in that clever, chuckle a bit sorta way but in a laugh-out-loud manner. It's so witty and I absolutely love the scenes where Audrey's naive character makes up a list of men she's been with to make the experienced Flannagan jealous, and how this list drives him absolutely crazy. This is just a fabulous movie. 

SOME LIKE IT HOT  | 1958  | Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon

I'm not going to talk all that much about this movie, because you know why? It's just near flawless and one of the best of the sophisticated comedy sort you'll ever find. And if you haven't seen it, you've probably been underneath a rock or something! I can't imagine that you wouldn't know, but Curtis and Lemmon play two musicians who witness a mob hit and flee the state by disguising themselves as women and joining an all female band. But when they meet Sugar Kane, played by Marilyn, complications set in as the temptation proves to be too great. This movie is just hilarious, as if I would even need to say it. Curtis and Lemmon are wonderful together as usual. As it is well understood in these parts, I'm not the biggest fan of Marilyn's (by the way, though,  Happy birthday!), but I loved her in this. The last line is famously, "Nobody's perfect!", but I don't know, this movie comes about thisclose.


I trimmed that list and forced myself to leave out movies like Witness for the Persecution (1957) and The Spirit of St. Louis (1957); because really, I've come to this conclusion: I love Billy Wilder films way too much.

Anyways, I promise I'll be around this blog way more often in about a week or so, okay? And I'll have my review up on Sunday as usual, and hopefully this Favorite Filmmakers series is going to go great. Also, I (and mon amie Natalie) have something really exciting planned for this summer that I'll be talking about in a bit. So don't despair, dear followers! :)

[By the way: I'm just tagging this with Billy Wilder & 'Favorite Filmmakers' because Blogger wouldn't let me tag all the actors, alright?]


Kristen said...

Congrats on graduating! I recently graduated from college so I understand, too much to do and too little time. Love the Billy Wilder post, many of these movies would be on my Top 5 of Wilder's films!

Natalie said...

Oh, Rianna, I loved this post (you're so hysterical, that first in-third-person bit was brilliant)! I was just realizing the other day that I really like Billy Wilder...and now I'm realizing I need to see more! ;) Thanks for giving me a couple of places to start. :D

Dani said...

I LOVE Billy Wilder. He's one of my favorite directors as well and I really admire him not only for his ability with the camera, but also for his excelllent writing. He was so witty and most of his scripts were flawless.
I recently saw "A foreign affair" and I loved the combination of Wilder and Jean Arthur. She's very funny and sweet.
I think "The apartment" was my first or second Wilder movie (I watched it during my Jack Lemmon phase) and it's one of my favorite movies. Any film that Lemmon and Wilder made together is worth watching.
And, "Double indemnity" is my favorite movie (alongside "West Side Story") and definitely the best noir I've ever seen.

Paul at Lasso The Movies said...

Billy Wilder made some of the most important movies of all time. Why isn't he more praised today? I love Some Like It Hot and The Apartment the most. Thanks for the post and thanks for loving Billy Wilder.

Rianna said...

I know what you mean, this past week has been crazy :) But vacation's here now and I get to relax and post a lot! :D Anyways, thanks, glad you liked it!!

Rianna said...

Haha, I'm glad you liked my third person bit :D When I was writing this I was thinking that Billy Wilder worked with your Miss a awful lot. You're welcome, I hope you check some of it out and enjoy it! :)

Rianna said...

Totally agree with you. Wilder was stunning as both a director & writer; I would love to have even a little bit of his wit!
I adore Jean Arthur so I'll have to see that one; she and Wilder seem like a good combo. (I love that childish quality to her.. or maybe it's the voice..)
I REALLY need to see The Apartment in its entirety, this summer definitely. Besides, I love everyone in it, and Wilder of course.

Rianna said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I hate it that Wilder and many many others aren't praised as much as they should be today - after all, these were the people that helped shaped cinema from the start! I'm glad you liked this post!

Irene Palfy said...

Just a short comment to say: Yes, I adore Billy Wilder's work, too.. ;") Great post, Rianna! Enjoyed it very, very much!

Rianna said...

Thanks a lot, Irene! Wasn't he wonderful?? Have a good rest of the week:)

Kate Gorman said...

Love his films too. Love Mrs. Miniver, The Heiress, Roman Holiday, and Sabrina. xx

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