By Gerd Gemünden
With six Academy Awards, 4 entries at the American movie Institute s checklist of a hundred maximum American videos, and extra titles at the nationwide old check in of vintage motion pictures deemed valuable of upkeep than the other director, Billy Wilder counts as some of the most entire filmmakers ever to paintings in Hollywood. movie historians and critics, in addition to his colleagues, have regularly celebrated Wilder as an American grasp from the vintage studio period. but how American is Billy Wilder, the Jewish émigré from significant Europe? to review Wilder s paintings is to ascertain the remodeling of numerous wealthy and sundry cultural sensibilities, formed via his event of displacement. This ebook underscores those complexities, unpacking underlying contradictions the place earlier commentators regularly smoothed them out. Wilder emerges as an artist with roots in sensationalist journalism and the realm of leisure in addition to with an understanding of literary tradition and the avant-garde, gains that result in effective and sometimes hugely unique confrontations among low and high.
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Extra resources for A Foreign Affair: Billy Wilder's American Films
Only one year after M’s release, actor Edward G. 19) While M is Wilder’s sole point of comparison within film history, he could have cited several of his own films as models for the urban realism of Double Indemnity—the location-driven Emil und die Detektive, for example, which like M spends much of its screentime on the role technology and communication play in the hunt for a fugitive. ” Menschen am Sonntag, Wilder’s breakthrough film, gains its strong sense of realism through the use of lay actors and real locations, conveying a firm sense of place that also informs Double Indemnity.
In his emphasis on the grotesque, his harsher social criticism, and portrayals of sexual deviation, von Stroheim wrote himself out of the Hollywood system. Yet it is these very features which remained a major influence on Wilder, who, as a young reporter, was captivated by von Stroheim’s films before he began writing scripts himself. Von Stroheim’s excesses are tempered in Wilder by Lubitsch’s respect for classical form, his humanity, and his optimism, which allowed Wilder a similar commercial success.
As stated above, Wilder is unique among Hollywood directors for never filming a script he had not written himself, which gave him unusual artistic control, but that control was only bestowed on him because his scripts were in compliance with the studio conventions of the time. That is why the process of narration in his films is usually consonant with the norms of classical Hollywood cinema regarding plot development, character motivation, and closure. If there is, then, a certain trademark quality to Wilder’s films, it lies less in their innovative formal aspects—even though Double Indemnity or Sunset Boulevard certainly broke new ground in their use of voice-over—than in how 24 A Foreign Affair Wilder’s scripts and films are invariably marked by a sarcastic humor, a biting cynicism, and a clever wit.
A Foreign Affair: Billy Wilder's American Films by Gerd Gemünden