Reviews - What do customers think about Billy Wilder: The Complete Films?
The Genius of Wilder Augmented by Wondrous Photographs Dec 6, 2004
To me, Billy Wilder is synonymous with the best of what Hollywood offered during the mid-century golden era. A consummate screenwriter, who eventually evolved into one of the leading directors and producers, Wilder has made film classics that have endured into our collective consciousness. Author Glenn Hopp does a nice job following Wilder's career from his birth in Austria in 1906 to his escape from the Nazi uprising in Germany to his eventual settlement in Hollywood. He started writing for his mentor, Ernst Lubitsch, penning the scripts for lovely confections such as "Bluebeard's Eighth Wife" and the Garbo classic, "Ninotchka". Then he made his directorial debut with a Ginger Rogers romper, "The Major and the Minor" in 1942. After that film he had a string of critical and commercial hits - "Double Indemnity", "The Lost Weekend", "Sunset Boulevard", "Stalag 17", "Sabrina", "Love in the Afternoon", "Witness for the Prosecution", and arguably his high-water marks, "Some Like It Hot" and "The Apartment", both non-coincidentally starring a never-better Jack Lemmon. Wilder continued into the 1980`s, but he became less assured with his later films. The book covers each film and provides tantalizing glimpses into the stars involved. It also has some interesting inserts on the visual style he displayed in certain films like "The Apartment", the use of minor characters, and most interesting, deleted scenes like a shot of Fred MacMurrray facing the gas chamber at the end of "Double Indemnity".
For those who want a more critical and detailed assessment of Wilder's career, this is not it. The book breezes through much of his history, but the photographs are wonderful, some familiar, many completely new to me, for example, color shots on the set of "Some Like It Hot". But if you are looking for a more comprehensive view of his work and his filmmaking process, as well as more on his personal life and dealings with his casts, then I suggest you pick up Ed Sikov's "On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder", a fairly thorough, even-handed biography. As with most of the Taschen books, this is well worth getting simply for the plentiful photographs beautifully presented.