Unless They Were Directed by Billy Wilder
A retrospective on TV last night took me back to my childhood. In those days, movies were vetted by the Hays Code for inappropriate content. Wilder was quoted as saying, “You have to fool them.” In my opinion, his body of work was far sexier than porn is today.
In a Vanity Fair interview with James Cameron, Wilder reviewed the films he made and the history behind them. Most of the English quotes in last night’s TV show come from that interview. The rest was in German with subtitles.
So here is my take on the films by Billy Wilder that made the most impact on me.
Some Like It Hot!
I know I did! It was the movie that made me fall in love with Marilyn Monroe. Like the boy from the lyrics of Candle in the Wind, I was the ‘young man in the 22nd row’.
The juxtaposition of Tony Curtis’ evening with Jack Lemmon’s has always seemed cute to me. For me, as a ten-year-old, the movie’s payoff scene really packed a punch.
How did that get passed?
Irma la Douce
I never saw The Apartment until years later, so I wasn’t aware of the history of this odd couple. The amount of flesh on display in this film was highly titillating.
However, Shirley MacLaine was wonderfully quirky in her role.
It’s hard to believe that she would one day become a leading light in the New Age movement.
The Fortune Cookie
I never knew about insurance fraud as a youngster. So this movie was an education in itself. It also showed me to what lengths an insurance company would go to unmask the fraud, including a ‘honey trap’.
The fortune cookie’s ‘message’ is the whole point of the film…
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau had great chemistry together. They made many movies together, and they made me laugh every time.
These three movies have one thing in common: Jack Lemmon. After William Holden, he was Billy Wilder’s favourite actor. For many years, he was mine, too. He seemed to represent the bumbling fellow I felt I was.
He didn’t make me aspire to be like him. He just showed me that
even schmucks can get the girl.