Billy Wilder

Billy Wilder

Additional Names: Billie Wilder (Weiterer Name); Samuel Wilder (Geburtsname)
Darsteller, Regie, Drehbuch, Schnitt, Musik, Produzent
*22.06.1906 Sucha (heute Sucha Beskidizka, Polen); †27.03.2002 Beverly Hills, Kalifornien, USA

Biography

Billy Wilder was born as Samuel Wilder on June 22nd 1906 in Sucha (Galicia, Austria-Hungary). During WWI, the family relocated to Vienna, where Samuel graduated from school and started out as a journalist. In 1926, he moved to Berlin, and began working on the side as an uncredited scriptwriter. Wilder's contribution to Robert Siodmak's "Menschen am Sonntag" established him in the film industry, and he collaborated on the scripts to "Emil und die Detektive" and "Ein blonder Traum".

Shortly after Hitler was elected, Wilder emigrated to Paris where he co-directed the feature film "Mauvaise Graine". In 1934, he travelled to the United States and participated in the production of Joe May's "Music in the Air". After being put under contract by Paramount, Wilder teamed up with fellow writer Charles Brackett, and together they developed some of the most memorable stories in comedy history: They wrote the screenplays for "Bluebeard's Eighth Wife" and "Ninotchka" – both directed by Ernst Lubitsch – and for Mitchell Leisen's "Midnight".

In 1942, he made his Hollywood debut as a director with the screwball comedy "The Major and the Minor". He then directed Erich von Stroheim as German General Rommel in the war movie "Five Graves to Cairo" and collaborated with Raymond Chandler on the script to Wilder's seminal contribution to the Film Noir, "Double Indemnity". Next, he went on to win his first Academy Awards for the drama "The Lost Weekend". In the autumn of 1946, Wilder, whose family members were murdered in Auschwitz, came to Germany in the rank of a colonel of the US Army. In this function he oversaw the post-production of Hans Burger's documentary "Die Todesmühlen", which showed the liberation of the Nazi death camps by the Allied forces.

Wilder ironically captured the moral ambiguities and contradictions in post-war Germany in "A Foreign Affair", which starred Marlene Dietrich and was shot on location in Berlin. He followed with "Sunset Boulevard", a scathing satire on Hollywood's obsession with glamour and fame, which won Wilder and Brackett an Oscar.

From 1951 on, Wilder also produced many of his films and proved himself as a master of all genres. The bittersweet romance "Sabrina" was followed by the court room drama "Witness for the Prosecution", but it were his brilliant comedies like "Some Like It Hot" and "The Appartment", which cemented Wilder's now legendary status as an exceptional filmmaker.

With "The Fortune Cookie", Wilder paired the comical talents Jack Lemmon and Walther Matthau for the first time, and he later also directed the iconic duo in "The Front Page" and "Buddy, Buddy". His Cold War-comedy "One, Two, Three" was a commercial flop due to the geopolitical escalation after the construction of the Berlin wall, but later became a cult classic in its own right.

Retiring from directing in the early 1980s, the multiple-Award winning filmmaker and sophisticated storyteller continued to work as an advisor for United Artists and became a much-sought interview partner for admiring colleagues like Volker Schlöndorff and Cameron Crowe.

Billy Wilder passed away in Beverly Hills on March 28th 2002.

Filmography

1994/1995 A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies
Participation
 
1993/1996 Billy Wilder über Billy Wilder
Participation
 
1989 Aspekte: Wilder-Auktion
Participation
 
1989 The Exiles
Participation
 
1988-1992 Billy, How Did You Do It?
Participation
 
1987-1989 "Herr Ober, bitte einen Tänzer"
Participation
 
1981 Buddy Buddy
Director, Screenplay
 
1977/1978 Fedora
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1975 Eugen Schüfftan, Kameramann
Participation
 
1974 The Front Page
Director, Screenplay
 
1972 Avanti!
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1972 Alexander Trauner: Filmarchitekt
Participation
 
1969/1970 The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1965/1966 The Fortune Cookie
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1965 Ates gibi kadin
based on
 
1964 Kiss Me, Stupid
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1962/1963 Irma la Douce
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1961 One, Two, Three
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1960 Ninotchka
based on
 
1959/1960 The Apartment
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1958/1959 Some Like It Hot
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1957/1958 Witness for the Prosecution
Director, Screenplay
 
1957 Silk Stockings
based on
 
1956/1957 Love in the Afternoon
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1956/1957 The Spirit of St. Louis
Director, Screenplay
 
1954/1955 The Seven Year Itch
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1954 Emil und die Detektive
Story
 
1953/1954 Sabrina
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1952/1953 Stalag 17
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1950/1951 Ace In the Hole
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1949/1950 Sunset Blvd.
Director, Screenplay
 
1948 A Song Is Born
based on
 
1947/1948 A Foreign Affair
Director, Screenplay
 
1947 The Bishop's Wife
Screenplay
 
1946-1948 The Emperor Waltz
Director, Screenplay
 
1945 Die Todesmühlen
Editing
 
1944/1945 The Lost Weekend
Director, Screenplay
 
1943/1944 Double Indemnity
Director, Screenplay
 
1943 Five Graves to Cairo
Director, Screenplay
 
1942 The Major and the Minor
Director, Screenplay
 
1942 Tales of Manhattan
based on
 
1941 Ball of Fire
Screenplay, based on
 
1941 Hold Back the Dawn
Screenplay
 
1940 Arise, My Love
Screenplay
 
1940 Rhythm on the River
based on
 
1939 Ninotchka
Screenplay
 
1939 What a Life
Screenplay
 
1938/1939 Midnight
Screenplay
 
1938 That Certain Age
Co-author
 
1937/1938 Bluebeard's Eighth Wife
Screenplay
 
1936/1937 Champagne Waltz
based on
 
1935/1936 First Offence
based on, Story
 
1935 Thunder In the Night
Script editor
 
1934/1935 Lottery Lover
Screenplay
 
1934/1935 Under Pressure
Co-author, Dialogue
 
1934/1935 Emil and the Detectives
based on
 
1934 Music In the Air
Screenplay
 
1934 One Exciting Adventure
Original story
 
1934 Mauvaise graine
Director, Screenplay, Story
 
1933 Adorable
based on
 
1933 Was Frauen träumen
Screenplay
 
1932/1933 Un peu d'amour
Screenplay
 
1932/1933 Madame wünscht keine Kinder
Adaptation
 
1932 Madame ne veut pas d'enfants
Screenplay
 
1932 Das Blaue vom Himmel
Screenplay
 
1932 Where Is This Lady?
based on
 
1932 Scampolo, ein Kind der Straße
Screenplay
 
1932 Ein blonder Traum
Screenplay
 
1932 Es war einmal ein Walzer
Screenplay
 
1932 Happy Ever After
based on
 
1932 Un rêve blond
Screenplay
 
1931/1932 Der Sieger
Screenplay
 
1931 Emil und die Detektive
Screenplay
 
1931 Princesse! à vos ordres!
Screenplay
 
1930/1931 Der falsche Ehemann
Screenplay
 
1930/1931 Seitensprünge
Story
 
1930/1931 Ihre Hoheit befiehlt
Screenplay
 
1930/1931 Der Mann, der seinen Mörder sucht
Screenplay, Lyrics
 
1930 Ein Burschenlied aus Heidelberg
Co-author
 
1930 Der Kampf mit dem Drachen oder: Die Tragödie des Untermieters
Story
 
1929/1930 Menschen am Sonntag
Screenplay
 
1929 Der Teufelsreporter. Im Nebel der Großstadt
Cast, Screenplay