Billy Wilder was an Austrian-born American screenwriter and film director, who worked in the industry for five decades. He is still regarded as one of the versatile and brilliant directors in the industry. Modern casual movie fans might not know him or his work. Wilder’s film The Apartment was the first movie for which he won Academy Awards as a screenwriter, director, and producer. In the 1920s he wrote his first screenplay in Berlin. Then he made his directorial debut in Paris. He first co-wrote the screenplay for a comedy film Ninotchka, featuring Greta Garbo. He did his first direction for a crime drama, which was an adaptation of James M.Cain’s Double Indemnity. From the mid-50s, he mostly made films in the comedy genre.
All of Wilder’s movies were different from each other. At the same time, some could not differ in terms of the film’s tone or story. His brilliant writing skills and unique filmmaking style could be witnessed in many fantastic movies. In this article, we will talk about some of his creations according to the ratings on IMDB.
Sabrina (1954)- IMDB 7.7
Sabrina is a 1954 American romantic comedy-drama, adapted from Samuel A. Taylor and Ernest Lehman’s play Sabrina Fair in 1953. In the cast Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, and Audrey Hepburn played their respective characters perfectly. The film was also Wilder’s last released film by Paramount Pictures.
In this movie, Sabrina was the young daughter of the Larrabee family. She had a massive crush on David Larrabee for all her life. David, on the other hand, was a three-time married playboy, to try to impress almost all beautiful women. But David never paid attention to Sabrina, because for him she was still a child. In one evening, there was a party in Larrabee mansion, where Sabrina noticed David was enticing yet another woman. She was filled with anger and wrote a suicide note to his father. Fortunately, when she was trying to kill herself, David’s older brother Linus interrupted and saved her. Sabrina then sailed to France for her education. When she came back from France, she had transformed into a sophisticated and attractive woman. After that, the story was all about whether Sabrina succeeded to impress David or not?
Wilder’s lively and funny love triangle was unusual to watch on the big screen. The movie got nominations for 14 different Award categories. However, it won 5 of them, including Academy Awards for Best Costume Design-Black-and-White, Golden Globe Awards for Best Screenplay-Motion Picture, National Board of Review Awards for Top Ten Films and Best Supporting Actor, and Writers Guild of America Awards for Best Written American Comedy.
One, Two, Three (1961)- IMDB 7.9
One, Two, Three is a 1961 American comedy film written and directed by Wilder. It is based on the 1929 Hungarian one-act play named Egy, ketto, harom by Frenc Molnar, and the plot was also partly taken from Ninotchka. In the cast, there were some fine actors like James Cagney, Horst Buchholz, Pamela Tiffin, Lilo Pulver, Arlene Francis, and Leon Askin. McNamara is in a high-ranking post in the Coca-Cola Company in West Berlin. After working on an arrangement to introduce Coke into the Soviet Union, Mac received a call from his boss, Scarlett Hazeltine. And the story grows from there. The movie made $1.6 million from the box office release. The film was re-released in 1985 in France and became a box office hit in West Berlin. The movie got four nominations in Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Laurel Awards, and Writers Guild of America Awards.
The Lost Weekend (1945)- IMDB 7.9
The Lost Weekend is an American film starring Ray Milland and Jane Wyman directed by Wilder. The story was based on the novel of the same name by Charles R. Jackson in 1944. The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four of them. They were Best Director, Best Actor, Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay. In 2011, The Lost Weekend was added to the National Film Registry as “historically, aesthetically, and culturally” significant. On Rotten Tomatoes the film got a 100% approval rating based on 33 reviews, which makes it an 8.32 rating.
The story started on Thursday, the alcoholic writer Don Birnam, who lived in New York was packing for a weekend vacation with brother Wick. When Don’s girlfriend, Helen showed up with two concert tickets he suggested Wick join Helen for the show. After they left, Don found ten dollars that Wick left, he took the money and headed for the bar to catch Wick. But he lost track of time due to drinking, and when reached Wick was leaving. Don quickly sneaked into the flat and hid the bottles. The whole drama is about alcoholism and addiction, which was not a common subject at that time.
Stalag 17 (1953)- IMDB 8.0
It was a fantastic masterpiece then. Stalag is a comedy-drama war film set during World War II prisoner camp. The movie was an adaptation from the Broadway play of the same name, which is based on prisoners in Stalag 17B in Austria. The film starred William Holden, Robert Strauss, Peter Graves, Richard Erdman, and Otto Preminger.
The movie began in 1944, on the longest night of the year. Harvey, the cook, narrated the story. The rest of the film depicted the terrible life in the prisoner camp.
The film received an Academy Award for Best Actor. Holden gave the shortest Oscar acceptance speed on stage (“thank you, thank you”). On the other hand, Wilder was nominated for the Best Director.
The above are the few examples of Billy Wilder’s masterpieces. He was a great filmmaker of his era, and will always be remembered. I hope this was an informative article for you.
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