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Fedora (1978) Poster

(1978)

Trivia

Jump to: Cameo (2) | Spoilers (6)
According to the book 'On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder' by Ed Sikov, this movie had only a limited release in some European and American markets with little publicity. Apparently, an upset Billy Wilder complained that only "about $625 on a marketing campaign" was spent.
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Director Billy Wilder refused to allow anymore cuts to this film. United Artists had already cut 12 minutes prior to a preview in Santa Barbara, and the screening had gone poorly with the audience, who were laughing during the wrong parts of the film.
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This film is considered a companion piece to the director Billy Wilder's earlier classic picture, Sunset Blvd. (1950). Both movies star William Holden and deal with the life of an actress clinging to the past and unable to come to terms with fading fame and celebrity.
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Director Sydney Pollack invited this film's director Billy Wilder to a preview showing of the Al Pacino film Bobby Deerfield (1977). Wilder cast actress Marthe Keller after seeing her in this movie playing the part of Lillian.
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This film had its World Premiere on 30 May 1978 exhibited as part of a retrospective programme of the director Billy Wilder's work held at the Cannes Film Festival.
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This film is based on the novella by Tom Tryon. The novella was included in the anthology collection 'Crowned Heads' which was published in 1976.
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Distributor Allied Artists dropped the film after a poor response to its exhibition at a New York City Myasthenia Gravis Foundation Charity Benefit screening.
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Final film as a producer for Billy Wilder.
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The character and career of Fedora in the original Tom Tryon short story is based on elements from the lives and careers of Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Pola Negri, Olga Tschechowa, and Elfi von Dassanowsky. The Hungarian-accented director of the film "Leda and the Swan" in Dutch's letter-writing flashback is modeled after Michael Curtiz.
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Around the time when this film was made and released, a number of movies about Old Hollywood were being made, or had recently been made. These included Gable and Lombard (1976), Goodbye, Norma Jean (1976), Bud and Lou (1978) and W.C. Fields and Me (1976). Bogie (1980) and Mommie Dearest (1981) would soon follow. The book 'On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder' by Ed Sikov maintains these biopics weren't successful at the box-office, nor had director Billy Wilder's previous movie been, The Front Page (1974). Due to this, the script for this picture had a restriction imposed by United Artists; Wilder and writer I.A.L. Diamond had a deal to write the screenplay but UA had a 45-day option after its submission date to accept or reject the project. United Artists passed, and the project went into turnaround, with the project later receiving finance from German investors.
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This was the 4th and final time actor William Holden worked with writer-director Billy Wilder. Their previous films together included Sunset Blvd. (1950); Stalag 17 (1953) (Holden won the Academy Award Best Actor Oscar), and Sabrina (1954).
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This film's narrated by one of its leads, William Holden. Holden also narrated Sunset Blvd. (1950) (also written and directed by Billy Wilder), in which he starred in as well.
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Both this film and Sunset Blvd. (1950) examine similar topics; Hollywood actors and what happens to them with the passage of time. Sunset Blvd. deals with the passing of The Silent Era while Fedora concerns The Golden Age of Hollywood and the end of the studio system. These two films (considered by some to be 'bookends') were made about 28 years apart.
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When the Countess is reading the names of the rich and famous who have sent condolences, she pauses when she reads Marlene Dietrich's name, calling her a "real fighter." Dietrich had been directed by Billy Wilder in "A Foreign Affair" and "Witness for the Prosecution."
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This film was going to premiere as a US tele-movie from Lorimar Productions screening on CBS but before the network could finalize the deal, United Artists picked up the movie for theatrical distribution.
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Final film doing producing duties for regular Billy Wilder collaborator I.A.L. Diamond. Of the 8 producing credits for Diamond, all are for the position of associate producer, and all for films made with director Wilder.
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The exotic Mediterranean location where legendary movie star Fedora lived was on a villa on an island near Corfu, a Greek island in the Ionian Sea.
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Showbusiness trade paper Variety described this motion picture as a "bittersweet bow to the old star system".
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The 1994 publication of the biography Marlene Dietrich by Dietrich's daughter Maria Riva stated that by a comparison between this film with Ms. Riva's book, that amongst the handful of actresses upon which the Fedora character was based, Marlene Dietrich was the most dominant personality of them all.
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Faye Dunaway was a first choice of writer-director Billy Wilder to play the old Hollywood star, Fedora. Shortly afterwards, Dunaway would play another iconic actress from this same era, when she was cast as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest (1981).
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After finishing this film, Billy Wilder would direct only one more picture; the poorly received Buddy Buddy (1981) starting Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon.
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Faye Dunaway was originally offered the role of Fedora, and Marlene Dietrich was asked to play Countess Sobryanski.
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The movie Fedora is making with Michael York, seen during a flashback sequence, is entitled "The Last Waltz". Coincidentally, Martin Scorsese's real film with that title, The Last Waltz (1978), was made and released at about the same time as this film, both in 1978. Other than sharing the title, they've nothing in common; Scorcese's film was a documentary of The Band as they played their farewell concert.
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This movie was described as a "meditation on celebrity, the vanity of art, and the encroachment of age" by the 'Chicago Reader' whilst 'Time Out' said the film was "shamefully underrated . . . it explores the basis of cinema: realism, illusion, romance and tragedy - in a word, emotion."
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Star William Holden has headlined both of director Billy Wilder's star system film industry pictures - Fedora (1978) and Sunset Blvd. (1950).
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First film in around six years as a producer for writer-producer-director Billy Wilder whose last producing credit had been for Avanti! (1972).
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This movie marks the first time William Holden worked with Wilder since Sabrina (1954) - a gap of 24 years. All of their previous movies together had been made during the 1950s. Moreover, Holden's character in this movie is similar to his in Sunset Blvd. (1950).
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In the newscast announcing Fedora's death at the beginning of the film, among the characters she is said to have played are Madame Bovary, Joan of Arc and Lola Montez.
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When Henry Fonda gives Fedora the Oscar he mentions some of her leading men where Fredric March, Charles Boyer, and Ronald Colman.
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The script Barry Detweiler brings to Fedora is a new adaptation of "Anna Karenina" called "The Snows of Yesteryear." This title had actually been used for an episode of a British television show: Mrs Thursday: The Snows of Yesteryear (1966).
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The film was made and released about two years after its source novella of the same name by Tom Tryon had been first published in 1976.
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One of numerous screen-writing collaborations of director Billy Wilder and scriptwriter I.A.L. Diamond.
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Fedora is said to have made 41 pictures.
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Dr. Vando tells Dutch that Fedora is 67 years old.
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Dutch first met Fedora at MGM in 1947 on the set of "Leda and the Swan" where she was the star and he was 2nd assistant director.
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This was the penultimate film directed by Billy Wilder. Wilder's final film as director, released three years later was Buddy Buddy (1981).
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Cameo 

Henry Fonda: As himself, who is The President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who presents a Lifetime Achievement Oscar to Fedora. However, Fonda never actually served as president of AMPAS. Even though he's playing himself, his credit reads only "The President of the Academy" unlike Michael York who is credited as himself.
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Michael York: As himself.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Author Tom Tryon's original inspiration for his novel, upon which this the film was based, was silent star Corinne Griffith who in 1965 claimed she was not the original silent actress Corinne Griffith and was in fact a younger woman during a well-publicised divorce trial.
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Neither of this film's lead actresses who play Fedora, Marthe Keller and Hildegard Knef, sounded similar enough, nor could they be clearly heard, according to the film's director Billy Wilder as outlined in the book 'On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder' by Ed Sikov. As such, for the English language version, German actress Inga Bunsch dubbed their voices whilst Keller dubbed them for the French language version and Knef dubbed them for the German language version.
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Director Billy Wilder expected the actress that was cast as Fedora to play her both as a young and old woman. When Faye Dunaway passed on the part and Marthe Keller was cast as Fedora, Wilder was dismayed when the old age makeup prepared for the older Fedora (as Countess Sobryanski) aggravated a large scar on her forehead and caused so much pain that Wilder knew she couldn't act under those conditions. He was forced to cast an older actress for the old Fedora, and Hildegard Knef got the part. Wilder and Keller never established a good working relationship, with the result that her poor performance essentially ended her time as a Hollywood star.
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Actress Marthe Keller can be thought of as playing three roles in this film: the young Fedora, her adult daughter Antonia, and the older Fedora as impersonated by Antonia.
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Count Sobryanski says he and Fedora met on the SS Normandie the summer before the war in Europe and Antonia was born the following spring. This makes 1940 the year of Antonia's birth.
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At the public viewing, Fedora and Dr. Vando explain to Dutch that the medical accident that disfigured Fedora's face occurred in 1962, after 20 years of getting successful treatments at his clinic. Furthermore, the ensuing complications and stroke have kept her wheelchair-bound for 15 years. This makes 1977 the year of Antonia's death and the contemporary, non-flashback, time frame of the film.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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