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In 1988, Oscar-winning German filmmaker Volker Schlondorff ("The Tin Drum") sat down with legendary director Billy Wilder at his office in Beverly Hills, California and turned on his camera for a series of filmed interviews. The conversation went on for two weeks. The results were aired on German TV in 1992 and debuted on U.S. television when it was shown on Turner Classic Movies in 2006. We are presented with a generous smattering of film clips, rare photographs and artwork, but mostly Wilder just sits in his office and talks with the off screen Schlondorff, moving easily between English and German. Clips shown include: "Double Indemnity," "The Lost Weekend," "A Foreign Affair," "Sunset Blvd.," "Ace in the Hole." "Stalag 17," "Sabrina," "Witness for the Prosecution," "Some Like It Hot," and "The Apartment." Wilder discusses all these films, and the actors in them as well. Mostly, Wilder offers his philosophy of movie making from one of its undisputed masters. As one might expect from... Written by
Oscar-winning filmmaker and screenwriter Billy Wilder is interviewed in 1988, speaking rapidly in both English and German, touching on his perception of life through the camera lens via his childhood in war-torn Europe. Of course no Wilder conversation would be complete without behind-the-scenes stories on his many classic films, and wily Wilder seems happy to oblige our fascination with titles like "The Seven Year Itch", "Some Like It Hot", and "The Apartment". His recollections of working twice with actress Marilyn Monroe are particularly interesting, as are his off-camera skirmishes with Humphrey Bogart ("He did mock my accent..but everybody mocks my accent.") and James Cagney ("We were not of the same political persuasion."). Wilder is modest about his talents, grateful for the triumphs but well aware of the hurdles he had to maneuver to get his best work accomplished. Film historians will find this a wonderful documentation.
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