Screenwriter Profile: Billy Wilder

billy_wilder

The Writer:

Billy Wilder is one of the great legends of screenwriting. His mix of classic comedies and riveting dramas set the standard for excellence in writing and directing.

Wilder was born in what is now Poland. He originally intended to become a lawyer then spent several years working as a journalist. He turned to screenwriting in 1929 and wrote scripts in Berlin until Hitler came to power in 1933. A man of Jewish descent, Wilder quickly emigrated to Paris then later to the United States. Wilder came to Hollywood not speaking a word of English but picked up the lingo and the business very quickly.

His greatest works include Some Like it Hot, Sunset Blvd., Sabrina, Double Indemnity, and The Apartment.

Credits:

Sabrina (earlier screenplay) – 1995

Hallmark Hall of Fame (TV series) – 1982

Buddy Buddy – 1981

Fedora (writer) – 1978

The Front Page (screenplay) – 1974

Double Indemnity (TV movie) (1944 screenplay) – 1973

Avanti! – 1972

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (written by) – 1970

Casino Royale (uncredited) – 1967

The Fortune Cookie (written by) – 1966

Ates gibi kadin (story “Ball of Fire” – uncredited) – 1965

Kiss Me, Stupid (screenplay) – 1964

Irma la Douce (writer) – 1963

One, Two, Three (screenplay) – 1961

Ocean’s Eleven (uncredited) – 1960

The Apartment (written by) – 1960

Ninotchka (TV movie) (1939 screenplay) – 1960

Some Like It Hot (screenplay) – 1959

Witness for the Prosecution (screenplay) – 1957

Love in the Afternoon (screenplay) – 1957

The Spirit of St. Louis (screenplay) – 1957

Robert Montgomery Presents (TV series) – 1956

The Seven Year Itch (screenplay) – 1955

Lux Video Theatre (TV series) – 1954-55

Emil und die Detektive (earlier screenplay / as Billie Wilder) – 1954

Sabrina (screenplay) – 1954

Stalag 17 (written for the screen by) – 1953

Ace in the Hole (written by) – 1951

Sunset Blvd. (written by) – 1950

A Song Is Born (story “From A to Z”) – 1948

A Foreign Affair (screenplay) – 1948

The Emperor Waltz (written by) – 1948

The Bishop’s Wife (uncredited) – 1947

The Lost Weekend (screenplay) – 1945

Double Indemnity (screenplay) – 1944

Five Graves to Cairo (screenplay) – 1943

The Major and the Minor (written by) – 1942

Ball of Fire (original story / screenplay) – 1941

Hold Back the Dawn (written by) – 1941

Arise, My Love (screenplay) – 1940

Rhythm on the River (story) – 1940

What a Life (screenplay) – 1939

Ninotchka (screenplay) – 1939

Midnight (screenplay) – 1939

That Certain Age (uncredited) – 1938

Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (screenplay) – 1938

Champagne Waltz (story) – 1937

The Lottery Lover (screenplay) – 1935

Emil and the Detectives (uncredited) – 1935

Under Pressure – 1935

Mauvaise graine (screenplay / as Billie Wilder) – 1934

Music in the Air (adaptation and screenplay) – 1934

One Exciting Adventure (story) – 1934

Adorable (story “Ihre Hoheit Befiehlt”) – 1933

Was Frauen träumen (writer) – 1933

No Children Wanted (screenplay / as Billie Wilder) – 1933

Madame Wants No Children (adaptation) – 1933

Un rêve blond (screenplay / as Billie Wilder) – 1932

Ein Mädel der Strasse – 1932

A Blonde’s Dream – 1932

Un peu d’amour (screenplay) – 1932

Where Is This Lady? (story “Es War Einmal Ein Walzer”) – 1932

Emil und die Detektive (screenplay / as Billie Wilder) – 1931

Princesse, à vos ordres! – 1931

The Wrong Husband – 1931

Seitensprünge (idea) – 1931

Her Grace Commands – 1931

Der Mann, der seinen Mörder sucht – 1931

Ein Burschenlied aus Heidelberg – 1930

People on Sunday – 1930

Hell of a Reporter (as Billie Wilder) – 1929

Quotes:

Some pictures play wonderfully to a room of eight people. I don’t go for that. I go for the masses. I go for the end effect.

I just made pictures I would’ve liked to see.

Making movies is little like walking into a dark room. Some people stumble across furniture, others break their legs but some of us see better in the dark than others. The ultimate trick is to convince, persuade.Anyone who doesn’t believe in miracles isn’t a realist.

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