Monday, August 24, 2009

The Billy Wilder Film Collection

Legendary Hollywood director Billy Wilder (1906-2002) worked in various genres throughout his long career. His 1944 crime picture Double Indemnity was a milestone that in many ways still sets the standard for today's murder mysteries and crime melodramas. But, without question, the director's truest affinity was for comedy.

The Billy Wilder Film Collection includes three stone-cold comedy classics (Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, The Fortune Cookie) and one amusing curio (Kiss Me, Stupid!).

Some Like It Hot (1959) is a classic screwball comedy, justly revered for its gender-bending premise and superb ensemble performances. Marilyn Monroe proves herself to be an adept comedienne as chanteuse Sugar Kane, Tony Curtis is great fun as a jazz saxophonist/lothario, and Jack Lemmon steals the show as an "everyman" whose reluctant female impersonation blossoms into a joyous celebration. The last line in the film, delivered by comedian/actor Joe E. Brown, is often cited as one of the greatest lines in Hollywood history.

The Apartment (1960) is a rare gem; a film of genuine pathos that never fails to deliver the laughs. Nearly fifty years after its initial release, this one still speaks to us. Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine are brilliant in their respective roles, bringing a sense of tenderness and vulnerability that is timeless. Tagline: "Movie-wise, there has never been anything like The Apartment...laugh-wise, love-wise or otherwise-wise!"

Billy Wilder's The Fortune Cookie (1966) was the first pairing of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, one of the great comedic duos in film history. Matthau's role as a morally bankrupt personal injury attorney is easily one of the highlights of this legendary actor's career. Without being polemical or overly-talky, this film manages to make insightful comments on such weighty issues as morality, race-relations, fidelity,!

Kiss Me, Stupid! (1964) is the one film in the set that feels somewhat dated, due to its then-topical examination of the swinger lifestyle. But Dean Martin's self-parodic performance as "Dino" is admirably scathing, and Ray Walston's role as a Beethoven-obsessed paranoiac is reason enough to check this one out. And, as in any Billy Wilder film, there is no shortage of memorable dialogue.

Find it in the catalog!