Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The fellow above is one Samuel "Billy" Wilder, born this day 1905 in Sucha, Austria-Hungary. His mother nicknamed him Billie, which he changed to Billy when he moved to America. His parents ran a successful cake shop, and tried to get him to take over the family business, but cakes were not Billie's style, and he moved to Vienna to find fame and fortune. After dropping out of the University of Vienna, he became a journalist, and moved to Berlin. It was through this journalistic connection that he became interested in film, and since he was Jewish, he decided in the early 1930's to move to Paris. He eventually moved to Hollywood in 1934, and there he made the films that put him on our hero podium for today. His 1994 film "Double Indemnity" has been credited with being the first "film noir." He went on to a massively successful career, and the list of his outstanding films is lengthy indeed. "Sunset Boulevard" "The Lost Weekend" "Staalag 17" "Witness for the Prosecution", and "Seven Year Itch" are just some of his films. In total, he directed 14 actors or actresses that were nominated for Academy Awards in his films. He was nominated eight time for the Best Director Oscar, and won two of them. In 1960 he won the Best Director, the Best Writing, and Best picture with the film "The Apartment" quite a feat, and pretty much impossible to achieve in today's Hollywood. Most of Wilder's films were bereft of overt political overtones, and that was his intent. He wasn't too terribly interested in day to day politics, preferring instead to focus on human nature. His later years were marred by Hollywood's refusal to give him any more work, and he complained loudly, and often that it was because of his age. Regardless of that little blip, he was a fine director, and made some absolute masterpieces on film. So, for those wonderful films that are just plain brilliant, Billy Wilder (June 22nd, 1906-March 22nd, 2002, at the age of 95 of pneumonia) you are my (301st) hero of the day.

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