Your Movie Bucket List: Spotlight on Billy Wilder

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Written by Natalie Mootz | Last Updated October 10th, 2019
Natalie has been writing for the web since dinosaurs roamed the earth. Or at least since dinosaurs achieved blogging technology. She's also written for About.com and Joystiq.

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For today's Classic Movie Bucket List, we're going to look at the work of director Billy Wilder.

Billy Wilder came to Hollywood from Austria at the age of 27 to escape Nazi Germany. His roots were as a screenwriter - a talent that propelled him to becoming "one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of Hollywood's golden age." During his lifetime he won 6 Oscars and was nominated another 15 times.

Here are some of Billy Wilder's most acclaimed films. I love all of these films for varied reasons. You get a 2-for-1 spotlight today since many of Wilder's movies star William Holden.

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

  • Genre: Film noir, character-focused (with some dark humor)
  • Stars: William Holden, Gloria Swanson
  • Synopsis: A loser screenwriter pretends to write a screenplay for a faded and eccentric silent film star's hoped-for comeback film. Weird things ensue.
  • Famous Quote: "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."
  • Oscars: Won/Best Screenplay, Nominated/Best Director
  • Rotten Tomatoes98% Critics, 95% Audience

Sabrina (1954)

  • Genre: Romantic comedy
  • Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden
  • Synopsis: A young woman returns home from Paris to find herself in a love triangle between a fun-loving playboy and his more sincere, but serious brother.
  • Famous Quote: "The 20th century? I could pick a century out of a hat, blindfolded, and get a better one."
  • Oscars: Nominations/Best Director, Best Screenplay
  • Rotten Tomatoes91% Critics, 89% Audience

Stalag 17 (1953)

  • Genre: War drama (with some dark humor)
  • Stars: William Holden, Peter Graves
  • Synopsis: American prisoners in a German POW camp suspect one of their number is an informer.
  • Famous Quote: "Hey Schultz, sprechen Sie Deutsches?Then droppen Sie dead!"
  • Oscars: Nominated/Best Director
  • Rotten Tomatoes97% Critics, 93% Audience

Double Indemnity (1944)

  • Genre: Film noir, crime
  • Stars: Barbara Stanwick, Fred MacMurray, Edward G. Robinson
  • Synopsis: An insurance salesman falls for a married woman who wants to kill her husband for the insurance money.
  • Famous Quote: "I wonder if you wonder."
  • Oscars: Nominations/Best Screenplay, Best Director
  • Rotten Tomatoes96% Critics, 95% Audience

Witness For The Prosecution (1957)

  • Genre: Courtroom drama (with warm humor)
  • Stars: Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton
  • Synopsis: After a heart attack, a barrister defends the case of a man who allegedly murdered an elderly widow to collect on her will.
  • Famous Quote: "Wanna kiss me, ducky?"
  • Oscars: Nominated/Best Director
  • Rotten Tomatoes95% Audience

 

Let us know in the comments what you think of these movie ideas -- and give us some of your own!

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