Download A Foreign Affair: Billy Wilder's American Films by Gerd Gemünden PDF

By Gerd Gemünden

With six Academy Awards, 4 entries at the American movie Institute s record of a hundred maximum American videos, and extra titles at the nationwide old check in of vintage movies deemed useful of renovation than the other director, Billy Wilder counts as essentially the most finished filmmakers ever to paintings in Hollywood. movie historians and critics, in addition to his colleagues, have continually celebrated Wilder as an American grasp from the vintage studio period. but how American is Billy Wilder, the Jewish émigré from valuable Europe? to review Wilder s paintings is to check the transforming of a number of wealthy and sundry cultural sensibilities, formed via his adventure of displacement. This publication underscores those complexities, unpacking underlying contradictions the place past commentators oftentimes smoothed them out. Wilder emerges as an artist with roots in sensationalist journalism and the realm of leisure in addition to with an information of literary tradition and the avant-garde, positive aspects that bring about efficient and infrequently hugely unique confrontations among low and high.

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Fritz Lang’s exemplary urban realism 40 A Foreign Affair of Berlin, 1931—not just the sensationalism of the serial killer on the lose, but the deeper volatility of urban modernity, two years after Black Friday and two years before Hitler’s rise to power. This careful registering of a place in time when radical change is about to happen also informs Double Indemnity’s vicarious position between Depression-ridden 1930s and the (false) promise of postwar recovery and prosperity. I will have more to say below about the topicality of Double Indemnity.

Mayer, he never saw himself in opposition to the studio system, as auteurist criticism likes to claim about certain directors. On the contrary, he was a studio player who excelled within the system, 22 A Foreign Affair working at Paramount from 1937 to 1954 and with United Artists/Mirisch Company from 1957 onwards. There and elsewhere he worked with a steady ensemble of professionals who shaped his films in decisive ways. Most important, of course, was his teaming up with Charles Brackett with whom he wrote thirteen screenplays, debuting on Ernst Lubitsch’s Bluebeard’s Eight’s Wife (1938) and splitting up after Sunset Boulevard (1950), as well as his second long-time cowriter, I.

21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29 levard, and film director Cameron Crowe’s interview book Conversations with Wilder, who probes much deeper than any of his many predecessors. For complete references please consult the bibliography. See François Truffaut, “Politique des auteurs,” Cahiers du cinéma 31 (1954). Two American critics who consider Wilder an auteur in the above sense are Axel Madsen and Gene Phillips. The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929–1968 (New York: Dutton, 1968), 166.

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