By Gerd Gemünden
With six Academy Awards, 4 entries at the American movie Institute s record of a hundred maximum American video clips, and extra titles at the nationwide ancient sign up of vintage motion pictures deemed important of maintenance than the other director, Billy Wilder counts as probably the most entire filmmakers ever to paintings in Hollywood. movie historians and critics, in addition to his colleagues, have regularly celebrated Wilder as an American grasp from the vintage studio period. but how American is Billy Wilder, the Jewish émigré from critical Europe? to review Wilder s paintings is to envision the remodeling of numerous wealthy and sundry cultural sensibilities, formed through his event of displacement. This booklet underscores those complexities, unpacking underlying contradictions the place earlier commentators regularly smoothed them out. Wilder emerges as an artist with roots in sensationalist journalism and the area of leisure in addition to with an expertise of literary tradition and the avant-garde, good points that result in effective and infrequently hugely unique confrontations among low and high.
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Additional resources for A Foreign Affair: Billy Wilder's American Films
Precisely because the film has been considered a classic of noir style—it contains a story that focuses on crime and violence; an iconic femme fatale; a fatalistic narrative replete with sudden plot turns and bad endings; a cinematography that relies on strong use of shadows, low key lighting, day-for-night or night-for-night shooting; urban settings and real locations; a modernist, even minimalist score; and hard-boiled dialogue—it has too often been dehistoricized as a prototype. In order to recharge it with the social and symbolic energy it once possessed, its formal inventions need to be contextualized rather than admired as timeless achievements.
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. A. L. Diamond, with whom he completed eleven scripts. Other long-time collaborators at Paramount and elsewhere include editor (and later producer) Doane Harrison, cinematographer John Seitz, art directors Hans Dreier and Alexander Trauner, composers Miklós Rósza, Franz Waxman, and Friedrich Hollaender, and costume designer Edith Head.
That is why the process of narration in his films is usually consonant with the norms of classical Hollywood cinema regarding plot development, character motivation, and closure. If there is, then, a certain trademark quality to Wilder’s films, it lies less in their innovative formal aspects—even though Double Indemnity or Sunset Boulevard certainly broke new ground in their use of voice-over—than in how 24 A Foreign Affair Wilder’s scripts and films are invariably marked by a sarcastic humor, a biting cynicism, and a clever wit.
A Foreign Affair: Billy Wilder's American Films by Gerd Gemünden