Kings of Comedy

BILLY WILDER 1906-2002 His movies were joyfully sardonic and still sparkle like champagne

A jazz age thug carefully steps into a huge hollow cake; his job is to pop out later and gun down a big gangster. A henchman hands the thug a machine gun, then warns him, "And don't mess up the cake. I promised to bring back a piece for my kids."

The henchman is a minor character in a fleeting scene in Some Like It Hot, but Billy Wilder couldn't resist giving him a line with a nifty reverse spin on it. That was Wilder all over. He gave Hollywood's top stars their finest, fullest roles: Greta Garbo (Ninotchka), Barbara Stanwyck...

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