The Cynic of Sunset Boulevard
Here's an American success story: an Austrian Jew arrives in the U.S. in 1934 knowing barely a word of English, and within a year he is writing screenplays in Hollywood. No wonder Billy Wilder's scintillatingly cynical heroes figured they could get away with murder, cross-dressing or "the girl"; they were reflections of their brilliantly duplicitous writer-director. And though his voice was caustically distinct, Wilder triumphed in a wide variety of genres. He made the sauciest farce (Some Like It Hot), the darkest film noir (Double Indemnity), the dearest romantic comedy (Sabrina) in Hollywood history as well as the tartest evocation of Hollywood history (Sunset Blvd.). His films were utterly contemporary (One Two Three, his 1961 cold war satire, was shot in Berlin just before the Wall went up), yet have stayed as fresh and winning as an Audrey Hepburn smile.
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