Billy Wilder …Genius

Billy Wilder


June 22, 1906 ~ March 27, 2002

Billy Wilder

….on Audrey Hepburn

“She was so gracious and graceful that everybody  fell in love with her after five minutes. Everybody was in love with this girl, I included. My problem was that I am a guy who speaks in his sleep. I toss around and talk and talk…but fortunately, my wife’s first name is Audrey  as well. ”

…..on Marilyn Monroe, who he had a terribly difficult time directing,

“Whatever she threw away, we printed it, and it was very good.  It was very, very good.  She had a kind of elegant vulgarity about her.  That, I think, was very important.  And she automatically knew where the joke was.  She did not discuss it.  She came for the first rehearsal, and she was absolutely perfect.  She had a feeling for and a fear of the camera.  Fright.  She also loved the camera.  Whatever she did, wherever she stood, there was always that thing that comes through.  She was not even aware of it.”

…..on Jack Lemmon

“I’m terribly fond of Jack. We understand each other very well and it’s a pleasure to work with him. He is a thinking actor, but not an argumentative one. By that way I mean if we start shooting at nine o’clock, he would be there at 8:15 and would come to my office and say, “Hey, I’ve got a great idea! Look, why don’t we do this? Blah, blah, blah, blah.” And I just look at him, and he says, “I don’t like it either.” And he walks out.”

……on Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity

“Sure, that was a highly intelligent actress, Miss Stanwyck. I questioned the wig, but it was proper, because it was a phony wig. It was an obviously phony wig. And the anklet — the equipment of a woman, you know, that is married to this kind of man. They scream for murder.

Yeah, naturally we rehearsed this thing. But I rehearsed it with her once or twice, that’s the maximum, and it was not that much different from the way she would have done it. She was just an extraordinary woman. She took the script, loved it, right from the word go, didn’t have the agent come and say, “Look, she’s to play a murderess, she must get more money, because she’s never going to work again.”

With Stanwyck, I had absolutely no difficulties at all. And she knew the script, everybody‘s lines. You could wake her up in the middle of the night and she’d know the scene. Never a fault, never a mistake — just a wonderful brain she had”





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