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Billy Wilder Speaks


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Product Details

  • Actors: Jean Arthur, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Gary Cooper, Tony Curtis
  • Directors: Gisela Grischow, Volker Schlöndorff
  • Writers: Volker Schlöndorff
  • Producers: Volker Schlöndorff, Bret Wood, Eberhard Junkersdorf, Tom Brown
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English, German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: October 17, 2006
  • Run Time: 71 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000HKDEL0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,783 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Billy Wilder Speaks" on IMDb

Special Features

  • 70 minutes of additional interview footage and on-camera commentary by Volker Schlondorff
  • Gallery of Billy Wilder trailers
  • Billy Wilder filmography
  • Essay by Volker Schlondorff

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Illustrated with film clips, rare photographs and artwork, Billy Wilder Speaks is a lively lesson in filmmaking, from one of its undisputed masters. In a series of filmed interviews conducted by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Volker Schl+Ýndorff (The Tin Drum), acclaimed writer/director Wilder (Sunset Blvd., Some Like It Hot) recounts the achievements and pitfalls of his 60-year career. As one might expect from the maker of The Apartment, Double Indemnity and Sabrina, Wilder peppers his conversations with hilarious anecdotes, keen insights into the craft of moviemaking and frank advice about the art of survival in Hollywood

Amazon.com

Was Billy Wilder Hollywood's greatest raconteur? There are many who answer in the affirmative, and Wilder was renowned for being one of the wittiest men of his era. Many of his choice anecdotes are on display in Billy Wilder Speaks, a freewheeling session originally filmed for German television. Volker Schlondorff, an accomplished filmmaker himself, sat down with Wilder in the latter's Hollywood office for a series of (seemingly offhand) interviews, during which the two pros switch from English to German with fluid ease. Wilder tells of the famous actors he worked with and befriended, such as Marlene Dietrich, William Holden, and Jack Lemmon, and he touches on the enigma that was Marilyn Monroe, with whom he worked in The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot. The stories will be familiar to longtime Wilder fans, although Schlondorff does well in drawing Wilder out about his experiences for the U.S. military during and after World War II, when Wilder was involved in obtaining footage of the concentration camps. He also tells a scathing story about his bitter reaction when a studio executive suggested changing the nationality of a villainous character in Stalag 17 from German to Polish, in order to make the film more palatable in the profitable market of early-1950s Germany.

The documentary itself is 71 minutes, but there's another 70 minutes of footage, with Schlondorff introducing various clips. Oddly enough, the effect of all this is lightweight rather than substantive; this is more like an after-dinner chat than an in-depth seminar. Newcomers to Wilder's personality will probably enjoy it, while Wilder fans may be disappointed. An extensive collection of trailers for Wilder movies is included. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By calvinnme HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 10, 2009
Format: DVD
The maker of this documentary and director Billy Wilder originally intended what was filmed here to just be a dry run of what would be the later actual interview portion of a documentary on Wilder's career. The two sit down in Wilder's crowded office and Wilder just starts talking about the various aspects of his long career. The one stipulation that Wilder made was that this footage not be released in his lifetime. Wilder and the interviewer go back and forth between German and English - depending upon what language best expresses the points they wish to make - with helpful subtitles for those of us who speak English when either speaks German.

Wilder says some things that don't surprise me - for example that Jack Lemmon was the definition of a professional. Wilder would not have used him so much and Lemmon would not have been such a great performer had that not been the case. However, Wilder's insights into Marilyn Monroe were new to me. He said while making "Some Like it Hot" that sometimes they would spend all day trying to get one take in which Marilyn had just one line, to the point where he wanted to pin the line to the wall so she could just read it. Other days she would come in and have pages of dialogue memorized. He also had some interesting things to say about making films on the Holocaust immediately after the war and the impact they had on German audiences at the time.

At any rate, this dry run turned out to be so good that it became the actual interview. I highly recommend it to people who are interested in Billy Wilder's career, since it is almost entirely Billy Wilder talking about the projects he worked on, his philosophies of filmmaking, and the people with which he worked. It's a fascinating documentary.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Marina C. Watteck on September 15, 2006
Format: DVD
I have seen this documentary by director Volker Schlöndorff several years ago on Austrian Television and was very impressed by this nearly four hour long intimate interview with Billy Wilder. It is an absolut must for all Wilder afficionados. He is interviewed by the director and famous German literary critic Hellmuth Karasek. Absolutley wonderful!!!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Pacheco Jr. on May 19, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It's a priviledge to watch a master speak. The option to keep the filming simple as closeups with movie clips is a little too simple. Also the decision to provide Enlgish subtitles only to the german spoken segments is confusing.
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Format: DVD
Nobody wrote or directed movies like Billy Wilder-Double Indemnity, Stalag 17, Some Like it Hot, The Apartment-just to name a few. I have loved his films since I was a child but I knew virtually nothing about him until I saw this one hour documentary. The documentary lives up to its title. Except for a brief introduction and some brief dialogue with the director, this is Billy Wilder explaining the magic of his movies and his philosophy about film making. He is above all pragmatic; none of the artsy-fartsy school of cinematography for him! He knew how to tell a story and to translate it to film. One caveat to those of you who do not like subtitles: a large part of the interview is Billy speaking in German with subtitles. I never knew it but he was born and raised in Austria and lived for years in Berlin. He didn't come to the US until right before WWII. The maker of the documentary is German so a large part of the interview is in German. So if you absolutely hate subtitles, you probably won't enjoy this interview that much. But if tolerate them, even just barely, I strongly recommend this movie. It is a gem. And if you love his movies, you will be so richly rewarded by watching it!
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Format: DVD
Billy Wilder Speaks (Volker Schlöndorff and Gisela Grischow, 2006)

How can you possibly pass up a documentary about Billy Wilder, especially when he's telling stories? The man spent fifty years working in the German and American film industries, with the most powerful people in film. This could have been ten times as long and I doubt Wilder would have scratched the tip of the reservoir of anecdotes he's stored up. (Of course, as Wilder died in 2002, there is no more for him to say.) But man, if you're going to make a documentary of this stature, shouldn't you find yourself a documentary filmmaker? I weep to imagine what Errol Morris would have done with this footage. Volker Schlöndorff, best known in this country for the butchery job that was the film adaptation of The Tin Drum, spent two weeks talking with Wilder. And that's the key here; the director was talking. I prefer the Morris style, where the "interviewer" just sits there and let the subject hang him- or herself. With Wilder, who knows what stories would have come out? While we get some great material (Wilder's Marilyn Monroe anecdote? Classic!), there could have been so much more. And now we'll never know. ** ½
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Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
Billy is the master, everyone quotes him but this video lets you hear it from the horses mouth. The documentary filmmaker did a great job of letting Billy speak his mind, but also prompted him with questions his fans want answers to most. Great buy only on Amazon Video.
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