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Conversations with Wilder Paperback – Bargain Price, September 14, 2001
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Some critics scoff at Crowe (who cried while directing emotional scenes in Jerry Maguire) for taking on the cynic Wilder. But they're brothers under the skin. Both leaped from popular music journalism to directing. Both incorporate actual events in their films. Wilder keenly regrets not filming this scene in The Spirit of St. Louis, which he claims really happened: the night before his historic flight, Lindbergh's handlers talked a pretty waitress into having sex with him. They claimed he was a virgin, and likely to die on his voyage. In the hero's parade upon his return, she waves at him through the ticker-tape, but he doesn't see her. "Would have been a good scene," mourns Wilder. Without this book, we'd never have known about it. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"It's always best to hear straight from the director about his own work. This book of interviews is just that: rich in information and autobiographical detail, filled with wonderful anecdotes and observations, often irreverent and hilarious, and sometimes surprisingly moving. Cameron Crowe's book is like Wilder's best films: sharply observed, absolutely succinct and precise, funny but always with a very strong, serious foundation. Billy Wilder is one of the few genuine masters we have left, from a period in film history that is now gone. Which makes Conversations with Wilder all the more precious and valuable." -- Martin Scorsese --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
More than that, "Conversations" mines deep into the bowels of Wilder's mind and pulls out gem after gem, great stories of an era in Hollywood that has long since passed. Just to hear (read) Wilder speak of Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, etc... and to get intimate details of Wilder's relationship with these luminaries, his thoughts and anecdotes about working with them, makes "Conversations With Wilder" well worth the trip. Crowe also manages to humanize Wilder, bringing out the charm, intelligence and of course the great Wilder wit, still very much alive at age 93.
As much as I enjoyed the interview portions (a great majority of the book) I equally enjoyed Crowe's interludes, describing Wilder with great insight, and weaving many humorous anecdotes himself about the great Wilder and Crowe's journey in writing the book.
This book is a must read not only for Wilder junkies, film fans, and anyone who has an interest in a time that has come and gone in American cinema, but is an entertaining read for the neophyte as well (like me). Highly recommended!
To be clear, this book is not like the Hitchcock/Truffaut book of interviews it is oft compared to. In that book, Truffaut went through each and every film with Hitch. That book is as much about how the movies were made as about the man who made them. "Conversations With Wilder" is just that. It's transcribed interviews and conversations, where the topic can run from the last line of "The Apartment" to how Wilder escaped from Nazi-era Germany.
Fans of classic movies should not be without this book. Even if you've never seen a Wilder film in your life (and if you haven't, then you're missing out on the movies which shaped modern filmmaking), this book is filled with on-set pictures, stories about stars ranging the gamut from William Holden to Claudette Colbert, and, best of all, interplay between the old guard and the new guard. Crowe handles the conversations deftly, and keeps them from dropping down to the level of a sycophantic fan.
Simply, this is one of the best portraits of a director ever put to paper. And if you've never seen classics like 'The Apartment' or 'Some Like It Hot' or 'Ace in the Hole,' after reading this you won't be able to stop yourself from clearing the shelves of Billy Wilder films. Celebrate genius, buy this book.
Firstly, many of the photographs are horribly transferred stills from the movies, which were taken from video, not film. The pixelization is sometimes so horrible as to wipe out almost half of the information. As there are many more photos done by this makeshift method (most of the others are publicity stills or of Wilder, Hollywood movie stars, etc, not from the actual movies), it would seem to me that the publisher (not some dinky independent, but Alfred A. Knopf, major player over here) could have gone the extra mile and made some high-quality stills from the studios' answer prints. Since they didn't, however, this volume appears "rushed to market."
Second, Crowe's organization is horrible: Unlike Hitch/Truffaut, it sort of meanders from movie to movie and then back again. It's organized chronologically (by interview session, not movie), and often goes back over movies already discussed, because Crowe forgot some question or another. Also, Crowe doesn't go much into the bit players and character actors at all. I mean, HOW COULD HE GO AN ENTIRE VOLUME ON BILLY WILDER WITHOUT EVER MENTIONING SIG RUMAN (who was to Wilder as Leo G. Carroll was to Hitch) or Cliff Osmond?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Anyone aspires to be a writer/director or is a fan of Billy Wilder will find this a treasure, for art, history and instruction! Enjoyed it immensely. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Peter Lee
One of the great film books about one of the greatest directors of all time.Published 9 months ago by Kenneth Trammell
Not as amusing as I would have liked, he's known for his humor. But very interesting and work-savvy and revelatory.Published 23 months ago by Hank
For fans of Billy Wilder's movies and of his shrewd and witty take on life in and out of movies, this book is indispensable.Published on December 6, 2013 by Stephen J. Whitfield
While this book is very much one for film fans, the key to its success is that Wilder plays along with the interviews and at times clearly enjoys the conversations with a much... Read morePublished on September 15, 2013 by Bill Kay
I had to have this book because of my over-the-top enjoyment of the movie Some Like It Hot, which Wilder directed. Read morePublished on June 6, 2013 by Cindy Stephens
This is a great book. Go to page 357 and see Mr. Wilder's tips for writers.
As a filmmaker it has been such a joy to read Mr. Crowe's CONVERSATIONS WITH WILDER. Read more
Though less clear than Truffaut's book on Hitchcock (mainly because of Wilder's lack of interest in explaining himself) 'Conversations with Wilder' does echo that landmark book. Read morePublished on January 9, 2007 by Martin Koolhoven