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Conversations with Wilder, an invaluable, photo-intensive volume, is a kind of remake of Truffaut's must-read interview book Hitchcock, with Cameron Crowe in the inquisitive Truffaut role and wily 93-year-old Billy Wilder as the crafty master director. Drawing on his experience interviewing the monsters of rock and his deep, shot-by-shot knowledge of Wilder's work, Crowe gently and cunningly coaxes answers from Wilder--arguably today's most influential living director--on what made his hits tick and his flops suck, along with glimpses of what might have been. Did you know Mae West and Mary Pickford spurned Sunset Boulevard and Wilder spurned Marilyn Monroe for Irma la Douce? That The Apartment was inspired by Brief Encounter and the look of Double Indemnity was based on M? The gossipy insights are great too. Bogart spat when he talked, so Wilder couldn't back-light him in Sabrina, and Audrey Hepburn's wardrobe woman had to towel her off after each take--discreetly! Wilder loathed Raymond Chandler (partly because Chandler disdained James M. Cain when adapting Double Indemnity) but gives him his due as a screenwriter: Chandler could do dialogue and descriptions, but he couldn't construct a scene. "He was a mess, but he could write a beautiful sentence," says Wilder. Agatha Christie was the opposite: "She had structure, but she lacked poetry."
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.
"A world-class director interviews the Master, and every line is fascinating. As with Zen and the Art of Archery and other texts about mastery, the shock of pleasure in reading this enlightened and affectionate conversation is the utter simplicity that comes with true mastery. There is laughter too, as with anything first-rate in this form. Wilder and Crowe don't waste time on theory or generalities, and the result -- as in their film work -- is truth, pure and simple." -- Mike Nichols
"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.
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 1 month ago by Peter Lee
One of the great film books about one of the greatest directors of all time.Published 3 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 18 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 21 months ago 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 23 months ago 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