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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars to Ed Sikov
This bio is very well-written and reads like a novel, as other reviews agree, and I would add that it is even better than most novels. Often one wonders whether a story in the book has really occurred and that helps to develop the fiction aspect of the book. At first I thought that a bio with more than 600 pages would be boring, but it turned out to be very engaging...
Published on November 25, 1999 by Kosmos

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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Book from a Sensible biographer
I attended one of Mr Sikov's lectures in a New York City bookstore where The Lost Weekend(1946) was screened. I was impressed by his knowledge of Billy Wilder, although the lecture was oriented into another way. I am a fan of Wilder's movies myself, and this is a rich book written by someone really prepared for it.
Published on December 1, 1999 by E. Barteldes


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars to Ed Sikov, November 25, 1999
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This review is from: On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder (Hardcover)
This bio is very well-written and reads like a novel, as other reviews agree, and I would add that it is even better than most novels. Often one wonders whether a story in the book has really occurred and that helps to develop the fiction aspect of the book. At first I thought that a bio with more than 600 pages would be boring, but it turned out to be very engaging and informative about the golden age of Hollywood and one of the smartest and sophisticated directors ever. Although this bio has so much infomation, the author has such a fluid writing style and such a story-telling ability that makes it very interesting and entertaining. While reading this book my attention span never sagged and it made me keep reading for a longer period at a time. English being my third language, I really appreciated Mr. Sikov's wide range of vocabulary and slang that seemed to fit perfectly into his varied style of sentence construction.
I agree with Mr. Sikov that screenplay writing is a vital part of a consumate and well rounded director, which other celebrated directors, such as Hitchcock, Ford, and Spielberg lacked. For this reason I consider that the two best directors of all times are Billy Wilder and Akira Kurosawa, who besides being great visual and cinematic artists, they had more input and control of their movies by also writing the scripts. Billy Wilder's use of cynicism, sarcasm and curse words in his movies, when allowed, and in his life never came across as vulgar and lewd, but rather as an effective and witty punch line or criticism about the human condition.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book on the Late & Great BILLY WILDER, April 1, 2002
Last week marked the passing of a true Hollywood heavyweight, a man who excelled as a writer, director, and producer, who left his mark in just about every film genre, except the Western - the one and only Billy Wilder.
Wilder's death at the age of 95 will no doubt bring renewed interest in his long and varied career. It is an irony that would have brought a wry smile to Wilder, and undoubtedly one of his biting remarks. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a comprehensive study of the life and art of Billy Wilder, you should look no further than Ed Sikov's brilliant "On Sunset Boulevard."
Sure, if you're looking for an extended interview with Billy Wilder himself, there's that other book ... but like the more famous, or rather infamous Hitchcock/Truffaut sessions that inspired it ... it can only be one sided.
Ed Sikov doesn't merely tell you to take Billy Wilder at his word. He conducted original interviews with scores of Wilder's colleagues and friends, dug through production archives, scripts, notes, and film footage to assemble not only a fascinating study of a filmmaking genius, but the conclusive portrait of the man behind that genius.
Sikov's analyses of Wilder's films are fresh and exciting, and his prose leaps off the page. You know instantly that Sikov knows his stuff, and that it's a subject close to his heart.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best biography I've ever read., January 29, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder (Hardcover)
I discovered this biography after seeing a rave review in the New York Times Book Review, and I must say it was entirely justified. I've always loved Wilder's movies, but this book gave me new insights into how the films were made and the man who made them. I liked the snappy style, and the biographical stuff reads like a psychological thriller. But the best part is how the behind-the-scenes details enhance my experience of movies that I thought I knew well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the best film biography ever written, February 9, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder (Hardcover)
Billy Wilder is one of my favorite filmmakers, creator of three masterpieces: "Sunset Boulevard," "Double Indemnity" and "Some Like It Hot." Sikov does a remarkable job of giving us the life and mind of the man. Show people rival Southerners in their refusal to let the trivia of facts get in the way of a good story, and Wilder was a storyteller among storytellers. Most film bios are hopelessly gullible, but Sikov uses the interviews that Wilder gave throughout his career--the man would say virtually anything--to give us his full flavor, always careful to show where the facts and stories diverge, but without spoiling our pleasure in those stories. The result is the best film biography I've yet read, well-versed in the business, politics and psychology of filmmaking. And because the subject is Wilder, it is also one of the funniest books I've come across in a long, long time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best film-industry bio ever., November 30, 1999
By A Customer
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This review is from: On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder (Hardcover)
Billy Wilder is one of my favorite directors, but his films almost don't compare to his colorful life, and the author has captured Wilder's character in all its Technicolor glory. Wilder is a great storyteller on the screen, but he's been equally adept at spinning yarns about his life. Sikov separates fact from fiction in an entertaining read that does nothing to diminish Wilder's stature and puts the director's legendary wit out there for all to enjoy.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great reading about a remarkable character and his work, January 15, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder (Hardcover)
A large book tracking Wilder from Vienna to Hollywood through most of the century. When I finished I wished there were more of it it read so well - though there probably wasn't much more to write about. A good thing about unauthorized biographies is that one has to dig and dig to come up with the material rather than kind of ghost someone's memoirs. And like all good biographies this encompasses a lot more than Wilder - Hollywood at its grandiest and gaudiest. I never cared much for his movies and, after reading the book, of him but he's a fasinating subject and Sikov does a terrific job. I gave it 4 stars because 5 star biographies always seem to blend into fiction.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-Written Hollywood Bio, September 1, 1999
This review is from: On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder (Hardcover)
Sikov chronicles the life of Billy Wilder quite well. I especially like his chapter per film approach. There is an awful lot of behind the scenes stuff from even the more obscure movies. I couldn't believe how much was written about the Emporer Waltz and Fedora. If you like Wilder, give it a read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, but Nobody's Perfect, October 8, 2002
By 
Michael Samerdyke (Big Stone Gap, VA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a very good biography of Billy Wilder. It revealed a lot about him and his career I didn't know. I disagreed with Sikov on his evaluations of a few films (I like "Love in the Afternoon" much better than he, but Sikov really seems to hate Gary Cooper) but we agreed on a lot. (Heck, we even liked the same scenes in "Fedora.")
I gave the book five stars, but I have a few reservations. My problems came when Sikov went beyond Wilder's career -- or didn't. His descriptions of politics in Interwar Europe struck me as okay, but superficial. Okay, this book will be nobody's first choice to learn about such matters, but a little more polish here would have helped. Then, toward the end of the book, Sikov keeps mentioning that Wilder was out of step with Hollywood. However, there is really nothing about what the rest of Hollywood was doing, namely how Wilder stacked up against Mel Brooks or Woody Allen in this era. I would have liked to have seen that issue addressed.
However, as a "life" of Wilder and not a study of his "times", this is a great book. Fans of Wilder's films will greatly enjoy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Bio of a Hollywood Great, July 17, 2007
By 
Bookish One (Silicon Valley) - See all my reviews
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Superb. Exhaustive and well-written. This book provides a view into one of the greats. I had seen a number of Billy Wilder movies before reading the book, but now I have much more appreciation of the man and his accomplishments. After finishing this biography, I have resolved to watch as many of his movies as I can.

If you want to learn about how one individual can go from a rural outpost of a decaying empire to a preeminent position in the center of the world's image maker, read this book. A compelling story of a compelling life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On Sunset Boulevard...ESSENTIAL!!, February 16, 2012
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This review is from: On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder (Hardcover)
This book is a .."MUST" for a fan of Billy Wilder, or the movie "Sunset Boulevard". It is the perfect compliment to either. Well worth the time to read, and an informative line to the idea, and making of the movie.
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On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder
On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder by Ed Sikov (Hardcover - November 23, 1998)
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