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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Why the writer should be considered the "hero" of a film, any film

An excerpt from a fascinating, penetrating, and rib-tickling interview with Billy Wilder ("The Art of Screenwriting", by James Linville, 1996):

BILLY WILDER AND HIS SIX OSCARS.

THE INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH
Billy Wilder, one of American cinema's premiere writer-directors, has always maintained that movies are "authored", and has always felt that much of a film's direction ideally should take place in the writing. Like many of the medium's great filmmakers, Wilder began his career as a writer, yet he is unique in the extent of his involvement in the development of the material he has directed. Indeed, he has cowritten all twenty-four of his films.

THE BIG QUESTION
The interviewer: Film really is considered a director's medium, isn't it?

THE EXPLOSIVE ANSWER
Billy Wilder: Film's thought of as a director's medium because the director creates the end product that appears on the screen. It's that stupid auteur theory again, that the director is the author of the film. But what does the director shoot — the telephone book?

And that's only the first three lines from Wilder's response, which is a few hundred words long. The interview itself takes all of 23 pages in a brilliant compilation, The Paris Review Interviews: Vol. 1. Each of the 16 interviews with creative geniuses ranging from Truman Capote and Ernest Hemingway to Billy Wilder and Robert Gottlieb is worth the price of the book. Buy it now.
  • Here are just a few of the 24 films Billy Wilder has directed (and co-written): The Front PageSome Like It Hot; Sunset Boulevard; Double Indemnity; The Apartment. I have ordered the first two from Amazon the DVDs should be arriving tomorrow, so that takes care of my weekend viewing.