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->''"I'm a writer but then nobody's perfect."''
-->-- '''Billy Wilder's epitaph''', referencing ''Film/SomeLikeItHot''

Samuel "Billy" Wilder (June 22, 1906 March 27, 2002) was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer, regarded as one of the greatest and most versatile filmmakers of UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfHollywood.

He was born in Sucha, Galicia, now part of Poland, but at that time, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the early '30s, he worked as a screenwriter for German films under the name "Billie Wilder", but after [[UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler Hitler]] came to power, he emigrated to the United States, because of his Jewish ancestry. He continued his career as a screenwriter there, further changing his name to "Billy Wilder". He directed his first American movie, ''Film/TheMajorAndTheMinor,'' in 1942, and followed it with a string of critical and commercial hits until the '60s. Wilder equally excelled in dark, cynical [[FilmNoir noir]] dramas and satires or light [[RomanticComedy romantic comedies]]. He co-wrote all of his films, and won six UsefulNotes/{{Academy Award}}s, two for Best Director, three for Best Writing, and one for Best Picture.

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!Billy Wilder's More Important Films Include:

!!As writer only:
* ''Film/{{Midnight|1939}}'' (1939) -- A ScrewballComedy retelling of Cinderella, with Creator/ClaudetteColbert, Don Ameche, Creator/JohnBarrymore, and Mary Astor. Directed by Creator/MitchellLeisen.
* ''Film/{{Ninotchka}}'' (1939) -- Romantic comedy about a love affair between a Soviet diplomat (Creator/GretaGarbo) and a French aristocrat; one of the first American films to portray the Soviet Union. Directed by Creator/ErnstLubitsch.
* ''Film/BallOfFire'' (1941) -- Screwball comedy about a mobster's girlfriend hiding from the law with an ObliviousToLove English professor. Directed by Creator/HowardHawks.
* ''Film/HoldBackTheDawn'' (1941) -- Romance about a CitizenshipMarriage. Directed by Creator/MitchellLeisen.

!!As writer/director:
* ''Film/TheMajorAndTheMinor'' (1942) -- As noted, his directorial debut in America. Stars Creator/GingerRogers and Creator/RayMilland.
* ''Film/FiveGravesToCairo'' (1943) -- WWII spy thriller with a heavy dose of propaganda.
* ''Film/DoubleIndemnity'' (1944) -- The quintessential FilmNoir, starring Creator/FredMacMurray and Creator/BarbaraStanwyck. Co-written with Creator/RaymondChandler.
* ''Film/TheLostWeekend'' (1945) -- The first Hollywood movie that portrayed alcoholism dramatically, starring Creator/RayMilland. Won Best Picture.
* ''Film/AForeignAffair'' (1948) -- A RomanticComedy set in post-WWII Berlin, starring Creator/JeanArthur, and Creator/MarleneDietrich.
* ''Film/SunsetBoulevard'' (1950) -- A dark, cynical take on the film industry and fame, starring Creator/WilliamHolden and Gloria Swanson.
* ''Film/AceInTheHole'' (aka ''The Big Carnival'') (1951) -- A brutally cynical movie about journalism, starring Creator/KirkDouglas.
* ''Film/{{Stalag 17}}'' (1953) -- A comedy-drama about [=POW=]s in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, starring Creator/WilliamHolden.
* ''Film/{{Sabrina}}'' (1954) -- A light romantic comedy starring Creator/AudreyHepburn and Creator/HumphreyBogart.
* ''Film/TheSevenYearItch'' (1955) -- A romantic comedy with Creator/MarilynMonroe, source of the [[MarilynManeuver iconic image]].
* ''Film/WitnessForTheProsecution'' (1957) - A courtroom drama starring Creator/CharlesLaughton and Creator/MarleneDietrich, based on Creator/AgathaChristie's play, famous for its TwistEnding.
* ''Film/LoveInTheAfternoon'' (1957) -- A romantic comedy with Creator/AudreyHepburn and Creator/GaryCooper. Wilder's first of eleven collaborations with screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond.
* ''Film/SomeLikeItHot'' (1959) -- A classic comedy, again starring Creator/MarilynMonroe, with Creator/TonyCurtis and Creator/JackLemmon.
* ''Film/TheApartment'' (1960) -- A comedy-drama with Creator/JackLemmon and Creator/ShirleyMacLaine, about the then-scandalous subject of adultery. Won Best Picture.
* ''Film/OneTwoThree'' (1961) -- A comedy set in West Berlin, satirizing both communism and capitalism, starring Creator/JamesCagney.
* ''Film/TheFortuneCookie'' (1966) -- A legal satire with Creator/JackLemmon as a somewhat reluctant fraud and Creator/WalterMatthau (AA Best Supporting Actor) as his opportunistic lawyer.
* ''Film/ThePrivateLifeOfSherlockHolmes'' (1970) -- A combination AffectionateParody and {{deconstruction}} of the Franchise/SherlockHolmes character.
* ''Film/TheFrontPage'' (1974) -- TheRemake of the 1931 ScrewballComedy about newspaper reporters.
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!!Tropes associated with Billy Wilder's work include:
* DeadpanSnarker: Not only could he write these to perfection, he was one in real life.
* GenreRoulette: Billy could go from light, breezy comedy to cold, cynical drama in an instant.
* TheMentor: Creator/ErnstLubitsch was this to him, giving him his first jobs and Wilder had a sign in his office, "What Would Lubitsch Do?", for when he had writer's block. Later in life, he was this to many filmmakers, most notably Creator/CameronCrowe, who published a whole book of his conversations with Wilder.
* MoodWhiplash: Used primarily in his comedy-dramas.
* PlayingAgainstType: He had a knack for casting actors in roles different from usual and succeeding, with family-friendly Creator/FredMacMurray playing [[Film/DoubleIndemnity hard-boiled detectives]] and [[Film/TheApartment villians]], tough guy Creator/HumphreyBogart playing opposite Creator/AudreyHepburn in a [[{{Film/Sabrina}} romantic comedy]] and the often dramatic Creator/JamesCagney as the lead of [[Film/OneTwoThree a silly Cold War farce]].
* ProductionPosse: He had a regular stable of actors and crew members at his aid, including:
** Creator/JackLemmon (''Some Like it Hot'', ''The Apartment'', ''Irma la Douce,'' ''The Fortune Cookie'', ''The Front Page'', ''Buddy Buddy'')
** Creator/WalterMatthau (''The Fortune Cookie'', ''The Front Page'', ''Buddy Buddy'')
** Creator/MarilynMonroe (''The Seven Year Itch'', ''Some Like It Hot'')
** Creator/AudreyHepburn (''Sabrina'', ''Love in the Afternoon'')
** Creator/WilliamHolden (''Sunset Boulevard'', ''Stalag 17'', ''Sabrina'')
** Creator/MarleneDietrich (''A Foreign Affair'', ''Witness for the Prosecution'')
** Creator/FredMacMurray (''Double Indemnity'', ''The Apartment'')
** Creator/ShirleyMacLaine (''The Apartment'', ''Irma la Douce'')
** When it came to screenwriting, he went with Charles Brackett and I. A. L. Diamond, winning Oscars with both.
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: Usually a cold-hearted cynic, but definitely had some shades of optimism.
* ScrewballComedy: One of its later day saints.