Creator / Billy Wilder

"I'm a writer but then nobody's perfect."
Billy Wilder's epitaph, referencing Some Like It Hot

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 The Golden Age of Hollywood.

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 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, The Major and the Minor, in 1942, and followed it with a string of critical and commercial hits until the '60s. Wilder equally excelled in dark, cynical noir dramas and satires or light romantic comedies. He co-wrote all of his films, and won six Academy Awards, two for Best Director, three for Best Writing, and one for Best Picture.

Billy Wilder's More Important Films Include:

As writer only:

As writer/director:

Tropes associated with Billy Wilder's work include:

  • Deadpan Snarker: Not only could he write these to perfection, he was one in real life.
  • Genre Roulette: Billy could go from light, breezy comedy to cold, cynical drama in an instant.
  • The Mentor: Ernst Lubitsch 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 Cameron Crowe, who published a whole book of his conversations with Wilder.
  • Mood Whiplash: Used primarily in his comedy-dramas.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Usually a cold-hearted cynic, but definitely had some shades of optimism.
  • Screwball Comedy: One of its later day saints.