ROOTS; From Humble Beginnings

By Jo Phillips

Chloe E. Williams

Did you know that Some Like it Hot, Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard are just three of the iconic films from master filmmaker Billy Wilder?  Growing from humble roots in Poland to a career as a renowned filmmaker during Hollywood’s Golden Age, Wilder had an undeniable influence on the industry.

With a career spread across five decades, Wilder made it through the deficiency that was the Great Depression, as well as the tension that surrounded both World Wars.  Born to a Jewish family in 1906, he began his screenwriting career in 1920s Berlin before relocating to Paris, and then Hollywood, after Hitler rose to power.

Wilder was nominated for 21 Academy Awards, making him both the second-most nominated director (with Martin Scorsese) and screenwriter.  In 1986, the American Film Institute awarded Wilder with the Life Achievement Award, and in 1993, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. He is heralded in the world of Hollywood censorship for his major role in expanding acceptable subject matters.

As a part of The Masters of Cinemas Series, Eureka Entertainment is releasing Wilder’s 1963 classic Irma la Douce on Blu-ray on March 18.

After Nestor is unjustly fired from his position as a cop, he falls in love with prostitute Irma and decides that disguising himself as British “Lord X,” Irma’s newest client, is the best way to keep her off the streets. Things get complicated when “Lord X” is thought to have been murdered.

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Check out some clips from three of Wilder’s other films, all of which you must see!

Forgotten silent film star Norma hires screenwriter Joe to rework her script, but their relationship quickly turns toxic. The film won three Oscars for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Screenplay and Best Music.

Double Indemnity (1944)

Insurance investigator Walter Neff’s involvement in a murder and insurance fraud is noticed by investigator Barton Keyes.  Some say that Double Indemnity was the first example of film noir.

Some Like it Hot (1959)

Joe and Jerry flee Chicago with an all-female band after witnessing a mob hit.  Some Like it Hot was ranked first in an international BBC survey of the best film comedies ever released.

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