Billy Wilder


Billy Wilder (born Samuel Wilder; June 22, 1906 – March 27, 2002) was an Austrian-born American film director and screenwriter whose career spanned more than five decades. He is regarded as one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of the Hollywood Golden Age of cinema. With his 1960 film, The Apartment, Wilder became the first person to win Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay for the same film (others including Francis Ford Coppola,

Wilder became a screenwriter in the late 1920s while living in Berlin. After the rise of the Nazi Party, he left for Paris, where he made his directorial debut. He moved to Hollywood in 1933, and in 1939 he had a hit when he co-wrote the screenplay for the romantic comedy Ninotchka, starring Greta Garbo. He made his American directorial debut with the Major and the Minor (1942), starring Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland. He established his directorial reputation with an adaption of James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity (1944), a film noir starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson. Wilder co-wrote the screenplay with crime novelist Raymond Chandler. Wilder earned the Best Director and Best Screenplay Academy Awards for the adaptation of a Charles R. Jackson story, The Lost Weekend (1945), starring Milland and Jane Wyman. His other notable films of this period include The Emperor Waltz (1948), with Bing Crosby and Joan Fontaine; a Foreign Affair (1948), with Jean Arthur, Marlene Dietrich, and John Lund; Sunset Boulevard (1950), with William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, and Nancy Olsen, along with a cameo by legendary filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille; Ace in the Hole (1951), with Kirk Douglas; and Stalag 17 (1953), with Holden, Don Taylor, Robert Strauss, Harvey Lembeck, Peter Graves, Neville Brand, Richard Erdman, Sig Ruman, and acclaimed filmmaker Otto Preminger.

From the mid-1950s on, Wilder made mostly comedies. Among the films Wilder made in this period Sabrina (1954), with Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and Holden; The Seven Year Itch (1955), with Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell; The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), with James Stewart; Love in the Afternoon (1957), with Gary Cooper and Hepburn; Witness to the Prosecution (1957), with Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton, and Elsa Lanchester; Some Like It Hot (1959), with Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon (in the first of many collaborations); The Apartment (1960), starring Lemmon and Shirley MacLane; One, Two, Three (1961), with screen legend James Cagney; Kiss Me, Stupid (1964), with Dean Martin, Kim Novak, and Ray Walston; and The Fortune Cookie (1966), which marked the first of many on-screen collaborations between Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. He directed fourteen different actors in Oscar-nominated performances. Wilder was recognized with the American Film Institute (AFI) Life Achievement Award in 1986. In 1988, Wilder was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. In 1993, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*originally seen in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)


  • Mauvaise Graine (1934) – co-directed with Alexander Esway – aka Bad Seed- France
  • The Major and the Minor (1942)
  • Five Graves to Cairo (1943)
  • Double Indemnity (1944)
  • The Lost Weekend (1945)
  • Death Mills (1945) – documentary short
  • The Emperor Waltz (1948)
  • A Foreign Affair (1948)
  • Sunset Boulevard (1950)**
  • Ace in the Hole (1951)
  • Stalag 17 (1953)
  • Sabrina (1954)**
  • The Seven Year Itch (1955)
  • The Spirit of St. Louis (1957)
  • Love in the Afternoon (1957)
  • Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
  • Some Like It Hot (1959)**
  • The Apartment (1960)
  • One, Two, Three (1961)
  • Irma la Douce (1963)
  • Kiss Me, Stupid (1964)
  • The Fortune Cookie (1966)
  • The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)
  • Avanti! (1972)
  • The Front Page (1974)
  • Fedora (1978)
  • Buddy Buddy (1981)


  • The Daredevil Reporter (1929) – directed by Ernst Laemmle
  • People on Sunday (1930) – directed by Robert Siodmak & Edgar G. Ulmer
  • A Student’s Song of Heidelberg (1931) – directed by Karl Hartl
  • The Man in Search of His Murderer (1931) – directed by Robert Siodmak
  • Her Grace Commands (1931) – directed by Hanns Schwarz
  • The Wrong Husband (1931) – directed by Johannes Guter
  • Princess, At Your Orders! (1931) – directed by Hanns Schwartz & Max de Vaucorbeil – French language version of Her Grace Commands, filmed with a different cast at the same time
  • Emil and the Detectives (1931) – directed by Gerhard Lamprecht
  • Un peu d’amour (1932) – directed by Hans Steinhoff –
  • Happy Ever After (1932) – directed by Paul Martin
  • The Victor (1932) – directed by Hans Hinrich & Paul Martin
  • Once there Was a Waltz (1932) – directed by Victor Janson
  • Where Is This Lady? (1932) – directed by Victor Hanbury & Ladislao Vajda
  • A Blonde Dream (1932) – directed by Paul Martin
  • Un rêve blond (1932) – directed by André Daven & Paul Marin – French language version of Happy Ever After, filmed with a different cast at the same time
  • Scampolo (1932) – directed by Hans Steinhoff
  • The Blue of Heaven (1932) – directed by Victor Janson
  • Madame Wants no Children (1933) – directed by Hans Steinhoff
  • Madame ne veut d’efants (1933)
  • What Women Dream (1933) – directed by Géza von Bolváry
  • Adorable (1933) – directed by William Dieterle
  • One Exciting Adventure (1934) – directed by Ernst L. Frank
  • Music in the Air (1934) – directed by
  • Joe May
  • Under Pressure (1935) – directed by Raoul Walsh – uncredited dialogue
  • Lottery Lover (1935) – directed by Wilhelm Thiele
  • Champagne Waltz (1937) – directed by A. Edward Sutherland
  • Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938) – directed by Ernst Lubitsch
  • Midnight (1939) – directed by Mitchell Leisen
  • What a Life (1939) – directed by Theodore Reed
  • Ninotchka (1939) – directed by Ernst Lubitsch
  • Rhythm on the River (1940) – directed by Victor Schertzinger
  • Arise, My Love (1940) – directed by Mitchell Leisen
  • Hold Back the Dawn (1941) – directed by Mitchell Leisen
  • Ball of Fire (1941) – directed by Howard Hawks
  • A Song is Born (1948) – directed by Howard Hawks