Alfred Hitchcock sent this letter to Billy Wilder, praising him on his film The Apartment
Billy Wilder wins three Oscars for The Apartment at the 33rd Academy Awards, 1961.
Shirley MacLaine and Billy Wilder on the set of The Apartment, 1960. Photographed by John Hamilton.
“Ah the opportunities that come your way in the motion picture business - and this is only a rehearsal. Shirley MacLaine is an elevator operator. I am demonstrating what one of the passengers does to her in passing. She is overacting a little.” - Billy Wilder in LIFE May 30, 1960.
Gloria Swanson and director Billy Wilder on the set of ‘Sunset Boulevard’, 1950.
A luncheon hosted by George Cukor in his Hollywood mansion in honor of Luis Buñuel. From left to right, back row: Robert Mulligan, William Wyler, George Cukor, Robert Wise, Jean-Claude Carriere and Serge Silverman. In the front row, from left to right are: Billy Wilder, George Stevens, Luis Bunuel, Alfred Hitchcock, and Rouben Mamoulian.
Marlene Dietrich and Billy Wilder on the set of A Foreign Affair (1948).
10 Screenwriting tips by Billy Wilder
- The audience is fickle.
- Grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go.
- Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
- Know where you’re going.
- The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
- If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.
- A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.
- In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re seeing.
- The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
- The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then—that’s it. Don’t hang around.