June 22: Billy Wilder
Filmmaker Billy (Samuel) Wilder, whose Some Like It Hot (1959) was named the all-time greatest American comedy film by the American Film Institute in 2000, was born in Austria-Hungary on this date in 1906. Wilder fled Nazi Germany for Paris and then Hollywood, where he established himself as a film director with Double Indemnity, which he co-wrote with Raymond Chandler. Other Wilder greats include The Lost Weekend, Sunset Boulevard, The Apartment, The Seven-Year Itch, Witness for the Prosecution and Stalag 17. Wilder’s films expanded the range of subject matter that Hollywood was willing to tackle (adultery, alcoholism, hedonism, the star system) and put an end to the Hays censorship code. Le Monde titled its front-page obituary for Wilder, who died at 95 in 2002, “Billy Wilder dies. Nobody’s perfect” — quoting the final line in Some Like It Hot. To see a scene from the film, click here.