Reporting Eric Henderson
Billy Wilder, one of the most beloved crust-buckets in Hollywood history, has so many acerbic hits to his name that two local theaters are splitting the bill to present Wilder’s highlights during August.
The Heights and Trylon Microcinema are presenting a series called “Nobody’s Perfect,” a moniker some may dispute given the evidence on display (all presented in glorious, analog, 35mm format).
His skepticism is in full fettle among the nine films included in the series, but weirdly enough, time has melted down the steel that once held court in Wilder’s chest cavity. Dare I say, most of these movies seem today sort of … mushy? Maybe not.
Here are some of the August series highlights.
The Apartment (1960)
(Heights Theatre; July 31, 7:30 p.m.) “Shut up and deal.” One of Billy Wilder’s biggest hits and his Academy Award coronation (the movie won best picture, perhaps helped out by the fact that Psycho was summarily snubbed) stars Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine getting sweet and sour over each other while bossman Fred MacMurray performs a little character assassination on his My Three Sons rep.
Double Indemnity (1944)
(Heights Theatre; August 14, 7:30 p.m.) “That’s a honey of an anklet you’ve got there.” Did I say MacMurray destroyed his My Three Sons rep? Well, actually you could argue it was Sons that tarnished his Double Indemnity rep, playing a suave but over-his-head insurance salesman who falls for the wrongest platinum blonde in movie history. Edward G. Robinson turns the scenery into toothpicks with his ulcer-driven sleuthing.
Some Like It Hot (1959)
(Heights Theatre; August 21, 7:30 p.m.) “Most of the time I slap it.” Some Like It Hot took the “man vs. woman” schematic and switched up the teams with a dose of cross-dressing. The result is one of your grandparents’ favorite movies in which the idea of gay marriage is entertained at surprising length. Jack Lemmon earned the Oscar nod for nattering about as “Daphne,” but Tony Curtis is every bit as hysterical as the gingersnappy “Josephine.” And, of course, Marilyn Monroe has arguably never been sexier.
Ace In The Hole (1951)
(Trylon Microcinema; August 26 & 27, 7 & 9:15 p.m.; August 28, 4:45 & 7 p.m.) “Good news is no news.” One of Wilder’s darkest scripts this side of The Lost Weekend (not included in this series) puts a big fish hotshot newspaper reporter in the small pond. Naturally, he turns up a scoop in nothing flat when he stumbles upon a man stuck in a mine and, with a flourish that might make News of the World‘s news bureau scoff, orchestrates a prolonged rescue effort in order to give his story time to play.
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
(Heights Theatre; July 31, 7:30 p.m.) “There’s nothing tragic about being 50, not unless you’re trying to be 25.” What All About Eve did for the grand dames of the Great White Way in 1950, Sunset Boulevard did for Hollywood’s aging first wave of silent stars. Gloria Swanson got the role of a lifetime as Norma Desmond, the gothically deluded has-been with bats in the belfry of her crumbling, tiled manse. Wilder’s pen was dripping with venom here, and composer Franz Waxman’s score turns the picture into a veritable rattlesnake.
Click here to see the full schedule of Billy Wilder movies at Trylon.