Watch 'Billy Wilder: The Human Comedy' for an In-Depth Look at the Career of the Iconic Director

Billy-Wilder-600x255The director of 14 Oscar-winning performances, Billy Wilder is one of American cinema's national treasures. The Austrian-born American filmmaker proved that he had the chops to be a great filmmaker with the classic film noir Double Indemnity. He earned the Oscar for Best Director and Best Screenplay in 1945 for the classic The Lost Weekendas harrowing a film about alcoholism as has ever been made, though it's his screwball comedies for which he's most remembered. A documentary about the man, his life, and his sterling career has recently been made available online, so hit the jump to learn everything you'd ever want to know about one of Hollywood's greatest talents.

Wilder is perhaps most remembered for his classic '50s comedies The Apartment, Some Like It Hotand The Seven Year Itch with Marilyn Monroe, but he could also turn on a dime, co-writing and directing Sunset Boulevard, a dark and cynical dramatic classic. His films are remembered for their tight directorial style, focusing on dialogue over cinematography (He believed shots that called attention to themselves took away from the story).

PBS' series American Masters aired the documentary Billy Wilder: The Human Comedy in 1998, and it's required viewing for any fan of Wilder or student of film. It features narration from Walter Matthau, clips from Widler's films, and interviews with a who's who of classic Hollywood.

The film is broken up into 4 parts, all of which you can view below.

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What is your favorite Billy Wilder film? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Link: Watch: 55-Minute Billy Wilder Documentary 'The Human Comedy' -- The Film Stage

[via Filmmaker IQ]

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Your Comment


I haven't seen them all, but The Apartment

July 3, 2013 at 2:49PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Micah Van Hove

Of his most underrated was "The Major and the Minor" with Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland. Of course, there's scarcely a better film noir than "Double Indemnity" or "Sunset Boulevard". Nor are there too many comedies superior to "Some Like it Hot" or rom-coms than the "Apartment" or "Sabrina". Then throw a few heavy drama like the "Lost Weekend" and "Stalag 17" on top and you've arguably got the writer/director with the greatest range in the history of Hollywood. (though, Woody Allen's more dramatic works like "Husbands and Wives" and "Crimes and Misdemeanors" balance his earlier comedies too)

July 3, 2013 at 4:06PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


The Apartment, Irma La douce, Ace in the Hole, Sunset Blvd, the private life of sherlock holmes, I´m always re-watching those movies. Can´t decide which is the best for me. All fresh and new, even with it being 40 to 70yrs old!

July 3, 2013 at 4:51PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

You voted '-1'.
guto novo

My best friend and acting teacher, Cliff Osmond, was discovered by Billy Wilder. He first appeared in Irma La Douce and did three other films with Mr. Wilder (Kiss Me, Stupid; The Fortune Cookie; Front Page). Cliff didn't talk much about his past (he preferred to work on the future of his students), but when Billy Wilder came up in conversation, Cliff got a twinkle in his eye. He told me many times that Billy Wilder taught him the business, very generously allowing him to sit on the process -- even when Cliff's work in front of a camera was finished.

July 4, 2013 at 2:58PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


He was very talented. I especially enjoyed his portrayal of Willy Wonka.

July 5, 2013 at 5:32AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


So much brilliant work by Billy Wilder, but Sunset Blvd is perfect, as is every word spoken in Double Indemnity. What is often overlooked, however, is the astonishing physical comedy performed so deftly by Curtis and Lemon in Some Like It Hot. Next time you watch it, behold the scene with Curtis rising from a bubble bath fully clothed and kicking a gift box across the hall to Marilyn — all in one mastershot. Just try to imagine pullng that off on your own set.

July 5, 2013 at 9:56AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


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July 5, 2013 at 4:11PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Interesting that he says he doesn't like shots that called attention to themselves because they take away from the story... when one of my favorite films of his is Sunset Boulevard... opening with a very attention-grabbing "underwater" shot, shooting upward to the floating body of the protagonist. (I put quotation-marks since I have read afterwards that they couldn't go underwater with the camera, so they just put a mirror on the pool floor and shot it with the camera on dry land)

Now, of course. Moving cameras for movings sake, as Matthew Vaughn dryly called it, is just distracting. But by that neither of them don't shy away from the stylish shots either. And I wholeheartedly agree that shots should serve distract from story. But if you can make the story better with a stylish shot, go for it! Or maybe "stylish" is a bad word for this... but I'm sure you get what I'm saying...

July 7, 2013 at 2:11AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Thanks a lot for the article . Its really healpful . Will stay tune for more :) .

July 31, 2013 at 3:46AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM