Posts Tagged ‘billy wilder’

Love in the Afternoon

Monday, July 11th, 2016

Love in the Afternoon

Tagline – It’s more likely in Paris and more LOVELY IN THE AFTERNOON!

Starring – Gary Cooper (Frank Flannagan), Audrey Hepburn (Ariane Chavasse), Maurice Chevalier (Claude Chavasse), John McGiver (Monsieur X).

Released – June, 1957

Directed By – Billy Wilder

Produced By – Billy Wilder Productions

Distributed By – Allied Artists Pictures

Description – In Paris, detective Claude Chavasse has been hired by the husband of a married woman suspected of carrying on an affair with American playboy Frank Flannagan. Sure enough, she had been seeing the American almost on a daily basis. Her husband’s anger boils over and he tells the detective he will kill Flannagan.

Overhearing the conversation is the detective’s daughter Ariane. Unable to get help from the police until an actual crime has been committed, Ariane finds Frank to tell him herself. She is just in the nick of time. As the irate husband breaks into Frank’s room he finds the playboy with Ariane and not his wife who has just slipped out the window.

Flannagan is intrigued by the young woman who has warned him, but does not even know her name. She is also intrigued by the older playboy and decides to make herself appealing to him by playing the role of a “femme fatale.”

Flannagan’s interest is aroused and the two meet the next day and spend the night together before he boards a plane to leave Paris. She has now fallen in love with the older man.

A year later, Frank returns to Paris and the two meet again by chance at an opera and resume their affair. She continues with the experienced woman charade and Frank is not sure if he believes her or not.

Later Frank encounters the previously outraged husband who had burst into his room intent on killing him. They speak in a friendly fashion and Frank tells him about the mysterious Ariane. The husband suggests that Frank have her investigated and suggests detective Claude Chavasse.

It isn’t long before Chavasse realizes the mysterious woman is his own daughter. The age difference frightens him and he asks Frank to no longer see Ariane and to not break her heart. However, Frank has also fallen in love and, although he understands, doing this will not be easy.

A May – December romance has much going against it to begin with and Frank makes an excuse to again leave Paris. Is his the right decision, or is true love not measured by age?

NOTABLE: Initially, Love in the Afternoon was both a critical and commercial disaster. The general feeling was that Gary Cooper was too old and in ill health to have taken the role. In fact, Cary Grant had turned down the role due to his own age. However, as time passed the film’s popularity grew due to pure romanticism.

Audrey Hepburn made this film back-to-back with Funny Face.

Love in the Afternoon provided the screen debut for John McGiver.

Filming locations in Paris included the Château of Vitry in the Yvelines, the Palais Garnier (Paris Opera), and the Hôtel Ritz Paris.

Marilyn Monroe Giving Tom Ewell The Seven Year Itch

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

June, 1955The Seven Year Itch, released by 20th Century Fox and directed by Billy Wilder, brings biting and sarcastic humor to the subject of sex. Tom Ewell is perfect as husband Richard Sherman who finds himself with a little “bachelor” time on his hands and a very beautiful new upstairs neighbor.

Curvaceous Marilyn Monroe plays Ewell’s fantasy inspiring neighbor with the strange habit of storing her underwear in the fridge during the hot summer months. Monroe’s character in the film is only referred to as “The Girl,” and although a character without a name, Monroe is unforgettable in a role where her screen presence is described by Wilder as having “flesh impact.”

The filming of  The Seven Year Itch managed to raise a few eyebrows with the Hays Office, as the sexual nature of the motion picture required re-writing quite a number of scenes which were considered by the office to be “indecent.”

This intervention prompted both director Billy Wilder and screenwriter George Axelrod to complain that the film was being made under “straightjacketed” conditions.

In spite of the changes, The Seven Year Itch is capable of not only inspiring a few Walter Mittyish fantasy thoughts, but also a great deal of laughter.

The Seven Year Itch

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

The Seven Year Itch [Blu-ray]

Tagline – It TICKLES and TANTALIZES! – The funniest comedy since laughter began!

Starring – Marilyn Monroe (The Girl), Tom Ewell (Richard Sherman), Evelyn Keyes (Helen Sherman), Sonny Tufts (Tom MacKenzie).

Released – June, 1955

Directed By – Billy Wilder

Produced By – Charles K. Feldman Group, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Distributed By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Description – Richard Sherman’s wife and son have gone to Maine in order to escape the summer heat of Manhattan. Richard has the apartment to himself and is enjoying his temporary lifestyle freedom, but he has made up his mind not to carouse and do anything he would regret.

After all, Richard is a prime candidate for what psychologists refer to as the “Seven Year Itch,” a reference to declining interest in a monogamous relationship after seven years of marriage.

That is until the apartment upstairs is rented to a model who is in town to do a commercial for a toothpaste. That evening, while proofing a book written by a psychologist regarding the fact that many men have the temptation for an extra-marital affair after seven years of marriage, Richard’s imagination begins to run wild regarding the beautiful women upstairs.

When she accidentally knocks a plant off of her deck down onto his, she apologizes and he invites her down for a drink. She accepts and tells him she will be right down after she gets dressed. This includes putting on her underwear that she keeps in the refrigerator to help with the hot weather.

The mental picture of this sets Richard off on a number of overactive, over-vivid fantasy’s of the delightful, voluptuous woman upstairs. As the pair grow friendlier over the next few days, Richard begins to doubt his restraint and seeks out Dr. Brubaker, the author of the book he is proofing, for help.

But, it may be too little too late as Richard seems ready to succumb to the “Seven Year Itch.”

NOTABLE: The Seven Year Itch contains one of the most iconic film images of the 20th Century with Marilyn Monroe standing on a subway grate with her dress being blown up above her knees.

The short 9 month marriage of Marilyn Monroe to Joe DiMaggio ended during filming.

Marilyn Monroe’s bouts with depression and self-destruction, frequent tardiness, and behavioral problems, caused considerable difficulty during filming with some scenes taking up to forty takes.

Actor Walter Matthau had tested for the part of Richard Sherman and was approved by director Billy Wilder. However, 20th Century Fox was unwilling to try the then newcomer and gave the role to Tom Ewell who had played the part on stage.

The film premiered on Marilyn Monroe’s 29th birthday.

The poster for The Seven Year Itch was ranked #22 on “The 25 Best Movie Posters Ever” list by Premiere Magazine.



The Lost Weekend – A Study of Alcoholism

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

November 16, 1945 The Lost Weekend presents us with an uncompromising depiction of alcoholism based on Charles Jackson’s novel and directed by Billy Wilder.

Ray Milland, in a role out of character for him, brilliantly portrays failed alcoholic writer Don Birnam. Trapped in a self-destructive romance with the bottle, Birnam has no where to go but down. Jane Wyman co-stars as Birnam’s fiancee Helen St. James who refuses to admit to herself that their relationship is doomed.

The excellent supporting cast includes Howard da Silva as Nat a world-weary bartender who is reluctant to continue feeding Birnam’s habit, but always relents to his customer’s excessive desire, and Frank Faylen as “Bim” Nolan a sadistic nurse in the alcoholic ward of Bellevue Hospital.

To prepare for the lead role Ray Milland spent a couple of nights in an alcoholic ward and the brief, but disturbing impressions clearly showed in his strong performance, especially in a scene where character Don Birnam suffers from hallucinogenic delirium.

Be sure to see The Lost Weekend for a movie viewing experience that you will never forget.

The Lost Weekend

Friday, May 13th, 2011

The Lost Weekend

Tagline – The screen dares to open the strange and savage pages of a shocking bestseller!

Starring – Ray Milland (Don Birnam), Jane Wyman (Helen St. James), Phillip Terry (Wick Birnam), Howard Da Silva (Nat), Doris Dowling (Gloria).

Released – November, 1945

Directed By – Billy Wilder

Produced By – Paramount Pictures

Distributed By – Paramount Pictures

Description – New York writer, and long-time alcoholic, Don Birnam is believed to have been sober for ten days and seems to be on the right path. Don and his brother Wick are packing for a weekend in the country when Wick finds a bottle of rye whiskey that Don had hoped to sneak on the trip.

Wick disposes of the whiskey and Don apologizes. Don’s girlfriend, Helen St. James, arrives at the apartment with the trio planning to attend the symphony. Don suggests that Wick and Helen go without him as he needs to rest.

Though more than a little suspicious, Wick and Helen leave for the symphony. As soon as they do, Don takes the money Wick had left for the maid, buys two bottles of whiskey, and heads for Nat’s bar and just “one little jigger of dreams.”

Thus begins a four-day bender that starts with Don missing the train for the weekend get away. The story continues through a series of flashbacks that begin with how Don and Helen first met and the progression of their relationship as it became more serious.

The following weeks, after their meeting, Don had started to get a grip on his drinking, but the anxiety of meeting Helen’s parents resulted in Don turning back to the bottle. Helen maintains her resolve to help him in spite of Don suggesting that she may be better off leaving him.

Lying, stealing, and a willingness to do just about anything to keep drinking lead to the many failures, heartaches, and problems in Don’s life, and the lives of those that care about him, have all been caused by the bottle.

This four-day bender will result in the end of Don’s personal hell…one way or another.

NOTABLE: The Lost Weekend won four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director (Billy Wilder), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Ray Milland), and Best Writing, Screenplay. The film also received nominations for Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.

The first film to use the “wailing” sound produced by a musical instrument called a “theremin.” The sound was used in the films nightmare sequences and later was popular in many science fiction films.

Director Billy Wilder stated that the liquor industry had offered Paramount Pictures $5 million dollars not to release the film. He also stated that had the offer been made to him, the film would not have been released.

Ray Milland was initially reluctant to take the part, and had been advised that doing so would kill his career. As it turned out, quite the opposite was true.

The Lost Weekend marked the first time that a film crew was allowed to film inside Bellview Hospital.

In 1944, while traveling from New York to Hollywood, during a stopover in Chicago, Billy Wilder picked up something to read. It was Charles R. Jackson’s novel “The Lost Weekend.” After reading the novel, Wilder was convinced that this would be his next film project.

Personal Note: A story that is never outdated. This is a gripping and potent portrayal of alcoholism and its destructive effects. An unrelenting landmark in adult filmmaking.