Legendary film director Billy Wilder spoke no English when he arrived in America but was a fast learner. Wilder proved to be one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of Hollywood's Golden Age. From the late 1930s through the early 1960s, Wilder dominated the American film industry with over 50 movies and six Academy Awards to his credit. Oak Park Public Library celebrates this master movie-maker with a free film series that kicks off with Double Indemnity (1944) on Monday, February 6 at 1:30 pm at the Main Library, 834 Lake Street. The series, sponsored by the Friends of the Oak Park Public Library, continues on Mondays at 1:30 pm through March 12, 2012. Film historian Doug Deucher will lead discussions following each screening.
Billy Wilder pictures were known for their tight plotting, their humorous treatment of controversial subjects, and their memorable, biting dialogue. Wilder broke into films as a screenwriter in Germany, thriving until Adolf Hitler came to power. He then fled the Third Reich, heading to Hollywood. His parents and grandparents all perished in Auschwitz. “Few directors made so many movies that were as taut, savvy, and well-received as Billy Wilder,” notes Deucher.
The Billy Wilder film series schedule:
February 6: Double Indemnity (1944) 107 minutes. Two evil lovers (Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray) plot the murder of the woman's husband to make off with his insurance money.
February 13: The Lost Weekend (1945) 101 minutes. The desperate life of a chronic alcoholic writer (Ray Milland), trying to get his life under control during a 4-day drinking bout.
February 20: Sunset Boulevard (1950) 110 minutes. A hack screenwriter (William Holden) is hired to write a screenplay for a former silent film star who has faded into obscurity and possible madness.
February 27: Stalag 17 (1953) 120 minutes. When two escaping American World War II prisoners of war are killed, the German POW camp barracks black marketer (William Holden) is suspected of being an informer.
March 5: Some Like It Hot (1959) 122 minutes. When two musicians (Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis) witness a mob hit in 1929, they flee Chicago in an all-girl band disguised as women. Marilyn Monroe is one of the band members.
March 12: The Apartment (1960) 125 minutes. An office worker (Jack Lemmon) tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications, and a romance of his own with Shirley MacLaine, ensue. In addition to the Best Picture Oscar, Wilder also took home awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay (co-written with I.A.L. Diamond).
Film historian and Oak Park resident Doug Deucher is an author, theatre critic, and retired teacher/librarian. Doug has written five books for Arcadia publishers: Oak Park in Vintage Postcards, Maywood, Berwyn, Cicero, and Brookfield Zoo. He has had five plays produced in the late 1980s and 1990s and is hoping to finish a new one this winter.
Find more free events happening at the Oak Park Public Library at oppl.org/events/calendar .