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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Sunset Boulevard’ meets Speedway


    Paramount Pictures

    From the late ’30s to the early ’60s, Billy Wilder ruled the silver screen. Claiming credit to nearly 60 films and six Academy Awards, he is recognized as one of Hollywood’s greatest successes. Over the course of his 50-plus year career, Wilder developed and honed his own incendiary arthouse style in the face of a commercialized Hollywood industry. The creator of nefarious noirs, ribald romances, cheery comedies and dysphoric dramas, Wilder’s works are often categorized as some of the movie industries’ most iconic classics.

    The superlative Austrian-American director, writer and producer will again make his way to the silver screen this March, as The Loft Cinema holds its retrospective film series in homage to the late, great Wilder. According to Jeff Yanc, program director at The Loft, a Wilder series has been in the works for some time now.

    “He’s been on our list for a long time,” Yanc said. “He was interesting for us in terms of doing a classics series. He was a commercially successful filmmaker in Hollywood in the ’40s and ’50s. However, he wasn’t classically commercial, as he had a real art sensibility. He had a really unique and interesting take on the Hollywood formula.”

    Airing one Wilder flick every Wednesday in March, The Loft will kick off its signature series with “Double Indemnity,” building a subsequent Wilder repertoire following with “The Apartment,” “Ace in the Hole” and “Sunset Boulevard.”

    “Because Wilder has so many huge films, we tried to pick some of the most iconic and best-known ones, but we also tried to avoid showing ones we’ve already shown,” Yanc said. “I think if you’ve never seen a Billy Wilder movie and you come to see any of these, you’ll be struck with how modern they feel. And even though all the movies we’re showing were made in the ’40s through the early ’60s, they all have a really contemporary feel about them.”

    Immigrating to Hollywood in the mid-1930s, Wilder entered the film scene a Jewish immigrant with little understanding of the English language. However, this was not enough to keep Wilder from launching an enormously successful Hollywood career writing, directing and producing studio hit after studio hit. According to Peggy Johnson, executive director of The Loft, moviegoers would be remiss to overlook the Wilder film series.

    “I think if people come to see these films, they will be very grateful to us,” Johnson said. “We want people coming and experiencing classic Billy Wilder — patrons and newcomers alike. They’re all such good films. And it’s one thing to see them at home on DVD, it’s a completely different experience to see them on the big screen. I hope people take advantage of it.”

    The series, titled The Films of Billy Wilder, will premiere at 7 p.m. on March 4.

    “People are excited,” Johnson said. “This is a great way for people who have never experienced Wilder to experience him. We’re expecting this to be a really popular series. Billy Wilder is ageless, and there’s nothing like seeing the classics on the big screen.”


    Follow Elise McClain on Twitter.

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