Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton in Billy Wilder's adaptation of the Agatha Christie play

‘Witness for the Prosecution’ with Charles Laughton and Marlene Dietrich on Amazon Prime Video

Based on the stage play by Agatha Christie, Witness for the Prosecution (1957) isn’t opened up for the screen so much as it is perked up with witty dialogue and wily characterizations, two strengths of filmmaker Billy Wilder and writing and producing partner I.A.L. Diamond. Charles Laughton plays the legendary barrister who defies doctor’s order […]

‘People on Sunday’ on Amazon Prime Video

People on Sunday (Germany, 1920) is a delightful, effervescent rarity from the late silent era with irresistible bona fides. Not only did this low-budget 1930 German film influence a generation of filmmakers, it launched the careers of some mighty impressive talents who, as hungry young filmmakers, collaborated on this buoyant little portrait of a lazy […]

Colin Blakely is Sherlock Holmes in the film by Billy Wilder

‘The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) is one of the loveliest of Billy Wilder’s pictures, a sly, bittersweet, autumnal film that approaches the Holmes legacy with a sense of humor and a sense of respect. Robert Stephenson plays Holmes as a genial, witty fellow well aware of his reputation and quite a bit more […]

Kirk Douglas stars in Billy's Wilder's noir-tinged newspaper drama from 1951

‘Ace in the Hole’ – newspaper noir on VOD and Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

Billy Wilder is the American cinema’s most famous cynic, but nothing in his career is as scathing as his noir-tinged newspaper drama Ace in the Hole (1951), his indictment of the American media circus. There’s not a more amoral hero in Wilder’s filmography than Kirk Douglas’s Chuck Tatum, an arrogant big city newsman stuck in […]

TITLE: SUNSET BOULEVARD • PERS: VON STROHEIM, ERICH / SWANSON, GLORIA • YEAR: 1950 • DIR: WILDER, BILLY • REF: SUN025AL • CREDIT: [ THE KOBAL COLLECTION / PARAMOUNT ]

‘Sunset Boulevard’ on Kanopy

“I am big! It’s the pictures that got small!” Sunset Boulevard (1950), the blackest of Hollywood’s self-portraits, is an old dark house of a ghost story inhabited by the living shadows of its discarded stars. Gloria Swanson is magnificent as Norma Desmond, the former silent movie queen living in her memories while plotting a fantasy […]