An audience is never wrong. An individual member of it may be an imbecile, but a thousand imbeciles together in the dark - that is critical genius.
Happy Birthday Billy Wilder!
Gloria Swanson and Billy Wilder on the set of Sunset Boulevard (1950)
- The audience is fickle.
- Grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go.
- Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
- Know where you’re going.
- The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
- If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.
- A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.
- In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re seeing.
- The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
- The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then—that’s it. Don’t hang around.
Tony Curtis has said that he asked Billy Wilder if he could imitate Cary Grant for his stint as the millionaire in the movie. Wilder liked it and they shot it that way. Apparently, Grant saw the parody of himself and stated, “I don’t talk like that.”
Shirley Maclaine & Jack Lemmon in Irma la Douce (1963), directed by Billy Wilder
Shirley MacLaine in Billy Wilder’s The Apartment (1960)