What did Some Like It Hot look like the first time you saw it edited together?
BILLY WILDER: Any first cut of the picture makes you feel suicidal. It’s just the worst moment of your life. Every picture, you say, “Oh my God.” Because you’ve worked, you’ve slaved, this is a year and a half of your life, and then you look and there it is, an hour and fifty-five minutes, and you say, “Is that all there is? For that, a year and a half? My God.” But then you start cutting, and a little music comes in and then you kind of polish it, and it’s just like night and day. And it’s all worth it. When you preview a picture that really works, you feel that you’ve got the audience by the throat. It’s not very often. That’s why I say when you’ve got them by the throat, don’t let go. Just squeeze harder and get them in the gut and stamp on them because they are such bastards. They fight you; they come in and say, “I don’t want to like it. I hope that son of a bitch falls on his face.” And you don’t want to let them go because you suddenly sense “I’ve got them,” whether it’s a dramatic scene or the laughter has started. Once you get them into a mood of “Hey, this is funny,” then you can say anything.
Gloria Swanson and Billy Wilder on-set of Sunset Blvd (1950)
Billy Wilder on the set of ‘Sabrina’, photographed by Dennis Stock, 1954.
The stars are ageless, aren’t they?
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.”
Ginger Rogers rides a bike.