French film director Annie Tresgot brings an intimate portrait of Billy Wilder as one of the greatest directors of all time. It depicts his eventful life, told by himself in his own surroundings. He is intelligently interviewed by Michel Ciment in 1980 (film critic from Positif) when Wilder was about 74 years old. The big interview starts at his cluttered Santa Monica Boulevard office, where he keeps his six Oscars and a certificate for winning the top prize at Cannes Film Festival for his movie THE LOST WEEKEND (1945). Later they drive to his primary residence, where he shows us his valuable art collection, which includes works by Picasso, Chagall, Kandinsky and others. Finally, they close the interview at Wilder’s beachfront cottage in Malibu.
Wilder talks briefly about his youth in Vienna, the excitement of living in Berlin during the Weimar era and his one year in France during the II. World War. But the biggest part of this interview is concerned with his Hollywood times. Wilder was great raconteur and he has a lot of fascinating things to say about his amazing movies and about the famous film stars he worked with, including Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, William Holden, Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe.
Billy Wilder's acerbic wit and indomitable talent shine through in this documentary and he shows us here that his life is not just about movies. This is Wilder on Wilder, who came to the U.S. to escape Nazi persecution and eventually, to find his own expression in the growing film industry.