The films of Billy Wilder were the subject of a day-long seminar at Hillsdale College in Michigan last week, as reported in the Hillsdale Daily News.
“The final seminar focused on the life and legacy of Director Billy Wilder, 1906-2002. Addressing a gathering of students and community guests were editor Anthony Slide; film producer and author Alain Silver; author Daniel M. Kimmel; film critic Leonard Maltin; and faculty members Daniel B. Coupland, James M. Brandon, Justin A. Jackson and Paul Moreno.
Speaking on another aspect of Wilder’s genius on March 20 was Daniel M. Kimmel, film critic and author of I’ll Have What She’s Having: Behind the Scenes of the Great Romantic Comedies. Kimmel spoke on the comedies of Wilder, especially the hit film Some Like It Hot.
Kimmel said that, while this comedy was certainly one of Wilder’s best films, Wilder’s greatest achievement was the variety of his works: ‘What is fascinating about Wilder to me is that he excelled at both comedy and drama,’ said Kimmel. ‘One will find instances of his sardonic humor in all of his films.’
Kimmel noted how disguise, a major theme in many Wilder themes, is particularly used in Some Like It Hot as a tool for character development. ‘Both Jerry and Joe get to explore other aspects of their personalities, indeed the opposite of who they ordinarily are by donning drag,’ Kimmel said. ‘When they finally revert to their male identities at the end of the film, they are different people as a result.'”