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campaign image Sweet & Sour: The Films of Billy Wilder (still from The Seven Year Itch (Billy Wilder, US 1955))
still from The Seven Year Itch (Billy Wilder, US 1955)

Films, talks & events

Sweet & Sour: The Films of Billy Wilder

5 July — 5 September 2018

still from Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, US 1944)
still from Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, US 1944)

From 5 July through 5 September 2018, Eye presents a comprehensive programme on Wilder’s films, most of them comedies with a dark edge.

The legendary screenwriter and Hollywood director Billy Wilder was a brilliant word artist. His Oscar-winning classics are brimming with irresistible and cynical humour: incredibly funny, bold and incisive.

still from Ninotchka (Billy Wilder, US 1939)
still from Ninotchka (Billy Wilder, US 1939)
still from The Lost Weekend (Billy Wilder, US 1945)
still from The Lost Weekend (Billy Wilder, US 1945)

‘I’m a writer, but then nobody’s perfect’. Billy Wilder’s epitaph references one of the most famous one-liners in film history. Funny into death, Billy Wilder was one of Hollywood’s greatest filmmakers of the twentieth century, though he preferred to regard himself foremost as a writer. In his films, he combined sprightly humour and a cynical view of life like no other. I.A.L. Diamond, one of Wilder’s regular co-scriptwriters, once described his films as a mix of ‘sweet and sour’.

Wilder won Oscars for The Lost Weekend (1945), Sunset Boulevard and The Apartment (1960). He also made stars of Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and his alter ego Jack Lemmon.

still from The Apartment (Billy Wilder, US 1960)
still from The Apartment (Billy Wilder, US 1960)

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campaign image Sweet & Sour: The Films of Billy Wilder
still from Witness for the Prosecution (Billy Wilder, US 1957)
still from Witness for the Prosecution (Billy Wilder, US 1957)

“...crackling dialogues and one-liners. Another one of Wilder's strong point. Because his films are told with such speed, full of schwung, they still feel very modern...”

Trouw

still from Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, US 1950)
still from Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, US 1950)

Taking a swipe at Hollywood

Billy Wilder persistently tested the limits of censorship in his films and never shied away from controversy. Double Indemnity (1944) was the first film to tell the story from the perspective of a murderer. Wilder took a swipe at Hollywood in Sunset Boulevard and got away with cross-dressing in Some Like It Hot. In Ace in the Hole (1951) he pilloried the yellow press.

Unparalleled

Billy Wilder (1906–2002) grew up as a Jewish kid in Vienna and went to Berlin as a young and budding journalist. There he also made his first forays into film. When Hitler seized power in 1993 he took refuge in the United States, where he found work in Hollywood writing screenplays for filmmakers like Ernst Lubitsch and Howard Hawks. From 1942 he became a director himself, though he also continued to write the scripts for his films, something unparalleled in Hollywood. Among his co-screenwriters were Charles Brackett (fourteen films) and I.A.L. Diamond (twelve films). In addition to his unrivalled sense of humour, Wilder introduced a European sensibility that would change Hollywood forever.

still from Menschen am Sontag (Robert Siodmak & Edgar Ulmer, DE 1929)
still from Menschen am Sontag (Robert Siodmak & Edgar Ulmer, DE 1929)

“...a born storyteller... Billy Wilder left behind a unique cinematic world...”

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