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Conversations with Wilder

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  899 ratings  ·  48 reviews
In Conversations with Wilder, Hollywood's legendary and famously elusive director Billy Wilder agrees for the first time to talk extensively about his life and work.

Here, in an extraordinary book with more than 650 black-and-white photographs -- including film posters, stills, grabs, and never-before-seen pictures from Wilder's own collection -- the ninety-three-year-old
Paperback, 400 pages
Published September 25th 2001 by Knopf (first published 1999)
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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 ·  899 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Dec 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
To compare this book to Hitchcock/Truffaut or Bogdanovich interviewing Welles is absurd. Wilder is intermittently interesting, but Cameron Crowe is an insuffurable jackass more fascinated in showing how much Wilder likes him than in actually asking any good questions.

Mostly this is a book of gossip about movie stars. It feels like a third of the book is spent talking about Marilyn Monroe. The biggest problem is that Wilder doesn't have an interest in analyzing his films. He warms up to Crowe
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a marvelous book. Crowe was the perfect person to do this book, as he has years of experience as a journalist and as a writer/director of film. He was able to ask some tough questions of Wilder as a journalist, but also had huge insights into the realities of both writing and directing films that no journalist would ever have. I felt like I was sitting right there in the room with the two of them. I found the snippets of Billy's wife Audrey, who was sometimes nearby, wonderful as well.
Jul 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Tuesdays with Billy. This book is a casually fascinating glimpse of two filmmakers in dialogue, with the younger visiting the retired elder to study and celebrate his life and work. Cameron Crowe was contemplating an autobiographical film at the time of these interviews, which became Almost Famous. And Billy Wilder was retired, with afternoon physical therapy sessions to keep the blood flowing followed by evening martinis. Crowe revisits every Wilder film to capture the thoughts of its ...more
Bryce Wilson
Jun 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: film
This book isn't perfect, Wilder comes off as something of an asshole sometimes when he decides to talk shit about the likes of Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Fred McMurray, and Steven Spielberg (Of course if every asshole could create something like The Apartment which is possibly the loveliest movie ever made I'd find assholes in general alot more tolerable). And Crowe misses some real opportunities by missing some juicy questions (Come on did you really think Wilder wouldn't have a good Klaus ...more
Jack Cheng
Wonderful conversation with a great filmmaker. Took a while to read because I kept putting the book down so I could watch some of the films (some for the first time, some for the nth). This is the man behind The Apartment, Double Indemnity, Witness for the Prosecution, Stalag 17, Sunset Blvd., Some Like It Hot and more. I think Sabrina is his worst film I've seen and others consider that a classic; if his worst is a classic, the others must be pretty good. Nice to have Crowe as the interviewer ...more
Michael Mayer
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
William Holden, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Sunset Boulevard,Some Like it Hot, Double Indemnity... you know you love them all. Why not spend a couple evenings in the company of Billy Wilder and Cameron Crowe listening to great conversations about old Hollywood. Heavily illustrated with photos of the tinseltowns greatest stars, this book will have you updating your "must see" movies list and lingering on the TMC channel just a little longer...
Garrett Cash
May 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wilder is one of my top ten favorite directors, and this book essentially let me spent the afternoon in his company, hearing his opinions on more things than I would have ever thought to ask myself. The structure of the book is not perfect, and some serious editing should have been done on some descriptive passages and repetitions from Wilder. Nonetheless, if you're a fan of great cinema and writing/directing technique from a master, then this book comes highly recommended.
J. Bryce
This is one of the best books I've ever read about filmmaking and filmmakers. It's so obvious Cameron Crowe -- writer and director of Almost Famous, Say Anything, and many more -- loves and respects Billy Wilder -- that comes through throughout this collection of interviews.

If you want a great book about early Hollywood and the writers and directors who did the best work, pick this book up.
May 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Riveting and insightful look at a great journalist/filmmaker talking to his mentor and peeling back the layers if one of the masters of cinema.
Jul 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My all-time favorite film director in lively, penetrating, often very funny conversations with Cameron Crowe. What's not to love?
Larry Sampson
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am a big Billy Wilder fan. I was watching One Two Three, which is one of my favorite films. While watching I was googling information about the making of the film and found some quotes from this 1998 book by Cameron Crowe. I found several used copies available from I bought one for $8.00 The book was originally over $30 and is a big book filled with photos. I am so glad I bought it. It felt like spending a long weekend talking with Billy Wilder. He shared so many stories and ...more
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
The joys of this interview book come from Wilder. I can't help but compare Crowe's interviewing style to Peter Bogdanovich, who is leaps and bounds smarter and more insightful in his questioning. Crowe certainly knows Wilder's work and biography, but he is so fawning in his questions, that it brings the book down when compared to Bogdanovich's interview books with John Ford, Orson Welles, or Fritz Lange. However, maybe a little fawning was needed to draw Wilder out? Bit in another case, Wilder ...more
Morgan McGuire
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
As with its model, Truffaut/Hitchcock, but much diminished here: in this interview transcript, Wilder is a fascinating but difficult subject, Crowe is an ass, and a few gems of wisdom about making pictures drop along the way. It is worth reading, although it would have made a better pamphlet of just Wilder's reviews of films and few comments on directing.
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Tborn June 22, 1906 in Vienna, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After years as a reporterhighlighted by a single day during which he interviewed Richard Straus, Arthur Schnitzler, Alfred Adler, and Sigmund Freud
A folk music album for persian writer Sadeq chubak

Emmanuel Oberg
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Billy Wilder's life and work
Recommended to Emmanuel by: Can't remember
Fascinating exploration of Wilders work through a series of interviews with the filmmaker.

Quoted in Screenwriting Unchained: Reclaim Your Creative Freedom and Master Story Structure at the end of the detailed analysis of the broken compact sequence in The Apartment, to illustrate the difference between unconscious mastery and conscious knowledge of storytelling tools like planting and pay-off or dramatic irony.
William Leben
Jul 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Billy Wilder wrote and directed some great movies, and in this book, filmmaker Caneron Crowe interviews him at great length to reveal the art behind the master's films by going through them one by one.

But the real joy of the book is that the hours of pronouncements by the great Wilder, who seems very honest--blunt may be a better word--as he goes beyond the films themselves to describe his experiences with actors and studio heads over the years.

Wilder comes across as a fascinating talker and a
Oct 08, 2009 added it
You can hear all the same old man stories that Billy Wilder tells fellow German filmmaker in the documentary "Billy Wilder Speaks" or you can spend the time hearing the same stories while simulatenously learning that Cameron Crowe is sort of a pathetic turd with low self esteem and a creative inferiority complex. But something happens in the second half of this interview book that is amazing. Wilder really starts to open up and a warm and funny personality and perspective starts to pour out and ...more
Sep 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
I'm a big fan of Wilder movies such as Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, and Sabrina, and this book provided a window into the director's philosophy of moviemaking. It was an easy, fun, and enlightening read.
John Kennedy
Some interesting insights, but the book is too repetitive and too long. Crowe could have used an editor in chopping down Wilder's responses. The book is lavishly illustrated with photos from Wilder's movies.
Linda Appelbaum
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Nice addition to my HOllywood books.
Aug 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
A wonderful interview by one of my favorite current directors and a legend of the past. If you love 50s movies, this is worth reading.
Guy Cranswick
Sep 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Persistence gave us this book as Wilder was reluctant to do it. Excellent in very department: quality of the interviews and the total production.
Andres Sivori
Jun 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The most insightful book on a filmmaker's life and his approach to working as a writer/director next to TRUFFAUT/HITCHCOCK.
Oct 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: film
I'm no fan of Cameron Crowe--his heavy-handed sentimental streak is on display here, too--but when the interviewee is Billy Wilder, what difference does it make?
Alexandra Robbins
The hat story is key here
Jun 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Crowe has tried to emulate Wilder for years, sometimes to absolutely painful effect. But this book is fun for any film geek who worships the masters.
Jul 16, 2009 added it
Probably my favorite film book.
Alexandria Bianca
Cameron Crowe felt a little boring in the beginning. It was interesting to see his encounters with Wilder & how they influenced him. Awesome photos ;)
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Among other things, this has some great lessons and rules of thumb for writers -- and not just screenwriters.
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Cameron Bruce Crowe is an Academy Award winning American writer and film director. Before moving into the film industry, Crowe was contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine, for which he still frequently writes.

Crowe has made his mark with character-driven, personal films that have been generally hailed as refreshingly original and void of cynicism. Michael Walker in the New York Times called

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