My buddy Tom Johnson and I got to meet Billy Wilder when we were in film school. He was donating a bunch of stuff to USC and Tom and I were picked to go meet him and haul the stuff he was donating back to USC. We went up to this old Post-Production place in Hollywood met the owner and waited for Billy Wilder.
The stuff this guy had piled up on their loading dock was mostly junk. There was Billy Wilder’s personal Moviola which was an old black model probably out of the early 1950’s with his initials painted on the side. Now that was cool. Like I said, I really don’t remember much else, some old beat up cases stuff like that.
Billy Wilder finally shows up driving this huge mid 1970’s Cadillac (I think it was an El Dorado). The thing was enormous and when Billy Wilder got out he was tiny. I still have that picture in my head. He introduces himself to us, like we didn’t know who he was. He was one of my favorite writer/directors of all time. I was dying to ask him a ton of questions about his films.
He takes a look at the stuff stacked up on the loading dock and asks the owner where the rest of it is. The guy says this is all. He and Billy get in to this shouting match and Wilder is screaming at him that he is ripping him off and where is all of the good stuff. This goes on for about 10 minutes.
All of the time Tom and I are dutifully loading the truck and trying to stay out of this argument. Finally the owner of the place throws up his hands and walks away.
Billy comes over to us and apologizes although he keeps calling this guy a thief and a crook. He tells us we look like nice kids. (I have a long pony tail and a bushy black beard, Tom has long flaming red hair and a big red beard, we look like thugs!) Anyway he gives us twenty dollars to have lunch on him and then he gets in to his whale of a Cadillac and drives off.
Tom and I never got to ask him a single question. But we met him.
This is a wonderful interview with Writer/Director Billy Wilder. Maybe you’ve heard of him? He did little films like, Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Sunset Blvd, Double Indemnity… Oh there are a lot more.
Check it out! And thank me later…