What’s Your Favorite Movie Directed by Billy Wilder?

Adept at both comedy and drama–and at mixing the two–Academy Award-winning writer/director Billy Wilder gave us some of Hollywood’s greatest movies. Vote for your top Wilder film in this week’s poll.

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  • Mom

    Some choices are really too difficult to make…this was one of the hardest. So many great movies in that list almost has one talking to oneself…and answering!

  • Mom

    Some choices are just to difficult to make…this was one of the hardest. So many wonderful movies in this list has one talking to oneself…and answering.

  • wade

    yes , a difficult choice I could have picked any one at least 12 of these movies as Wilder favourites

  • Ron

    Didn’t her direct A FOREIGN AFFAIR? That was one of the best films of the 40′s.
    Instead you included turkeys like THE FRONT PAGE, IRMA LA DOUCE and FORTUNE COOKIE.

    • Blair Kramer

      THE FORTUNE COOKIE certainly is not a “turkey.” Neither, for that matter, is IRMA LA DOUCE.

      • williamsommerwerck

        “The Fortune Cookie” is Wilder indulging in the sentimentality that seems to overtake artists as they age.

        The film’s basic problem is that we know from the start how it’ll end. Wilder is considered a great screenwriter, but he makes a terrible mistake near the beginning — Jack Lemmon says something (I forget exactly what it is) that reveals his values. This not only gives away the ending, but it breaks the “show us, don’t tell us” rule.

  • Movie Fan

    I haven’t seen any of these movies in ages. Some Like It Hot was fun, with the best ending one-liner ever: Nobody’s perfect!

  • Steve in Sacramento

    Wow, very tough call. I went with my sentimental favorite, STALAG 17, but DOUBLE INDEMNITY and SUNSET BLVD. are both great movies, and right there too.

  • Blair Kramer

    SOME LIKE IT HOT of course. But I’m a big fan of ONE, TWO, THREE. I’ll bet Jimmy Cagney had a lot of fun when he made that film.

    • williamsommerwerck

      Fun? It’s amazing Cagney didn’t die while shooting the scene in which he describes how Horst Buchholz is to be made over. He had to deliver that rapid-fire dialog from memory (why Wilder didn’t use cue cards is incomprehensible), and many takes were required. It was the major factor in Cagney quitting acting.

      “One, Two, Three” isn’t a great film, but it is a lot of fun, with the gags coming as quickly as the title suggests.

  • Antone

    I refuse to choose between 3 near-perfect films from wildly divergent genres. Double Indemnity is film noir at its best. Stalag 17 is my favorite POW film. Some Like It Hot is a side-splitting screwball comedy with a dark edge. As Movie Fan noted Some Like It Hot may have the best closing line of all time.

  • Ethan the Searcher

    Two of Wilder’s best are not on the list. Ace in the Hole Starring Kirk Douglas as scumball news reporter covering the story of a man trapped in a cavein. A scathing film of the cut-throat news industry. Still applicaple today. 5 Graves to Cairo with Franchot Tone is a WWII thriller that pits Tone against Rommel in North Africa. Anne Baxter is girl caught in the middle. Erich Von Stroheim is Rommel. They are on DVD but only recently. When picking which of his movies on the list I like best {TOUGH!} I went with theone I’ve watched the most, Stalag 17. Some Like It Hot is great BUT it’s also like hearing a joke. Once you’ve heard the punchline it’s just not as good. I watched it with my grandson recently. He’d never seen it. He loved it. But it was like watching a mystery…such as Witness for the Prosecution {Great, the only time I saw it}. Once you know the ending it loses something. The Front Page {a well done remake of His Girl Friday or a great film from the play} and Ace are the only others I’ve watched multiple times. I truly believe rewatchablity to be true gauge of just how great a film is.

    • Widescreen

      Ace in the Hole is on the list and got 6 votes.

  • wa

    This was a hard one, but I voted for “Some Like it Hot.”

  • Laurence Dabek

    I need more than one option!
    Love Sunset Blvd, for noir, Stalag 17 for a great war time study, Irma La Douce for comedic value, The Apartment for Jack Lemmon. Double Indemnity for MacMurray & Barbara Stanwyck.
    I can’t pick just one!

  • Carolyn Ferrante

    I was only a child when I saw ‘Stalag 17′ at a drive-in open theater, but I remember it made quite an impression on me.

  • Kevin

    I voted for Double Indemnity, perhaps the best Film Noir motion picture ever. I wish I had more than one vote though. Certainly I would have added Stalag 17. And although it wasn’t in my top two or three, I’d like to give some love to The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, a film I think is highly underrated and depicts a different side of Holmes than we have ever seen before on film.

  • Tom La Pare

    Stalag 17! My favorite Christmas movie!

  • williamsommerwerck

    There are so many good ones it’s hard to pick. Morbid person that I am, I chose “Sunset Blvd.”. Superb script and performances (especially Swanson’s, one of the all-time great acting jobs) and Franz Waxman’s fine score (especially when he steals from Richard Strauss).

    Note that “Kiss Me, Stupid” — one of the worst films ever made a major writer/director — isn’t on this list.

  • hiram

    I voted for “Double Indemnity” today. Tomorrow I might vote for “Some LIke It Hot.” Four of the current top five are mine also, but I would move up the very funny — and sort of disturbing — “Major and the Minor.”

  • C.J. Gelfand

    It was hard making a choice, there are so many that I love, but I had to go with The Apartment. I’ve seen it at least 100 times if I’ve seen it once, and can’t help getting hysterical every time, and feeling poignant at the ending.

  • Frank Hospod

    While there are many great films on this list, including Some Like It Hot, Stalag 17, Sabrina, and Sunset Boulevard, the film I consistently return to by Billy Wilder is still Ace In The Hole. This film is a scathing review of the American press’s passion for prurience disguised as “human interest” and is one of the most cynical movies ever to come out of Hollywood. It features one of Kirk Douglas’ most powerful performances and possible the best closing shot in film history. “We’re comin’ for you, Leo”

    • Bruce Reber

      IMO “Ace In The Hole” (AKA “The Big Carnival”) is the first in the triumvirate of movies dealing with manipulation of the mass media, along with “A Face In The Crowd” and “Network”. The propehcies fortold in those movies have become a chilling reality.

      • Bruce Reber

        SIC – it should be “prophecies”.

  • WDPjr

    There are 5 movies on this list I consider top-rate, first-class and deserving of the vote. I had a really tough time choosing just one as my favorite – but that favorite just has to be The Apartment. I make a point to watch it every year around New Year’s time. But I find Apartment and Stalag 17 to be so hopeful and positive despite bad situations as to be inspiring. So those two are my top-top favorites, then there are 3 more top-rate movies. But actually every movie on this list is worth watching.

  • jbourne5181

    I had no trouble at all picking Stalag 17 as my favorite Billy Wilder film. I’s actually one of my favorite films of all time and one that I watch over and over again. Even if I come across it while channel surfing I watch it from whatever part is on, even if it’s where they’re pushing Peter Graves out into the yard. love this movie

  • Laurence Almand

    Wilder was a versatile director – as adept at comedy as he was at drama. STALAG 17 and SOME LIKE IT HOT are direct opposites, yet they are both excellent films.
    He was also painstaking, and worked with expert writers. I think SUNSET BOULEVARD took about 5 years to prepare, from the time Wilder got the idea for it.

    • Antone

      Yes! He was superb in multiple genres. This suggests an interesting follow-up question: Who was the most versatile director—Wilder or Hawks?

  • BernardS

    SUNSET BOULEVARD would have been my favorite BILLY WILDER film, but I voted for
    LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON, because I can see in every frame Wilder was giving homage to
    Ernst Lubitsch, and AUDREY HEPBURN’s presence in it just gave it that much more CLASS.
    If the Gary Cooper role was played by Gary Grant—that would be PERFECT.
    But then, how can anyone get tired of watching SOME LIKE IT HOT, THE APARTMENT,

    BRAVO BILLY WILDER ! You are one of filmdom’s GREATEST.

  • David King

    It must go to “Some Like It Hot” because Wilder truly captures Marilyn at her best comedic-ally speaking! Jack Lemon and Tony Curtis are equally hysterical as “Gal” musicians. I don’t know why, but I always think of Wilder in the same breath as Cukor? Of course the line “Nobody’s perfect” is so funny that that’s what we remember the most from the movie’s dialogue! “Witness For the Prosecution” is a very close second, and Hitchcock said that people often mistakenly gave him credit for directing that film. The Laughton man is my favorite actor, so that may have something to do with ranking the film as second in the Wilder Canon.

  • flyingtoupee

    I can’t pick just one. Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard and Sabrina are three of my favorite movies.