Billy Wilder: Dancing on the Edge


Product Details

Columbia University Press
Publish Date
6.5 X 9.4 X 1.8 inches | 2.4 pounds

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About the Author

Joseph McBride is a film historian and professor in the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University. His many books include the critical study How Did Lubitsch Do It? (Columbia, 2018) as well as acclaimed biographies of Frank Capra, John Ford, and Steven Spielberg and three books on Orson Welles.


Only Joseph McBride could have given us Billy Wilder in such fullness, as he's done previously with Lubitsch, Ford, and other masters. The breadth of research is staggering, yet it is always placed at the service of McBride's free ruminative style, unbound by dutiful chronological study--instead, we have a sensibility, and a conversation. By placing the production histories and legacies of collaboration into the widest possible historical frame, McBride reanimates Wilder's life and art, returning us to the masterpieces to see them with fresh eyes, and hungry to discover the films we've missed.--Jonathan Lethem, author of The Ecstasy of Influence: Nonfictions, Etc.
With his walk-on-the-dark-side comedies and refusal to sentimentalize, Wilder's reputation has only grown with time, and this magisterial critical study does full justice to his complex talent. McBride draws stunning connections between the life and the art, and his discussion of Wilder's treatment of women is especially fresh and persuasive. Both massive and entertaining, this is a must-read for Wilder fans.--Molly Haskell, film critic and author
A superb study of Billy Wilder and an ideal companion to McBride's recent How Did Lubitsch Do It? This book is rich with information about the Viennese/Weimar culture that helped shape Wilder and wonderfully attentive to his artistry. It's the best critical account of a great filmmaker, showing exactly how he did it.--James Naremore, author of More Than Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts
The most complete and profound study of Billy Wilder to date, one in which the work and the life illuminate each other, and two worlds that seemed separate are joined and complemented with unsuspecting coherence. A book that brings us closer to Wilder, humanizing and explaining him like no other.--Fernando Trueba, director of Belle Époque
Joseph McBride is one of the best film critics and historians. His Billy Wilder is a crowning achievement. He casts considerable new light on Wilder's early life in Vienna and Berlin and reevaluates his artistic status, including his great later work. The cliché of Wilder as cynic and misanthrope is not to McBride's taste. Instead, he reveals the complexity of the man and the coherence of his eclectic oeuvre.--Michel Ciment, editor of Positif