Billy Wilder Poster

Quotes (56)

  • [after directing Marilyn Monroe for the second time in Some Like It Hot (1959)] I have discussed this with my doctor and my psychiatrist and they tell me I'm too old and too rich to go through this again.
  • Some pictures play wonderfully to a room of eight people. I don't go for that. I go for the masses. I go for the end effect.
  • Anyone who doesn't believe in miracles isn't a realist.
  • My English is a mixture between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Archbishop [Desmond Tutu].
  • A bad play folds and is forgotten, but in pictures we don't bury our dead. When you think it's out of your system, your daughter sees it on television and says, "My father is an idiot."
  • The Wilder message is don't bore--don't bore people.
  • I just made pictures I would've liked to see.
  • [opon seeing Sigmund Freud's therapy couch] It was a very tiny little thing. All his theories were based on the analysis of very short people!
  • [in 1976] They say Wilder is out of touch with his times. Frankly, I regard it as a compliment. Who the hell wants to be in touch with these times?
  • Making movies is little like walking into a dark room. Some people stumble across furniture, others break their legs but some of us see better in the dark than others. The ultimate trick is to convince, persuade.
  • I was not a guy writing deep-dish revelations. If people see a picture of mine and then sit down and talk about it for 15 minutes, that is a very fine reward, I think.
  • Today we spend 80% of the time making deals and 20% making pictures.
  • [to a cameraman on one of his pictures] Shoot a few scenes out of focus. I want to win the foreign film award.
  • A director must be a policeman, a midwife, a psychoanalyst, a sycophant and a bastard.
  • [on Marilyn Monroe] Breasts like granite and a brain like Swiss cheese.
  • Hollywood didn't kill Marilyn Monroe; it's the Marilyn Monroes who are killing Hollywood.
  • I have ten commandments. The first nine are, thou shalt not bore. The tenth is, thou shalt have right of final cut.
  • [about the Hotel Marmont on Sunset Blvd., a piece of Hollywood history] I would rather sleep in a bathroom than in another hotel.
  • [asked if it was important for a director to know how to write] No, but it helps if he knows how to read.
  • People copy, people steal. Most of the pictures they make nowadays are loaded down with special effects. I couldn't do that. I quit smoking because I couldn't reload my Zippo.
  • Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as well be your own, instead of someone else's.
  • You have to have a dream so you can get up in the morning.
  • You're only as good as the best thing you've ever done.
  • Hindsight is always 20/20.
  • France is the only country where the money falls apart and you can't tear the toilet paper.
  • [on Ace in the Hole (1951)] I was attacked by every paper because of that movie. They loathed it. It was cynical, they said. Cynical, my ass. I tell you, you read about a plane crash somewhere nearby and you want to check out the scene, you can't get to it because 10,000 people are already there: they're picking up little scraps, ghoulish souvenir hunters. After I read those horrifying reviews about "Ace in the Hole", I remember I was going down Wilshire Boulevard and there was an automobile accident. Somebody was run over. I stopped my car. I wanted to help that guy who was run over. Then another guy jumps out of his car and photographs the thing. "You'd better call an ambulance," I said. "Call a doctor, my ass. I've got to get to the 'L.A. Times'. I've got a picture. I've got to move. I just took a picture here. I've got to deliver it." But you say that in a movie, and the critics think you're exaggerating.
  • [on Marlene Dietrich] Mother Teresa with better legs.
  • [on Marilyn Monroe] An endless puzzle without any solution.
  • The Austrians are brilliant people. They made the world believe that [Adolf Hitler] was a German and [Ludwig van Beethoven] an Austrian.
  • If you're going to tell people the truth, be funny or they'll kill you.
  • An audience is never wrong. An individual member of it may be an imbecile, but 1000 imbeciles together in the dark--that is critical genius.
  • The subtlest comedy you can get right now is M*A*S*H (1970). They don't want to see a picture unless Peter Fonda is running over a dozen people or unless Clint Eastwood has got a machine gun bigger then 140 penises. It gets bigger all the time, you know; it started out as a pistol and now it's a machine gun. Something which is warm and funny and gentle and urbane and civilized hasn't got a chance today. There is a lack of patience which is sweeping the nation--or the world, for that matter.
  • In certain pictures I do hope they will leave the cinema a little enriched, but I don't make them pay a buck and a half and then ram a lecture down their throats.
  • You watch, the new wave will discover the slow dissolve in ten years or so.
  • What critics call dirty in our movies, they call lusty in foreign films.
  • An actor enters through a door, you've got nothing. But if he enters through a window, you've got a situation.
  • The best director is the one you don't see.
  • The close-up is such a valuable thing--like a trump at bridge.
  • [asked what the purpose of making films is] Well, number one, it's too late for me now to change and to become a gardener. Number two is to get away from the house and the vacuum cleaner. I want to be in my office and think. And number three, it's very exciting. I like to tell stories. Ultimately it's interesting. You meet nice people, it's glamorous, and, if you get lucky, very profitable. You suffer a great deal, but to paraphrase President [Harry S. Truman], if you can't take all that crap, get out of the studio. Believe me, this is not a profession for a dignified human being. I can see the interest in pictures when I talk to you students [at the American Film Institute], especially now that almost every university has something connected with movies. But if I had a son I would beat him with a very large whip trying to make a gardener, a dentist or something else out of him. Don't do it. It's just too tough. It hurts, and the moments of glory are very far between. Well, it's too late for me to turn back, too late for me to become a gardener. I can't bend over the azaleas. Not anymore.
  • [on Jack Lemmon] I'm terribly fond of Jack. We understand each other very well and it's a pleasure to work with him. He is a thinking actor, but not an argumentative one. By that way I mean if we start shooting at nine o'clock, he would be there at 8:15 and would come to my office and say, "Hey, I've got a great idea! Look, why don't we do this? Blah, blah, blah, blah." And I just look at him, and he says, "I don't like it either." And he walks out.
  • Everybody in the audience is an idiot, but taken together they're a genius.
  • When you say that I am searching for truth, and uh so and so, you French really know how to flatter somebody. I'm just trying to make a living. Get two hours of film, and I don't really give a shit if whether how true it is, great it is. Just get it over with. Where's that?
  • I don't think that making movies is my entire life. But there's one thing, you know, that I hate more than not being taken seriously, is to be taken too seriously.
  • [on why his films rarely feature children]: I could direct a dog. Kids, I don't know.
  • There was an actress named Marilyn Monroe. She was always late. She never remembered her lines. She was a pain in the ass. My Aunt Millie is a nice lady. If she were in pictures she would always be on time. She would know her lines. She would be nice. Why does everyone in Hollywood want to work with Marilyn Monroe and no one wants to work with my Aunt Millie? Because no one will go to the movies to watch my Aunt Millie.
  • [on film critic Judith Crist] Inviting her to review one of your pictures is like inviting the Boston Strangler to massage your neck.
  • [on William Holden's death] If someone had said to me, "Holden's dead", I would have assumed that he had been gored by a water buffalo in Kenya, that he had died in a plane crash approaching Hong Kong, that a crazed, jealous woman had shot him, and he drowned in a swimming pool. But to be killed by a bottle of vodka and a night table--what a lousy fade-out of a great guy!
  • [his thumbnail example of how he pictured existentialism] This boy falls in love with his mother and marries her. They live together quite happily until one day he learns that she isn't his mother. So he commits suicide.
  • [on Marilyn Monroe] I had no problem with Monroe. Monroe had a problem with Monroe.
  • [on Greta Garbo] Garbo had a sense of the mood, of the texture, of the instinct, without perhaps being very bright. Others can act their ass to shreds and nothing happens. But Garbo has a sixth sense, like [Marilyn Monroe], a sense for what is appropriate.
  • [on Audrey Hepburn] She gives the distinct impression that she can spell "schizophrenia".
  • [after hearing actor Cliff Osmond audition for a singing part] You have Van Gogh's ear for music.
  • [on his abortive attempts to get projects off the ground in the 1980s] I was retired but I didn't know it, because I was too busy.
  • If there are two guys that think the same way, that have the same background, that have the same political convictions and all the rest, it's terrible. It's not collaboration. It's like pulling on one end of the rope.
  • [of Raymond Chandler] He was a mess, but he could write a beautiful sentence.
  • I don't do cinema. I make movies.