That’s the director, lurking in the background, with his trademark owl framed spectacles. When I was a tyke my father took me to a retrospective screening at the DGA of SOME LIKE IT HOT – a then elderly Billy Wilder and Tony Curtis presided.
The screening was packed and the audience screamed with laughter – including a tiny “yours truly”. Afterward a white haired Mr. Curtis paid a loving tribute to Mr. Wilder and the director himself took questions from the audience. In response to a query about the importance of the screenplay in relation to other aspects of film making his unvarnished answer was, “You can’t turn chicken shit into chicken liver.” Spoken like a man who had written some of the best movies ever made. (And, perhaps a little pithier in his native German.)
That’s always been the quote that’s stuck in my head. The one that stuck in my father’s, so much so I found it inscribed on Mr. Wilder’s card in his Rolodex was –
“If you’re going to tell people the truth, be funny or they’ll kill you.”
BILLY WILDER (b. 1906 – d. 2002)