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Wilder Gems on the Big Screen

April 04, 2002|Robin Rauzi

There's no better way to honor Billy Wilder's contributions to motion pictures than by watching some of the 26 films he directed. A few are screening around Los Angeles in the next few weeks.

Some Like It Hot (1959)

Marilyn Monroe as a singer named Sugar Kane. Jack Lemmon in drag. Tony Curtis parodying Cary Grant's accent. It doesn't get any better than this hide-from-the-mob comedy written by Wilder and longtime collaborator I.A.L. Diamond. Lemmon and Curtis don dresses and join an all-girl jazz band after they witness the St. Valentine's Day massacre. The fabulous Hotel de Coronado, near San Diego, stands in for Miami, where the girls deal with their gangster problem and their romantic entanglements.

April 12, 7:30 p.m.; April 13, 2:50 and 7:30 p.m. at the New Beverly Theatre, 7165 Beverly Blvd., L.A., (323) 938-4038.

*

The Apartment (1960)

Made the year after "Some Like It Hot," this is the darker flip side of Wilder's comedy. Jack Lemmon plays C.C. Baxter, an anonymous insurance clerk in a huge firm who's found a way to be useful: He loans out his apartment to company managers who need a place to rendezvous with their mistresses. The awkward situation gets more so when he discovers a love interest, Fran (Shirley MacLaine), is one of the mistresses. Though not the same kind of crowd-pleaser as "Some Like It Hot," it won five Oscars, including best picture, best director and best writing (again, with I.A.L. Diamond).

April 12, 9:50 p.m.; April 13, 5:10 and 9:50 p.m. at the New Beverly Theatre, 7165 Beverly Blvd., L.A., (323) 938-4038.

*

Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

This adaptation of Agatha Christie's story and stage play is dramatic courtroom fare, where an ailing attorney (Charles Laughton) defends an unemployed man (Tyrone Power) accused of murdering a wealthy widow. His wife (Marlene Dietrich) is his alibi, until she testifies for the prosecution. The film garnered six Oscar nominations, and Laughton's performance was a favorite of Wilder's.

April 13, 2 and 8 p.m. at the Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. $7, matinee; $8.50, evening. (818) 243-2539 or www.AlexFilmSociety.org.

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