With What a Carve Up author Jonathan Coe on the Kings Place stage and cinema historian Noah Isenberg joining live from the US, this is a suitably transatlantic discussion of Billy Wilder, one of Europe’s most important exports to Hollywood, the writer-director of classics including Some Like It Hot, Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity and The Apartment.
After winning both the Costa and the Prix du Livre Européen for Middle England, Coe’s latest acclaimed novel Mr Wilder & Me focuses on a young Greek woman taken on as interpreter and assistant on one of his final films in the late 1970s. The fictionalised account also flashes back to the six-time Oscar-winner’s earlier life in Austria, which is the subject of Billy Wilder on Assignment: Dispatches from Weimar Berlin and Interwar Vienna edited by Isenberg, author of books on Casablanca, Edgar G. Ulmer and German-Jewish Modernism. For the first time over 50 of Wilder’s articles from 1925-1930 – covering topics as varied as the Prince of Wales, jazz, and his stint as a dance companion for hire at an exclusive Berlin hotel – are translated into English, alongside insightful commentary from the professor and chair of the University of Texas’ department of radio-television-film. An unmissable discussion of one of cinema’s most influential and best-loved figures, chaired by The Film Programme host Francine Stock.
Mr Wilder & Me and Billy Wilder on Assignment will be available to purchase at the Blackwell’s pop-up bookstall on Sun 3 Oct.