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Memorable Billy Wilder Characters

March 28, 2002

Some of the witty characters and unusual situations that made Billy Wilder’s films so striking:

``Ninotchka,″ 1939: Greta Garbo is a dour Soviet bureaucrat in Paris who is turned around by the love of a playboy, Melvyn Douglas.

``Double Indemnity,″ 1944: Fred MacMurray is an insurance agent sucked into a murder plot by Barbara Stanwyck, the glamorous wife of a client.

``Sunset Boulevard,″ 1950: Gloria Swanson is a former silent screen goddess who has become an insane, murderous recluse.

``Ace in the Hole″ or ``The Big Carnival,″ 1951: Kirk Douglas is a corrupt journalist who, for personal gain, prolongs the ordeal of a man trapped in a cave.

``Witness for the Prosecution,″ 1958: Tyrone Power is a man put on trial for murder, even though he is innocent. Or is he? Marlene Dietrich is the German woman who married him and becomes his chief accuser.

``Some Like It Hot,″ 1959: Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis are musicians who pose as female members of an all-girl band to escape after witnessing a gangland massacre.

``The Apartment,″ 1960: Lemmon is an ambitious clerk who lets bosses at his office use his apartment for their extramarital trysts.

``One Two Three,″ 1963: James Cagney is a businessman in West Berlin trying to sell Coca-Cola to the Russians, get a promotion and keep his boss’ nubile daughter out of trouble.

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