Billy Wilder George Morris - Essay

George Morris

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

As moving as much of it is, Fedora is a problematic film. I wish Wilder had given the thwarted romance between Barry and Fedora the same intensity he brings to the similar relationship between Sherlock Holmes and his German Spy. I also wish he had devoted less time to the unraveling of the surface mystery….

And yet. And yet. Fedora is an elegant reminder of a formal perfection that has all but vanished from contemporary filmmaking. When Wilder's camera tracks past a luxurious ballroom of waltzing dancers, the exhilaration and beauty of the scene are tempered somewhat by the cranes and booms we see filming it. Even in this movie within a movie, the time for this kind of grandeur has almost gone….

Like the three movies which precede it, Fedora is a film of memory. But this time, we must remember, too. No other Wilder film depends so much on associations from his other movies. In this respect, Fedora may prove unsatisfying for those who do not love and appreciate Billy Wilder's films. But those of us who do, it is a worthy addition to the work of one of the supreme artists of the American cinema. (p. 39)

George Morris, "The Private Films of Billy Wilder" (copyright © 1979 by George Morris; reprinted by permission of the author), in Film Comment, Vol. 15, No. 1, January-February, 1979, pp. 34-9.