Billy Wilder Stephen Farber - Essay

Stephen Farber

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Wilder's work, like the work of most of his contemporaries, is compromised; in his case, though, the compromises have been condemned with unusual severity. The common critical view of Wilder—much too simple a view, I believe—is that he is a cynic who repeatedly tempers the harshness of his vision in deference to the box office. (p. 9)

Wilder's tendency to caricature is one way of diluting the acid. But even at its most frivolous, this caricature cannot help exposing Wilder's misanthropic temperament. In The Seven Year Itch, a comic strip psychiatrist arrives early for an appointment and explains impassively, "My 3:00 patient jumped out of the window during his session, and I've been 15...

(The entire section is 885 words.)