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Zolotow calls Wilder ""the man you hate to love"" and presumably expects his portrait-cum-critique to infect us with a grudging tenderness for the talented, nasty, obsessive, opportunistic, and misogynistic writer-director whose credits include The Apartment, Some Like It Hot, Sunset Boulevard, Lost Weekend, and Stalag 17. Not so. Even (or especially) devotees of the cynical Wilder film library will find the former Viennese gigolo an unsympathetic, tedious twit as he gets tough with H. Bogart and M. Monroe-Miller, bristles at Raymond Chandler's alcoholic work habits, dumps partner Charles Brackett, seemingly forgets about his mother till the Red Cross informs him of her Auschwitz death, develops his mastery of Hollywood ""meet-cutes,"" and states his credo on women: on film, ""unless she's a whore, she's a bore. . . in real life, most women are stupid."" Zolotow laboriously sides with Wilder in all those soundstage skirmishes, heaps praise on the recent Wilder turkeys (Kiss Me, Stupid), and even comes up with a pseudo-justification for all that woman-hating whore-baiting: Billy's young love Ilse turned out to be a hooker. Oh. Matters aren't helped by testimonials from Beverly Hilisians (Jack Benny: ""I love to go to his house for dinner"") or a sampler of ""Wilder the Wit""--tasteless clunkers (like ""taking [deaf] Willie Wyler to a musical is about as smart as taking Stevie Wonder to the art museum"") that are outdone only by Zolotow (considerably juiced up since his earlier stolid show-biz chronicles) in heat: ""Lina Wertmuller's Swept Away. . . can't even hold a phallus or a vagina to Ninotchka."" Still, if sorry stuff as biography or cine-study, Wilder in Hollywood isn't all that bad as screen gossip--not to be trusted, of course, but gorged with smeared names, low remarks, and seamy out-takes.

Pub Date: June 29th, 1977
ISBN: 0879100702
Publisher: Putnam