Mark Harris
July 25, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Billy Wilder DVD Collection (DVD - 2003)

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season

We gave it a B-

In 1961, when Billy Wilder stepped to the podium to collect one of his three Oscars for The Apartment, presenter Moss Hart whispered, ”This is the moment to stop, Billy.” Hart wasn’t wrong. A more accurate name for this nine-film collection might be Wilder: The Later Years, since it picks up long after the great writer-director’s triumphs with Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, and Sabrina. So what do you get for your $129.96? Two indisputable masterpieces — 1959’s Some Like It Hot and 1960’s The Apartment (below), both of which still delight. One enjoyably theatrical piece of courtroom hokum (1957’s Witness for the Prosecution). One riotous capitalism-in-the-Cold-War satire (1961’s One, Two, Three, with James Cagney in his last major role, spitting out his lines like machine-gun fire). And, unfortunately, five movies that trace the master’s decline: Shirley MacLaine’s charm redeems 1963’s overblown Irma La Douce, and Walter Matthau’s Oscar-winning turn as a sleazy lawyer helps 1966’s stale Fortune Cookie along, but the less said about Kiss Me, Stupid (1964), The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), or Avanti! (1972), the better. For buffs and collectors: A- Bang for your buck: B-

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