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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Second Takes -- Billy Wilder


July 5, 1953, Billy Wilder, Stalag 17

July 5, 1953: The ads for "Stalag 17" emphasized that it was a comedy.

July 3, 1951, Billy Wilder, Stalag 17

July 3, 1951: Rumors surface that Wilder will direct "Stalag 17," less than a month after the disastrous opening of "Ace in the Hole."  "Stalag 17" opens almost precisely two years later.

Oct. 11, 1951, Billy Wilder, Stalag 17

Oct. 11, 1951: Hedda Hopper, who panned "Ace in the Hole," reports that Wilder will make a film of the hit Broadway play "Stalag 17" with Charlton Heston.

Oct. 14, 1951, Billy Wilder, Stalag 17

Oct. 14, 1951: A plot summary of "Stalag 17" emphasizing that it's a comedy. Local audiences wouldn't necessarily be familiar with the play, which didn't premiere in Los Angeles until June 1952.

Oct. 24, 1951, Billy Wilder, Stalag 17

Oct. 24, 1951: Casting continues for "Stalag 17." For some reason,
 Hopper ardently used her column to plug Cy Howard, who left the
 film after two weeks of shooting.

  Dec. 4, 1951, Billy Wilder, Stalag 17

Dec. 4, 1951: Cast change. William Holden will co-star with Heston.

Dec. 19, 1951, Billy Wilder, Stalag 17

Dec. 19, 1951: Casting continues.

Jan. 5, 1952, Billy Wilder, Stalag 17

Jan. 5, 1952: Otto Preminger joins the cast.

Jan. 15, 1952, Billy Wilder, Stalag 17

Jan. 15, 1952: Now Holden is the lead in the film.

Jan. 24, 1952, Billy Wilder, Stalag 17

Jan. 24, 1952: "Stalag" playwright Edmund Trzcinski joins the cast ... and
another plug for Cy Howard.

Jan. 31, 1952, Billy Wilder, Stalag 17

Jan. 31, 1952: Peter Graves joins the cast in the critical role of Price.

Feb. 9, 1952, Billy Wilder, Stalag 17

Feb. 9, 1952: Holden's brother Richard Beedle gets a small role.

Feb. 13, 1952, Billy Wilder, Stalag 17

Feb. 13, 1952: The stage version of "Stalag 17" has an all-male cast, but this blurb makes it sound like Paramount is writing women in the film. According to imdb, "Stalag 17" is Audrey Strauss' only film role.

Feb. 15, 1952, Billy Wilder, Stalag 17

Feb. 15, 1952: Another role is cast.


Feb. 16, 1952, Billy Wilder, Stalag 17

Feb. 16, 1952: Cy Howard drops out of the picture and gets a lengthy blurb from Hedda Hopper. In fact, Hopper has given more space to Howard than she has to Holden!


July 16, 1953, Billy Wilder, Stalag 17

July 16, 1953: "Stalag 17" opens in Los Angeles after a premiere in Beverly Hills. Perhaps in response to the disaster of "Ace in the Hole," the ad campaign spins the movie as a comedy. "One of the funniest films of the year" ... "best of the war comedy pictures" ... "finest comedy drama out of Hollywood this year."

Philip K. Scheuer's review says: "Billy Wilder, one of the most caustic-minded of Hollywood's writer-director-producers, has taken a stage hit by Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzcinski and preserved its essential humor and tragedy with no dulling of its corrosive edges, though he has cleaned it up in both language and situations."
 
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