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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Second Takes -- Billy Wilder


  
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Dec. 5, 1939: "Ninotchka" opens tomorrow!


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And no, not a word about the screenwriters in this anonymous review, which appeared in The Times on Dec. 7, 1939.

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"I still remember the day of the funeral," Billy Wilder said of Ernst Lubitsch. "After the ceremony William Wyler and I walked silently to our car. Finally, I said, just to say something to break the silence, 'No more Lubitsch.' To which Wyler replied, 'Worse than that -- No more Lubitsch filmes.' How right we were. For 20 years since then we were all trying to find the secret of the 'Lubitsch touch.' Nothing doing. Oh if we were lucky we sometimes managed a few feet of film here and there in our work that momentarily sparkled like Lubitsch. Like Lubitsch, not real Lubitsch. His art is lost. That most elegant of screen magicians took his secret with him."

 

 
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Comments (1)

What was said about the Ernst Lubitsch is also true of Wilder. The Wilder Touch, which was abundant through 'The Fortune Cookie', we have no more. It was every bit as distinctive as The Lubitsch Touch -- just a bit more deliciously cynical.


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