Shelf Indulgence review
In this issue of Shelf Indulgence, Margaret Murphy travels
In this issue of Shelf Indulgence, Margaret Murphy travels back in time with Jonathan Coe to eavesdrop on a pivotal moment in the life of a Hollywood legend. With a roll call of film classics including Double Indemnity, Some Like it Hot, Ace in the Hole and Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder was destined to be listed as one of the Top 40 Greatest Directors of All Time. He received twelve Academy Award nominations in a film career spanning fifty-two years, holding the record until Woody Allen pipped him with a thirteenth nomination in 1997. But by 1977, his star on the wane, Wilder was making his ill-fated film, Fedora, filmed partly in Greece and France, and partly in Berlin. It is during this time that Jonathan Coe takes up the tale.
Mr Wilder & Me opens in the heady, hot summer of 1977. A naïve young woman sets out from Athens to venture into the wider world and finds herself working for the famed Hollywood director. Coe combines fact, anecdote, and creative licence artfully to reconstruct a moment in time and reimagine a situation in a witty, illuminating and constantly entertaining narrative, which also addresses why Wilder – who lost his mother, grandmother and stepfather to the Holocaust –might have sought funding for his latest project from the country which took them from him.
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