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Blu-ray & DVD Review
Billy Wilder had spent much time in and around the Hollywood machine, as a director he had produced some magnificent films, The Lost Weekend (1945), Sunset Boulevard (1950), a string of comedies including The Seven Year Itch (1955), Some Like it Hot (1959) and The Apartment (1960). Whether his subject matter seemed trite or tragic there was always a nod to the sadder side of life even in his most frivolous piece...
Fedora (1978. 1 hr 53 min 26 sec) is Wilder's penultimate movie and a better film than its initial reception would suggest.
It tells the story of Fedora (Marthe Keller) who had led her life as a celebrated Hollywood actress who never seemed to age. When she kills herself an aging and washed up producer, Barry "Dutch" Detweiler (William Holden) comes to pay his last respects.
Here he recounts meeting Fedora a couple of weeks ago when he was trying to interest her in a film role. He found her circumstances bizarre as she seemed almost a captive of the people who were working for her and a Polish countess. When Dutch confronts the Polish princess she admits that she is Fedora and the dead woman was her daughter Antonia.
The film was not a success when it was made, partially because the way the film was shot harkened back to a different era of movie making, fine if you understood that he was looking back at what he perceived to be an era concerned more with the art of film rather than the age of the actors. This was Wilder's attack on the youth orientate culture of Hollywood. There seems to be a nostalgic wave which comes over some people as they age. Not only was he biting the hand which fed him, but also the halcyon days which he harkened back to never did exist.
William Holden, who had worked with Wilder on Sunset Boulevard is extremely good in the part and both Michael York and Henry Fonda appear as themselves. Unfortunately, the biggest fault in the film is Marthe Keller's acting which is not as good as her obvious beauty.
The print has been extensively restored and a comparison demo (4 min, 03 sec) is provided with the extras. The extras also contain Deleted Scenes (12 min, 49 sec) some nice extra bits which were trimmed for time.
The film is presented with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and comes with English subtitles and a booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Neil Sinyard, a new essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns, a vintage piece on the film's production and archival imagery.
So, not a bad collection for what will be see as one of Wilder's more flawed films.
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