It’s said that Austrian-born filmmaker Billy Wilder arrived by boat in America in 1934 with $20 in his pocket and a vocabulary of 100 English words. Within just a few years he would become one of the most versatile and entertaining writer-directors Hollywood has ever known, as gifted at crafting drumskin-tight films noir (Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd.) as he was at fashioning buoyant, gorgeously syncopated comedies. Some Like It Hot is nothing short of glorious: Marilyn Monroe’s Sugar Kane Kowalczyk is the lead singer of a roaring-20s, all-girl band infiltrated by two male musicians in drag, played by Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, on the run from mobsters. Curtis’ Joe—a.k.a. Josephine—falls for Sugar and, when he’s not dressed in women’s clothes, tries to woo her by pretending to be a millionaire. Lemmon’s Jerry/Daphne finds himself being pursued by a real millionaire (Joe E. Brown). Though Marilyn’s saucy, frothy performance is bliss to watch, she is said to have been extremely difficult on set (not least because she was at the time secretly pregnant with Arthur Miller’s baby, a child she would lose). By the end of filming, Wilder was totally drained. But after Marilyn’s death, he recalled, “There was a kind of exhaustion and there was a moment of ‘never again.’ All I can tell you is, if Marilyn were around today I would be down on my knees saying, ‘Please, let’s do it again.’”

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The Godfather Part II (1974)
Jaws (1975)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Little Women (2019)