Why does Billy Wilder love the state of Ohio?

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Why does Billy Wilder love the state of Ohio?

Post by CoffeeDan »

In the three months since Hillsdale College hosted a lecture series on the films of Billy Wilder, I've been rewatching a lot of his films -- and seeing some of them for the first time. As I've watched many of his later films, I've noticed that many of them mention the state of Ohio or Ohio locations, and it happens so often it's more than coincidence. I'll list a few:

SUNSET BLVD. (1950) -- Before he came to Hollywood, Joe Gillis (William Holden) was a copy editor for the Dayton (Ohio) Evening Post, and is getting ready to go back there after he falters as a screenwriter.

STALAG 17 (1953) -- American prisoner of war J. J. Sefton (William Holden, again) hails from Cleveland. And prison guard Sgt. Johann Sebastian Schulz (Sig Rumann) mentions that he has visited both Cleveland and Cincinnati.

SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959)-- All of the Ohio references come out the mouth of Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe):

Sugar: I come from this musical family. My mother is a piano teacher and my father was a conductor.
Joe: Where did he conduct?
Sugar: On the Baltimore and Ohio.

"[Room]414 -- the same room number I had in Cincinnati . . ."

"Oh, Josephine, just imagine me -- Sugar Kowalczyk from Sandusky, Ohio, on a millionaire's yacht . . ."

THE APARTMENT (1960) -- C. C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is telling Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) about the time he tried to commit suicide: "I went to a pawnshop and bought a forty-five automatic and drove up to Eden Park. Do you know Cincinnati?"

THE FRONT PAGE (1974) -- Walter Burns (Walter Matthau) makes a passing reference to Sandusky, Ohio (not in the original Hecht-MacArthur play).

And, of course, THE FORTUNE COOKIE (1966), which not only takes place entirely in Cleveland, but was partly filmed on location there.

Anybody know of any others? Since I found these, I'm curious to see if there are any Ohio references in his early screenplays, before he became a director -- and especially any before SUNSET BLVD. Feel free to chime in.
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Re: Why does Billy Wilder love the state of Ohio?

Post by moira finnie »

I wonder if Wilder, as a perceptive emigre to the U.S., felt that Ohio was somehow quintessentially American--which could be good or bad, depending on how jaundiced the filmmaker felt about his adopted homeland when crafting his films?
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