En 1978, Fedora was presented in an Out of Competition preview at Cannes. This was nothing new for Billy Wilder, who had already received a Grand Prix at the Festival in 1946 for The Lost Weekend. William Holden and Marthe Keller lend their charisma to this film noir. For the premiere of Fedora Remastered, the Swiss actress granted us an interview in which she talks about the difficult shoot.
American independent producer Barry Detweiler hears about the death of Fedora, a legendary actress who for the past several years had been living in retirement on a Greek island. He recalls his last memories of her: a few weeks before, he had gone to see her in her retreat order to try and persuade to make a comeback in the role of Anna Karenina.
If Marthe Keller remembers little about the film, she is full of praise for William Holden - "a magnificent, intelligent and delicate friend" - and for Billy Wilder, one of the greatest directors with whom she was fortunate enough to work.
However, she admits to only later understanding how lucky she was, so difficult did filming turn out to be. In the 1970s, Wilder's popularity was not what it once was and the director was nervous on set. Furthermore, the filmmaker was from the old school of cinema and continued to film as if it were still the 1950s, going against the tide of modernity, led in particular by the Actors Studio, that was sweeping through Hollywood's studios.
The actress explains: "At the time, the studios governed everything even down to clothes and hair. The message was: be pretty and keep quiet. Some accepted, others left it all behind".
It was just this world of spectacle and deceptive glitz that the filmmaker attacks in Fedora. This satirical commentary is also evident in his masterpiece of twenty eight years earlier, Sunset Boulevard.
This uncontested master of American comedy –Some Like it Hot and The Apartment – shows in Fedora another side of his talent: that of an engaged and critical observer of his milieu.
Sunday 19th May / Buñuel Theatre / 4 p.m.
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