Second Takes — Billy Wilder


Kevin Thomas writes an appreciation of director Mitchell Leisen for a 1977 revival of "Midnight" and "Death Takes a Holiday." The 1941 film "Hold Back the Dawn" reunited Leisen, Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder.


The Times' Philip K. Scheuer calls Brackett and Wilder's script for "Hold Back the Dawn" "close to brilliant."

According to a 1942 Times story, Paulette Goddard was originally cast in the role of an Azusa schoolteacher who succumbs to the wiles of a gigolo played by Charles Boyer, then yielded the role to Olivia de Havilland and became Boyer's cynical partner.

"I backed all the way into this business," she said, "and I may have to back some more. But I'm getting there." (According to the story, Goddard had been stonewalled by the studios for several years because she threw a telephone at a Hollywood producer).

Bonus fact: Ketti Frings, who wrote "Memo to a Movie Producer," the original story for "Hold Back the Dawn," was the 1958 Times Woman of the Year for playwriting. 


About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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