Buddy, Buddy


1h 36m 1981

Brief Synopsis

A suicidal neurotic keeps getting between a hit man and his job.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Also Known As
Aquí un amigo, Buddy Buddy
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Comedy
Release Date
1981
Production Company
Cloudia; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.
Distribution Company
Cic Productions; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m

Synopsis

A clumsy would-be suicide decides to end it all in a hotel, but instead gets mixed up with a hit man who rents the room next door and finds the filling of his contract difficult.

Film Details

Also Known As
Aquí un amigo, Buddy Buddy
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Comedy
Release Date
1981
Production Company
Cloudia; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.
Distribution Company
Cic Productions; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m

Articles

Buddy, Buddy - Buddy Buddy


Buddy Buddy (1981), the final film by the great American writer/director Billy Wilder, is based on a French play by the prolific Francis Veber. Veber specialized in farces about odd-couple pairings, usually a straight-laced professional thrown together with a chaotic, idiotic, or oblivious buffoon unaware of his own ridiculousness. This play was no different: a hitman checks in to a hotel as part of his assignment to silence a mob witness, only to be distracted by a sad sack who tries to commit suicide in the suite next door. That, naturally, brings unwanted attention his way, until he placates the staff by promising to babysit this guy. This, of course, leads to a whole new set of problems.

The original play has been turned into a French film called L'Emmerdeur (1973), retitled A Pain in the A-- for American release (an accurate translation would have been unprintable in family newspapers at the time), with Lino Ventura as the no-nonsense contract killer and Jacques Brel as the suicidal schlub.

MGM thought it was prime material for a remake and offered it to Billy Wilder. The director tended to develop his own projects but agreed nonetheless, seeing possibilities in the set-up and roles tailor-made for his favorite buddy team. Jack Lemmon made six films for Wilder before Buddy Buddy and Wilder was the first director to pair him up with Walter Matthau. The Fortune Cookie (1966) launched one of the most resilient comic duos -- and friendships -- in Hollywood. They signed on before Wilder even had a script and the production was immediately put on the MGM slate.

Wilder and his writing partner, I.A.L. Diamond, changed the hitman from a meticulous, hard-edged professional into a more sardonic, shaggy eccentric for Matthau. He's a man who seems to really enjoy his work as the insidious assassinations in the opening scenes attest. Lemmon's neurotic bumbler is like a pathetic Felix Unger, come to woo back his runaway wife (Paula Prentiss) and failing miserably. He clings to Matthau's mercenary loner like a puppy who has found his first and only friend. Klaus Kinski plays the European sex therapist of dubious reputation who has "liberated" Prentiss. Wilder originally wanted Jack Webb to play the police chief charged with protecting the witness under threat but settled on character actor Dana Elcar.

Wilder confessed that he and Diamond didn't have enough time to develop the black comedy into their brand of satire. "Sometimes scenes that play beautifully in the typewriter don't work on film," he later remarked. The atmosphere on the set was congenial, with Matthau needling Wilder, Lemmon cracking jokes and Wilder enjoying the collaboration with his favorite comedy team. But they were also feeling their age. Lemmon struggled with the physical comedy, most of it revolving around his failed attempts to kill himself, and Matthau injured his neck in a minor stunt involving a laundry chute and was out for a week to recover. Also, in the middle of the shoot, Wilder's good friend William Holden died in a fall. It was a devastating blow for Wilder.

A veteran of old Hollywood, Wilder was under pressure to prove to the new Hollywood regime that he could still, at over eighty years of age, make a commercial comedy. He struggled to appear contemporary with jokes about drugs and sex and he sprinkled foul language through Matthau's dialogue. It only served to make Wilder seem more out of touch. Buddy Buddy was a rare critical and commercial failure for Wilder, and it became his final film as a director, but it also anticipated a genre that was to become popular years later: the hitman comedy.

Producer: Jay Weston
Director: Billy Wilder
Screenplay: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, Francis Veber (story and play)
Cinematography: Harry Stradling, Jr.
Music: Lalo Schifrin
Film Editing: Argyle Nelson
Cast: Jack Lemmon (Victor Clooney), Walter Matthau (Trabucco), Paula Prentiss (Celia Clooney), Klaus Kinski (Dr. Hugo Zuckerbrot), Dana Elcar (Capt. Hubris), Miles Chapin (Eddie, the Bellhop), Michael Ensign (Assistant Manager), Joan Shawlee (Receptionist), Fil Formicola (Rudy 'Disco' Gambola), C.J. Hunt (Kowalski).
C-96m.

by Sean Axmaker

Sources:
Billy Wilder Interviews, edited by Robert Horton. 2001, University Press of Mississippi.
Conversations With Wilder, Cameron Crowe. 1999, Knopf.
Jack Lemmon, Michael Freedland. 1985, St. Martin's Press.
Nobody's Perfect, Charlotte Chandler. 2002, Simon and Schuster
On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder, Ed Sikov. 1998, Hyperion.

Buddy, Buddy - Buddy Buddy

Buddy, Buddy - Buddy Buddy

Buddy Buddy (1981), the final film by the great American writer/director Billy Wilder, is based on a French play by the prolific Francis Veber. Veber specialized in farces about odd-couple pairings, usually a straight-laced professional thrown together with a chaotic, idiotic, or oblivious buffoon unaware of his own ridiculousness. This play was no different: a hitman checks in to a hotel as part of his assignment to silence a mob witness, only to be distracted by a sad sack who tries to commit suicide in the suite next door. That, naturally, brings unwanted attention his way, until he placates the staff by promising to babysit this guy. This, of course, leads to a whole new set of problems. The original play has been turned into a French film called L'Emmerdeur (1973), retitled A Pain in the A-- for American release (an accurate translation would have been unprintable in family newspapers at the time), with Lino Ventura as the no-nonsense contract killer and Jacques Brel as the suicidal schlub. MGM thought it was prime material for a remake and offered it to Billy Wilder. The director tended to develop his own projects but agreed nonetheless, seeing possibilities in the set-up and roles tailor-made for his favorite buddy team. Jack Lemmon made six films for Wilder before Buddy Buddy and Wilder was the first director to pair him up with Walter Matthau. The Fortune Cookie (1966) launched one of the most resilient comic duos -- and friendships -- in Hollywood. They signed on before Wilder even had a script and the production was immediately put on the MGM slate. Wilder and his writing partner, I.A.L. Diamond, changed the hitman from a meticulous, hard-edged professional into a more sardonic, shaggy eccentric for Matthau. He's a man who seems to really enjoy his work as the insidious assassinations in the opening scenes attest. Lemmon's neurotic bumbler is like a pathetic Felix Unger, come to woo back his runaway wife (Paula Prentiss) and failing miserably. He clings to Matthau's mercenary loner like a puppy who has found his first and only friend. Klaus Kinski plays the European sex therapist of dubious reputation who has "liberated" Prentiss. Wilder originally wanted Jack Webb to play the police chief charged with protecting the witness under threat but settled on character actor Dana Elcar. Wilder confessed that he and Diamond didn't have enough time to develop the black comedy into their brand of satire. "Sometimes scenes that play beautifully in the typewriter don't work on film," he later remarked. The atmosphere on the set was congenial, with Matthau needling Wilder, Lemmon cracking jokes and Wilder enjoying the collaboration with his favorite comedy team. But they were also feeling their age. Lemmon struggled with the physical comedy, most of it revolving around his failed attempts to kill himself, and Matthau injured his neck in a minor stunt involving a laundry chute and was out for a week to recover. Also, in the middle of the shoot, Wilder's good friend William Holden died in a fall. It was a devastating blow for Wilder. A veteran of old Hollywood, Wilder was under pressure to prove to the new Hollywood regime that he could still, at over eighty years of age, make a commercial comedy. He struggled to appear contemporary with jokes about drugs and sex and he sprinkled foul language through Matthau's dialogue. It only served to make Wilder seem more out of touch. Buddy Buddy was a rare critical and commercial failure for Wilder, and it became his final film as a director, but it also anticipated a genre that was to become popular years later: the hitman comedy. Producer: Jay Weston Director: Billy Wilder Screenplay: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, Francis Veber (story and play) Cinematography: Harry Stradling, Jr. Music: Lalo Schifrin Film Editing: Argyle Nelson Cast: Jack Lemmon (Victor Clooney), Walter Matthau (Trabucco), Paula Prentiss (Celia Clooney), Klaus Kinski (Dr. Hugo Zuckerbrot), Dana Elcar (Capt. Hubris), Miles Chapin (Eddie, the Bellhop), Michael Ensign (Assistant Manager), Joan Shawlee (Receptionist), Fil Formicola (Rudy 'Disco' Gambola), C.J. Hunt (Kowalski). C-96m. by Sean Axmaker Sources: Billy Wilder Interviews, edited by Robert Horton. 2001, University Press of Mississippi. Conversations With Wilder, Cameron Crowe. 1999, Knopf. Jack Lemmon, Michael Freedland. 1985, St. Martin's Press. Nobody's Perfect, Charlotte Chandler. 2002, Simon and Schuster On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder, Ed Sikov. 1998, Hyperion.

TCM Remembers - Billy Wilder


A FOND FAREWELL TO ONE OF HOLLYWOOD'S MOST GIFTED DIRECTORS - BILLY WILDER, 11906-2002


Billy Wilder had the most deliciously dirty mind in Hollywood. The director dug into racy, controversial subjects with cynical wit and rare candor; he set new standards for film noir, sex comedies and the buddy film and his movies continue to inspire new generations of filmmakers.

Cameron Crowe, screenwriter and director of contemporary hit films such as Jerry Maguire(1996), was one of those moved by Wilder's film sense. The struggling filmmaker struck up a friendship with the 93-year old veteran and found a friend and a mentor. Their conversations were recently chronicled in a book by Cameron Crowe entitled Conversations with Wilder(published by Knoft).

Billy Wilder might have been born in Vienna, but American culture influenced him from the earliest days. Given the name Samuel, Wilder's mother called her son 'Billy' in honor of Buffalo Bill Cody. The name stuck.

Billy was as restless as his namesake and left law school to become a journalist. While grinding out articles for a Berlin newspaper, Wilder joined with future film directors Fred Zinnemann, Robert Sidomak and Edgar G. Ulmer to make a short film, Menschen Am Sonntag (1929). By the mid-1930s, he had written seven scenarios and even tried his hand at directing. After Hitler's rise to power in 1934, Wilder fled his homeland. Once in Hollywood, Wilder and roommate Peter Lorre had to learn English quickly if they wanted to join the American film industry. Together the German expatriates learned the language and began staking their territory in the Dream Factory.

As a writer, Wilder could craft realistic relationships with sharp dialogue; he proved this in his scripts for Ninotchka (1939) with Greta Garbo and Howard Hawks' Ball of Fire(1941). As a filmmaker, Wilder was well acquainted with the shadowy, brooding style of German Expressionism. He brought these two gifts together to create a landmark film noir - DOUBLE INDEMNITY(1944). He followed this cinematic triumph with a risky project, the story of an alcoholic on a three-day binge. Not the usual subject matter for a Hollywood studio, THE LOST WEEKEND (1945) nevertheless claimed the Academy Award for Best Picture. By the end of the decade, Wilder dared even to paint a portrait of Hollywood stardom gone awry in Sunset Boulevard (1950).

Each of these films is an undisputed classic today, but even at the time, his films were lauded. Six of his screenplays were nominated for Oscars between 1941-1950. Three of his eight Best Director nominations also came during this period. Billy Wilder claimed the American Dream; he was successfully playing by his own rules.

By the end of the '50s, as censorship guidelines were easing, Wilder's projects became even more daring. Sex was central to Wilder's world and Hollywood celebrated his candor. He directed Marilyn Monroe in two of her most sensuous roles, The Seven Year Itch (1955) and SOME LIKE IT HOT(1959). More often than not, Wilder liked pointing his finger at the hyprocrisy of people's sexual mores. In THE APARTMENT(1960), Wilder took an incisive look at corrupt businessmen exploiting their employees for sexual favors. In IRMA LA DOUCE (1963), the world of a Parisian prostitute was lovingly painted in Technicolor tones. In Kiss Me, Stupid (1964), Wilder finally stepped over the line with the story of a struggling composer willing to offer his wife to sell a song.The film, which seems so innocent today, was scandalous in its own day. Critics called Kiss Me, Stupid pornographic smut and buried the picture. Audiences ignored it. Today, the film is a risque farce with great performances by Dean Martin and Kim Novak. The critical lambast deeply affected Wilder; this would be his last sex comedy.

In 1966 Wilder brought together the dynamic combination of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau with THE FORTUNE COOKIE. Director and stars teamed again for The Front Page (1974), a remake of the newspaper classic; and Buddy, Buddy (1981), the story of an assassin and a sad sack ready to commit suicide.

Wilder's many years in Hollywood produced an amazing string of hits. From sarcastic and cynical social commentary to outrageous sex farce, Wilder pushed his audiences to look at their own values and morals. He was an outsider who wasn't afraid to point out the follies of his fellow man or the worst aspects of American culture. He will be sorely missed.

By Jeremy Geltzer

TCM Remembers - Billy Wilder

A FOND FAREWELL TO ONE OF HOLLYWOOD'S MOST GIFTED DIRECTORS - BILLY WILDER, 11906-2002 Billy Wilder had the most deliciously dirty mind in Hollywood. The director dug into racy, controversial subjects with cynical wit and rare candor; he set new standards for film noir, sex comedies and the buddy film and his movies continue to inspire new generations of filmmakers. Cameron Crowe, screenwriter and director of contemporary hit films such as Jerry Maguire(1996), was one of those moved by Wilder's film sense. The struggling filmmaker struck up a friendship with the 93-year old veteran and found a friend and a mentor. Their conversations were recently chronicled in a book by Cameron Crowe entitled Conversations with Wilder(published by Knoft). Billy Wilder might have been born in Vienna, but American culture influenced him from the earliest days. Given the name Samuel, Wilder's mother called her son 'Billy' in honor of Buffalo Bill Cody. The name stuck. Billy was as restless as his namesake and left law school to become a journalist. While grinding out articles for a Berlin newspaper, Wilder joined with future film directors Fred Zinnemann, Robert Sidomak and Edgar G. Ulmer to make a short film, Menschen Am Sonntag (1929). By the mid-1930s, he had written seven scenarios and even tried his hand at directing. After Hitler's rise to power in 1934, Wilder fled his homeland. Once in Hollywood, Wilder and roommate Peter Lorre had to learn English quickly if they wanted to join the American film industry. Together the German expatriates learned the language and began staking their territory in the Dream Factory. As a writer, Wilder could craft realistic relationships with sharp dialogue; he proved this in his scripts for Ninotchka (1939) with Greta Garbo and Howard Hawks' Ball of Fire(1941). As a filmmaker, Wilder was well acquainted with the shadowy, brooding style of German Expressionism. He brought these two gifts together to create a landmark film noir - DOUBLE INDEMNITY(1944). He followed this cinematic triumph with a risky project, the story of an alcoholic on a three-day binge. Not the usual subject matter for a Hollywood studio, THE LOST WEEKEND (1945) nevertheless claimed the Academy Award for Best Picture. By the end of the decade, Wilder dared even to paint a portrait of Hollywood stardom gone awry in Sunset Boulevard (1950). Each of these films is an undisputed classic today, but even at the time, his films were lauded. Six of his screenplays were nominated for Oscars between 1941-1950. Three of his eight Best Director nominations also came during this period. Billy Wilder claimed the American Dream; he was successfully playing by his own rules. By the end of the '50s, as censorship guidelines were easing, Wilder's projects became even more daring. Sex was central to Wilder's world and Hollywood celebrated his candor. He directed Marilyn Monroe in two of her most sensuous roles, The Seven Year Itch (1955) and SOME LIKE IT HOT(1959). More often than not, Wilder liked pointing his finger at the hyprocrisy of people's sexual mores. In THE APARTMENT(1960), Wilder took an incisive look at corrupt businessmen exploiting their employees for sexual favors. In IRMA LA DOUCE (1963), the world of a Parisian prostitute was lovingly painted in Technicolor tones. In Kiss Me, Stupid (1964), Wilder finally stepped over the line with the story of a struggling composer willing to offer his wife to sell a song.The film, which seems so innocent today, was scandalous in its own day. Critics called Kiss Me, Stupid pornographic smut and buried the picture. Audiences ignored it. Today, the film is a risque farce with great performances by Dean Martin and Kim Novak. The critical lambast deeply affected Wilder; this would be his last sex comedy. In 1966 Wilder brought together the dynamic combination of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau with THE FORTUNE COOKIE. Director and stars teamed again for The Front Page (1974), a remake of the newspaper classic; and Buddy, Buddy (1981), the story of an assassin and a sad sack ready to commit suicide. Wilder's many years in Hollywood produced an amazing string of hits. From sarcastic and cynical social commentary to outrageous sex farce, Wilder pushed his audiences to look at their own values and morals. He was an outsider who wasn't afraid to point out the follies of his fellow man or the worst aspects of American culture. He will be sorely missed. By Jeremy Geltzer

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter December 1, 1981

Released in United States Winter December 1, 1981