Home Classic Movies Billy Wilder + Charles Brackett: Old Hollywood’s Top Screenwriting Team

Billy Wilder + Charles Brackett: Old Hollywood’s Top Screenwriting Team

Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett – and D.M. Marshman Jr. – collaboration: Sunset Blvd., starring Gloria Swanson and William Holden, and directed by Wilder.

Billy Wilder & Charles Brackett movies

Below is a list of movies on which Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder worked together as screenwriters, including efforts for which they did not receive screen credit.

The Wilder-Brackett screenwriting partnership lasted from 1938 to 1949. During that time, they shared two Academy Awards for their work on The Lost Weekend (1945) and, with D.M. Marshman Jr., Sunset Blvd. (1950). More detailed information further below.

Post-split years

Billy Wilder would later join forces with screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond in movies such as the classic comedy Some Like It Hot (1959), the Best Picture Oscar winner The Apartment (1960), and One Two Three (1961), notable as James Cagney’s last film (until a brief comeback in Milos Forman’s Ragtime two decades later).

Although some of these movies were quite well received, Wilder’s later efforts – which also included The Seven Year Itch (1955), with Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell; The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), with James Stewart; Love in the Afternoon (1957), with Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn; Kiss Me Stupid (1964), with Kim Novak and Dean Martin; and The Fortune Cookie (1966), with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau – generally lacked the subtlety and intellectual sophistication found in at least some of his earlier work with Brackett.

Charles Brackett, for his part, became associated with 20th Century Fox, working as a producer-screenwriter. His Fox films, though frequently popular and at times applauded by critics, were decidedly mainstream, made-to-order commercial efforts.

See also: “The Charles Brackett Diaries: Billy Wilder and the ‘Golden Age of Hollywood’: Interview with film historian and ‘Diaries’ editor Anthony Slide.”

List of Billy Wilder & Charles Brackett movies

Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938).
Director: Ernst Lubitsch.
Cast: Claudette Colbert. Gary Cooper. Edward Everett Horton. David Niven.
Screenplay: Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder. From the play by Alfred Savoir; English-language adaptation by Charlton Andrews.

That Certain Age (1938).
Director: Edward Ludwig.
Cast: Deanna Durbin. Melvyn Douglas. Jackie Cooper. Nancy Carroll. Irene Rich.
Screenplay: Bruce Manning. From an original story by F. Hugh Herbert. Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder received no screen credit for their work on That Certain Age.

Ninotchka (1939).
Director: Ernst Lubitsch.
Cast: Greta Garbo. Melvyn Douglas. Ina Claire. Bela Lugosi.
Screenplay: Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and Walter Reisch. From an original story by Melchior Lengyel.

Midnight (1939).
Director: Mitchell Leisen.
Cast: Claudette Colbert. Don Ameche. John Barrymore. Mary Astor.
Screenplay: Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder. From a story by Edwin Justus Mayer and Franz Schulz.

What a Life (1939).
Director: Theodore Reed.
Cast: Jackie Cooper. Betty Field. John Howard. Janice Logan.
Screenplay: Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder. From the play by Clifford Goldsmith.

Arise, My Love (1940).
Director: Mitchell Leisen.
Cast: Claudette Colbert. Ray Milland. Dennis O’Keefe. Walter Abel.
Screenplay: Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder. Adaptation by Jacques Théry, itself from an original story by Hans Székely and Benjamin Glazer.

French Without Tears (1940).
Director: Anthony Asquith.
Cast: Ray Milland. Ellen Drew. Janine Darcey. David Tree. Roland Culver.
Screenplay: Ian Dalrymple, Terence Rattigan, and Anatole de Grunwald. Brackett and Wilder worked on the story treatment.

Ball of Fire (1941).
Director: Howard Hawks.
Cast: Gary Cooper. Barbara Stanwyck. Oskar Homolka. Henry Travers. S.Z. Sakall.
Screenplay: Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder. From an original story by Wilder and Thomas Monroe.

Hold Back the Dawn (1941).
Director: Mitchell Leisen.
Cast: Charles Boyer. Olivia de Havilland. Paulette Goddard.
Screenplay: Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder. From Ketti Frings’ story “Memo to a Movie Producer.”

The Major and the Minor (1942).
Director: Billy Wilder.
Cast: Ginger Rogers. Ray Milland. Rita Johnson. Robert Benchley. Diana Lynn.
Screenplay: Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder. From the play by Edward Childs Carpenter, itself based on a story by Fanny Kilbourne.

Five Graves to Cairo (1943).
Director: Billy Wilder.
Associate Prod.: Charles Brackett.
Cast: Franchot Tone. Anne Baxter. Akim Tamiroff. Erich von Stroheim. Peter van Eyck.
Screenplay: Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder. From the play by Lajos Biró.

The Lost Weekend (1945).
Director: Billy Wilder.
Prod.: Charles Brackett.
Cast: Ray Milland. Jane Wyman. Phillip Terry. Howard Da Silva. Doris Dowling. Frank Faylen.
Screenplay: Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder. From the novel by Charles R. Jackson.

The Bishop’s Wife (1947).
Director: Henry Koster.
Cast: Cary Grant. Loretta Young. David Niven. Gladys Cooper. Monty Woolley. James Gleason. Elsa Lanchester.
Screenplay: Robert E. Sherwood and Leonardo Bercovici. From the novel by Robert Nathan.
Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder received no screen credit for their work on The Bishop’s Wife.

A Foreign Affair (1948).
Director: Billy Wilder.
Prod.: Charles Brackett.
Cast: Jean Arthur. Marlene Dietrich. John Lund. Millard Mitchell.
Screenplay: Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and Richard L. Breen. Adaptation by Robert Harari. From an original story by David Shaw.

The Emperor Waltz (1948).
Director: Billy Wilder.
Prod.: Charles Brackett.
Cast: Bing Crosby. Joan Fontaine. Roland Culver.
Screenplay: Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder.

Sunset Blvd. (1950).
Director: Billy Wilder.
Prod.: Charles Brackett.
Cast: William Holden. Gloria Swanson. Erich von Stroheim. Nancy Olson. Fred Clark. Cameos: Hedda Hopper. Cecil B. DeMille. Anna Q. Nilsson. Buster Keaton. H.B. Warner.
Screenplay: Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and D.M. Marshman Jr.

Oscar nominations and wins

The Billy Wilder-Charles Brackett screenwriting duo was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning twice:

  • Best Screenplay for Ninotchka (1939). With Walter Reisch.
    Winner: Sidney Howard for Gone with the Wind.
  • Best Screenplay for Hold Back the Dawn (1941).
    Winner: Sidney Buchman and Seton I. Miller for Here Comes Mr. Jordan.
  • Won Best Screenplay for The Lost Weekend (1945).
  • Best Screenplay for A Foreign Affair (1948). With Richard L. Breen.
    Winner: John Huston for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
  • Won Best Story and Screenplay for Sunset Blvd. (1950). With D.M. Marshman Jr.

Additionally, Charles Brackett – minus Billy Wilder – was shortlisted for three other Academy Awards, winning one:

  • Best Original Story for To Each His Own (1946).
    Winner: Clemence Dane for Vacation from Marriage.
  • Won Best Story and Screenplay for Titanic (1953). With Walter Reisch and Richard L. Breen.
  • Best Picture The King and I (1956).
    Winner: Around the World in 80 Days, produced by Michael Todd.
The King and I 1956 Deborah Kerr Yul BrynnerCharles Brackett produced ‘The King and I’ (1956), starring Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner.

Charles Brackett producer

In addition to some of the films listed above (see producer’s credit), Charles Brackett produced about 20 features. In the ’40s, Brackett was associated with Paramount; from 1951 to 1962, he worked at 20th Century Fox.

Below is the complete list of Charles Brackett’s credits as a producer, as found on the IMDb.

State Fair (1962).
Director: José Ferrer.
Cast: Pat Boone. Pamela Tiffin. Ann-Margret. Bobby Darin. Alice Faye. Tom Ewell.

High Time (1960).
Director: Blake Edwards.
Cast: Bing Crosby. Fabian. Tuesday Weld. Nicole Maurey.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959).
Director: Henry Levin.
Cast: James Mason. Pat Boone. Arlene Dahl. Diane Baker.

Blue Denim (1959).
Director: Philip Dunne.
Cast: Carol Lynley. Brandon De Wilde. Macdonald Carey. Marsha Hunt.

The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1959).
Director: Henry Levin.
Cast: Clifton Webb. Dorothy McGuire. Charles Coburn. Jill St. John. Ron Ely.

Ten North Frederick (1958).
Director: Philip Dunne.
Cast: Gary Cooper. Suzy Parker. Diane Varsi. Geraldine Fitzgerald. Tom Tully.

The Gift of Love (1958).
Director: Jean Negulesco.
Cast: Robert Stack. Lauren Bacall. Lorne Greene. Anne Seymour.

The Wayward Bus (1957).
Director: Victor Vicas.
Cast: Joan Collins. Jayne Mansfield. Dan Dailey. Rick Jason.

Teenage Rebel (1956).
Director: Edmund Goulding.
Cast: Ginger Rogers. Michael Rennie. Mildred Natwick. Rusty Swope.

The King and I (1956).
Director: Walter Lang.
Cast: Deborah Kerr. Yul Brynner. Rita Moreno.

D-Day the Sixth of June (1956).
Director: Henry Koster.
Cast: Robert Taylor. Dana Wynter. Richard Todd. Edmond O’Brien.

The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955).
Director: Richard Fleischer.
Cast: Ray Milland. Joan Collins. Farley Granger. Glenda Farrell. Luther Adler. Cornelia Otis Skinner.

The Virgin Queen (1955).
Director: Henry Koster.
Cast: Bette Davis. Richard Todd. Joan Collins. Jay Robinson. Herbert Marshall. Dan O’Herlihy.

Woman’s World (1954).
Director: Jean Negulesco.
Cast: Clifton Webb. June Allyson. Van Heflin. Cornel Wilde. Lauren Bacall. Fred MacMurray. Arlene Dahl.

Garden of Evil (1954).
Director: Henry Hathaway.
Cast: Gary Cooper. Susan Hayward. Richard Widmark. Cameron Mitchell. Rita Moreno. Hugh Marlowe.

Titanic (1953).
Director: Jean Negulesco.
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck. Clifton Webb. Robert Wagner. Thelma Ritter. Audrey Dalton. Brian Aherne. Richard Basehart.

Niagara (1953).
Director: Henry Hathaway.
Cast: Marilyn Monroe. Jean Peters. Joseph Cotten. Max Showalter (as Casey Adams). Denis O’Dea. Lurene Tuttle.

The Model and the Marriage Broker (1951).
Director: George Cukor.
Cast: Jeanne Crain. Scott Brady. Thelma Ritter. Michael O’Shea. Zero Mostel.

The Mating Season (1951).
Director: Mitchell Leisen.
Cast: Gene Tierney. John Lund. Thelma Ritter. Miriam Hopkins. Jan Sterling. Larry Keating.

Miss Tatlock’s Millions (1948).
Director: Richard Haydn.
Cast: John Lund. Wanda Hendrix. Barry Fitzgerald. Monty Woolley. Robert Stack. Ilka Chase.

To Each His Own (1946).
Director: Mitchell Leisen.
Cast: Olivia de Havilland. John Lund.

The Uninvited (1944). (Brackett acted as associate producer.)
Director: Lewis Allen.
Cast: Ray Milland. Gail Russell. Ruth Hussey. Donald Crisp. Cornelia Otis Skinner. Barbara Everest.

Image of Gloria Swanson and William Holden in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Blvd.: Paramount Pictures.

Titanic 1953 trailer: 20th Century Fox.

Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr The King and I (1956) image: 20th Century Fox.

Ray Milland and Jane Wyman The Lost Weekend clip: Paramount Pictures.

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