Billy & Ray tells the incredible true story of how Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler wrote the screenplay for Double Indemnity, invented film noir, and nearly killed each other in the process. Set in Hollywood in the 1940s, it’s the hilarious journey through the war of creativity between two brilliant writers who battled each other, to create a motion picture classic.
Directed by Garry Marshall, he’s a veteran producer, director, and writer of film, television, and the stage. After graduating from Northwestern University’s Medil School of Journalism, he went on to create some of television’s most beloved situation comedies, including Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, and The Odd Couple. And, Marshall has always been passionate about live theater.
In the show, the unlikely partners initially fight over every word as they attempt to make a sumptuous screenplay out of a trashy James M. Cain novel that Paramount Pictures has procured. Casual references to real Hollywood movie stars of the era lend added spice to the conversations.
Turning an explicit pulp novel into a classically suggestive film was no mean feat. This tense dramatization of the writers’ edgy partnership is so revealing you’ll probably want to stream the movie, which stars Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, and Edward G. Robinson, to revisit the innovative ways Wilder and Chandler got around puritanical censors.
This is a taut production that should soon head to Broadway.
Until next time> “never forget”