Before Hitchcock and Herrmann, before Herzog and Kinski, there was Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder. Despite their shared nickname, writer-producer Charles Brackett and writer-director Billy Wilder were not, in fact, the “happiest couple in Hollywood.” Actually, they disliked each other intensely, even as they collaborated on some of the most iconic films of Hollywood’s Golden Age, including Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity (from which Brackett eventually withdrew), The Lost Weekend, and A Foreign Affair.
Just how two men who found each other so irritating could together make such enduring contributions to cinematic history is the subject of Double Solitaire, a joint biography of a fascinating and explosive creative collaboration. In the course of making their mark on genres ranging from film noir to the screwball comedy, they achieved an almost inexplicable alchemy that highlights the paradoxical nature of shared genius. Author Donald Brackett—whose great-great-grandfather was Charles Brackett’s cousin—delves into family lore, correspondence, contemporary media reports, and all other manner of historical records to reconstruct the strange magic of Brackett & Wilder’s combustible partnership, showing how their creative tensions yielded one classic film after another, and how their entrepreneurial drive pushed against the constraints of the studio system, anticipating the independent-producer models of today.
Donald Brackett is a Vancouver-based culture critic, film curator, and journalist with an extensive history of art and literary media activity covering a diverse interdisciplinary field of interests. He is the author of several books on popular culture, among them Tumult!: The Incredible Life and Music of Tina Turner (2020), Long Slow Train: The Soul Music of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (2018), and Back to Black: Amy Winehouse's Only Masterpiece (2016), and Yoko Ono: An Artful Life (2022).