Transcrevo abaixo um pequeno trecho da longa entrevista que Cameron Crowe fez com Billy Wilder, posteriormente convertida em livro, Conversations with Wilder (1998).
Cameron Crowe: Buddy Buddy (1981) is one of the earliest films in a genre that has now come into its own – the hitman comedy.
Billy Wilder: [Unenthusiastic] Yeah, maybe.
CC: But in Buddy Buddy, Matthau´s hitman is the protagonist. Long before Pulp Fiction (1994) or even John Cusack´s Grosse Point Blank (1997), you and I.A.L. Diamond faced the very difficult tone challenged of basing a comedy around a hired killer.
BW: Yes. Tone is always difficult in a picture like this.
CC: What advice would you give a director attempting black comedy today?
BW: You´ve got to have talent for it. Get a good story. Buddy Buddy was not my kind of experiment, not the kind of comedy I had an affection for. I did it once. Here is the problem. The audience laughts, and then they sort of resent it. Because it´s negativity. Dead bodies and such. If you hold up a mirror too closely to this kind of behavior, they don´t like it. They don´t want to look at it. Same with me. But I would not especially call Buddy Buddy a black comedy, more like a broad comedy.
CC: Were you ever close to directing anything after Buddy Buddy?
BW: I kind of pooped out by the end of the picture. Nothing came along. Diamond then died. I wanted to quit. I wanted to quit when I was eighty. I quit when I was eighty-two.
Por Cameron Crowe
Buddy Buddy is the Godfather of a genre that would take hold years later – the hitman comedy. Walter Matthau again pairs with Jack Lemmon in this dark and frisky tale of a world-weary assassin (Matthau) and the suicidal executive (Lemmon) who complicates his job. “I take no credit for this genre”, says Wilder today. “I don´t believe in genre”. Production values are minimal here. Buddy Buddy is not the most visual of Wilder´s films – the rear projections behind many of the scenes strip it of much lyricism – but it´s lively, with an assured sense of its day. We are a long way from Ninotchka, however, when Matthau, who brings a kinetic deadpan energy to his role as a killer, tosses off surprising lines like “Are you out of your fucking mind?” Klaus Kinski appears as Dr. Zuckerbrot, a bizarre sex therapist who has entranced Paula Prentiss, playing Lemmon´s ex-wife. One can only imagine writing-room conversation that resulted in Wilder and Diamond´s first pot joke. (The play on which it is based was also made into the 1974 French film, L´Emmerdeur, released in America as Play in the A__). And yet you´re never far from reminder that you´re in the comic hands of Wilder and Diamond. Says Kinski in one memorable speech: “Premature ejaculation means always having to say you´re sorry”. The film ends on a freeze frame of Walter Matthau enjoying a cigar, facing paradise on a deserted atoll populated by gorgeous island women… and Jack Lemmon. Wilder´s last film is also a love letter to his favorite comic duo, who attack their parts with real zest.