Working with a co-author gives you the opportunity to share ideas, which can prove incredibly beneficial. When you’re dealing with people who don’t care too much about their material, you have the luxury of letting the best idea win. Working together also allows people to build on each other to improve something they already thought was good at first. In conversation with The Paris Review Back in 1996, Billy Wilder spoke about his writing about the ending of “Some Like It Hot” with IAL Diamond and how they created that iconic final moment.
“[S]Sometimes you just can’t say anything when you’re writing, especially when you’re writing under pressure. Diamond and I wrote the last scene of ‘some like it hot the week before we shot it. We would come to the situation where Lemmon is trying to convince Joe B. Brown that he cannot marry him.
‘Why?’ says Brown.
‘Because I smoke!’
“That’s fine as far as I’m concerned.”
Diamond and I worked together in our room, waiting for the next line—Joe B. Brown’s answer, the last line, the curtain call—to come our way. Then I heard Diamond say, “No one is perfect.” I thought about it and said, “Well, now let’s insert ‘No one is perfect.’ But only for now.”
Even as they penned those words, they didn’t immediately think it was perfect. How could they? The writing process is a space for trial and error, and there were probably things they wrote that they thought were hilarious but fell flat when someone else heard them. It’s one thing to guess yourself writing, but guessing yourself shooting is even riskier. But Wilder and Diamond still had their doubts, even after seeing how perfect Joe E. Brown’s performance was:
“We’ve been thinking about it all week. Neither of us could come up with anything better, so we shot this set, still not entirely satisfied theaters. But we just didn’t trust him when we wrote it, we just didn’t see it. “Nobody is perfect.” The line had come too easily, just popped out.”
You’d think the people who create the greatest moments in cinema history know they’re making them at the time. But they never do. Every filmmaker has every little decision they have to make about the film totally in their own head that sometimes the stuff they made just for convenience or convenience ends up making the film. Only an audience can decide what works and what doesn’t, and they gave “Nobody’s Perfect” their resounding endorsement. Over 60 years later, that endorsement still stands.