(1978)3Aubry Anne D'ArminioBilly Wilder's Fedora was meant to be an incisive film about Hollywood's love of youth, but it turned out to be proof of it. By the movie's release in 1978, the 73-year-old Wilder had been eclipsed by the people that Fedora's hero calls "kids with beards" -- young filmmakers like Spielberg, Coppola, Altman, Scorsese, Lucas, and Malick. Despite rave reviews from venerable movie critics Janet Maslin and Vincent Canby, Fedora suffered a short, unremarkable theatrical run. Those who did see the film are rumored to have snickered during the movie's dramatic scenes, amused by both the title character's desperation to remain a popular star and by Wilder's faltering 50-year career. Yet, while Fedora does feel anachronistic when viewed with its contemporaries -- Jaws, The Godfather Part II, Nashville, Taxi Driver, Star Wars, and Days of Heaven -- its mature tale teaches a human understanding that the "kids with beards" had not yet learned. Fedora knows that show business is prone to disappoint the natural human desire to always be needed. Hollywood discards people and styles as they age, rendering them almost useless. The character of Fedora attempts to evade this process. Starring an aged William Holden (a player in several of the director's earlier pictures) and filmed in a sweeping classical style, the film itself attempts to defy this truth. In the end, they both failed.