Some of the reason for the May-December theme had to do with casting, and were not originally intended. In Sabrina, the role of Linus Larrabee was originally meant for Cary Grant, so when it went to Humphrey Bogart, a man much older than Audrey Hepburn, the role took on new layers of meaning. Linus came to be seen additionally as a father figure to Hepburn's young Sabrina. Casting Gary Cooper opposite Hepburn in Love in the Afternoon yielded similar results, as did choosing the iconic Marilyn Monroe to portray what had been a more average role on the Broadway stage in The Seven Year Itch. But Dick also tries to connect this motif to a theme or motivation in Wilder's life. He notes that Wilder's age when he was working on these movies might have affected his outlook. In middle age, the theme of rejuvenation may have been of particular interest to him, and the fatherly relationships may have reflected his own love for his daughter at the time.
In Sabrina, Dick sees one father-daughter bond being replaced with another, the first biological, the second metaphorical. Dick argues that in her relationship with Linus, Sabrina re-channels the love she used to reserve for her father towards her beau. Linus provides financial security and protection for Sabrina, just as a father would. This situation is only believable because the film operates as a fairy tale, Dick says.
Grouping these films together is interesting, but from the descriptions of Love in the Afternoon and The Seven Year Itch, it doesn't seem that the films have as much in common with each other thematically (aside from romance) as Dick might have us believe. And some of what they do have in common, as Dick admits, has do with coincidences of casting. This grouping seems to serve best simply as a way for Dick to organize Wilder's many films.
Born near in a small town near Vienna, Billy Wilder would come from humble beginnings to later develop into an infamous producer, whose movies that have stood the test of time. Bernard Dick’s book observes Wilders life through a very appropriate lens, his life’s work. Each of Wilders films seems to exhibit a character or signature of sorts that only the best of directors are capable of creating. In this biography of sorts each movie is treated as a venue through which the reader can understand Wilders life, and directing/producing styles that made him capable enough to transform a mediocre screen play into a box office hit.
One impressive signature of many of Wilders movies is his ability to make the characters in the film very human despite fantastical situations and unbelievable occurrences. Chapter 7 of Bernard Dick’s book called, “The Human Comedies: Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, and Avanti!” address’ Wilders humanizing ability. In Some Like it Hot Wilder was able to make Daphne and Josephine (Joe and Jerry in drag) into relatable feminine figures despite the slapstick parody driven comedy of the plot and the insanity of their drag charade. Several pages of this chapter are centered upon looking at how Wilder uses comedy to enhance not substitute for character depth. Despite their antics Joe/Josephine and Jerry/Daphne are very human with emotional vulnerabilities, and individual personalities. One simple example the book offers reference the scene in the movie when Jerry decided that he wants his drag name to be Daphne, instead of Geraldine (an easy feminine twist to his name). The look on his face when deciding this is one of satisfaction, you see Jerry becoming comfortable in him feminine role and this makes the viewer more comfortable as well. Though this may seem simple little decisions such as this are what give the characters real personality.
As a source this book provides well thought out and researched insights into Billy Wilder’s life and movies. The bibliography is selective which leaves some vagueness regarding the credibility of some of the material. Additionally, some of the insights into the movies and their meanings seem to be opinion based and therefore more biased and less steadfast.