William Wyler, Hollywood's Finest Director?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by DeeF, Jan 14, 2005.

  1. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    ...just asking the question. I've started a new thread/list about Wyler, since I've added so many of his movies to my collection in the last few months. The Letter and Carrie are the latest additions.

    Here's my collection of Wyler films, in reverse chronological order like IMDB:

    Funny Girl (1968 )
    How to Steal a Million (1966) (perhaps the worst of these)
    The Collector (1965)
    The Children's Hour (1961)
    Ben-Hur (1959)
    The Big Country (1958 ) (the second worst)
    Friendly Persuasion (1956)
    Roman Holiday (1953)
    Carrie (1952)
    The Heiress (1949) (from TCM) (a masterpiece)
    The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) (my particular favorite)
    Mrs. Miniver (1942)
    The Little Foxes (1941)
    The Letter (1940)
    The Westerner (1940) (from TCM)
    Wuthering Heights (1939) (from TCM)
    Jezebel (1938 )
    Dead End (1937) (from TCM)
    Dodsworth (1936)
    These Three (1936) (video)
    Counsellor at Law (1933) (from TCM)

    It's a pretty good overview of his sound movies, though there are a lot of silents missing. Prominent sound movies missing include Desperate Hours (1955) and Detective Story (1951).
     
  2. Matt Butler

    Matt Butler Screenwriter

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    I liked How to Steal a Million! [​IMG]

    I still need the DVD.
     
  3. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    Steven Spielberg holds him in high regard, particularly his ability to shift gears and work in multiple genres.
     
  4. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    It isn't a bad movie, Matt, sorry to imply that. It's very light though, and as a light comedy, it isn't terribly funny or memorable. Roman Holiday is better by far.

    The Wyler movie that comes out this week is Carrie, with Laurence Olivier and Jennifer Jones. It's based on the Dreiser novel, and might be Olivier's greatest screen performance.
     
  5. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    I like a lot of his films especially, Dodsworth. Its nice to see a thread like this remember a great director such as William Wyler and his works.

    ~Edwin
     
  6. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    I'm not sure why I think of him as the greatest director. He wasn't liked by many people. He doesn't have a single movie with the caché of Citizen Kane, or even Gone with the Wind. He wasn't an auteur that had a recognizable style.

    And yet, look at that list. Nearly every film is memorable, an amazing collection of "hits." And they're all so different. He could make plays into movies better than anyone else (Dead End, The Little Foxes, The Heiress), turn complex novels into wonderful complex movies (Dodsworth, Wuthering Heights), do charming light comedy (Roman Holiday) and heart-stopping thrillers (Desperate Hours), and often made successes out of his own exercises, like the best "epic," Ben-Hur, and a musical, Funny Girl, successful in its time where all other musicals were failures.

    Wyler was simply the champion Hollywood studio director for genre films, bar none.
     
  7. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    BEN-HUR (1959) often gets my vote as the Best Film Ever Made. It's brilliant, frame after frame after frame.
     
  8. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    .
     
  9. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Here's Glenn Erickson, the DVD Savant, on The Little Foxes. I quote this here because I hardly could have put it better (hope this is copasetic):

     
  10. Julian Lalor

    Julian Lalor Supporting Actor

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    No, that would be Howard Hawks. Hawks covered every genre, and did them all brilliantly. Wyler's work tends to bombast, particularly as he got older (The Children's Hour is, simply, terrible, particularly in light of These Three). He also wasn't very good at comedy.
     
  11. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    Julian, I'm also standing up for Hawks over at DeeF's own forum. [​IMG] Though I do think very highly of Wyler as well.
     
  12. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    I set myself up for this. Hawks is great too. But Hawks has plenty of clinkers. Land of the Pharoahs, anyone? The Children's Hour isn't as good as These Three, but it isn't terrible, just perhaps already dated.

    And Hawks never made a movie with the psychological nuances of The Little Foxes, The Heiress, Carrie, etc. I also think Wyler has a cinematic edge, working with Gregg Toland.

    But, as I said, they're both great directors. Wyler has been underrated, lately, which is why I thought to start a thread on him.
     
  13. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I love Hawks and he is one of my favorite directors as is Wyler.

    Yes, working with Toland was an advantage for Wyler.
     
  14. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    Wyler does deserve his props. Hawks gets a lot of praise these days, Tarantino being perhaps his most notable champion, but Wyler is one of those greats who maybe tends to get lost in the shuffle.
     
  15. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    It's kind of hard for a guy to get lost in a shuffle when he has 12 AA nominations as Best Director alone while winning 3 Oscars. His resume has some of the best films ever made and those that count will never forget his film legacy.
     
  16. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    Well, yeah, I didn't mean that nobody knows who he is anymore, just that he isn't always one of the first names that comes up when people list the great classic directors. Not exactly overlooked, to be sure.
     
  17. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Ooh, I'm feeling like I'm one of "those that count."

    [​IMG]

    Partly the reason that I started this thread is because I've added 3 commercial DVDs to my collection in the last month (The Letter, Carrie, and How To Steal A Million) and I've recorded 5 more off of television.

    My collection of Wyler is pretty full. My collection of other great genre directors is far smaller.

    Here's what I have of Hawks:

    Rio Lobo (1970)
    El Dorado (1966)
    Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
    The Thing From Another World (1951) (uncredited)
    I Was a Male War Bride (1949)
    Red River (1948)
    To Have and Have Not (1944)
    Ball of Fire (1941)
    His Girl Friday (1940)
     
  18. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    I'm with Haggai. Of course he's not forgotten, but he's also essentially unknown to the general public. They know names like Hitchcock and Spielberg, and even David Lean and Kubrick to a lesser degree. The average person will know WW's work to some extent, but he's not particularly famous outside of film buff parameters.

    It's shocking to realize that WW has BY FAR the most Best Director nominations. That's a good trivia question that few folks will get!
     
  19. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    He may not be the finest director but he sure made the finest film, Ben-Hur(1959), IMO of course.[​IMG]
     
  20. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    The same could be said about Capra, Hawks and Stevens.






    Crawdaddy
     

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