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William Wyler radio show (1 Viewer)

DanMel

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There is a new radio interview on William Wyler on ICONS radio. It is an interview with his daughter that talks briefly about the restored print of The Big Country. Topics may not be for everyone as it talks about William Wyler not being on the list of directors taught at film schools although he is clearly the best director that ever lived. Also, not an interview for a John Ford/John Wayne die hards. For example they talk about the superiority of The Westerner to Stage Coach ect,. Anyway this is the type of radio show that I would feel very much at home with, but certainly not for everyone. The radio show host is John Mulholland and the radio show is ICONS. He recently wrote and directed the new High Noon documentary. Anyway I consider Wyler to be the best director to ever live when looking at his complete body of work of which I own most of on dvd.

Icons Radio Interview with Catherine Wyler on her father director William Wyler
 

oscar_merkx

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Thanks for the link.

I am a die hard fan of John Ford which is why I was intrigued by your comment.

I will report back when I have had a chance to listen
 

Simon Howson

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I can't talk about 'film schools', but I can assure others that Wyler gets a good airing in academic film studies. He was first championed by Andre Bazin, and other Cahiers du Cinema critics for his use of deep focus. In fact Bazin compares him favourably with Welles as the best proponent of the deep focus style.

If Wyler isn't taught in film schools then it is probably because he often tried to omit cuts by careful staging and camera placement. Omitting cuts, and an emphasis on complex staging unfortunately aren't dominant trends of contemporary Hollywood cinema! Sadly, Wyler's style is just considered old fashioned, when it is actually some of the best filmmaking Hollywood produced. Having said that, I don't think that undisputedly makes him the best filmmaker of all time. He is just a very good one, along with a lot of the other really good filmmakers.

I agree that The Westerner is a better film than Stage Coach, but that doesn't exactly mean Ford was a bad filmmaker who can't be revered as well. They both deserve to be in the upper echelon of world filmmakers. It is just the genius of the Hollywood system that they happened to work in the same industry at the same time.
 

Robin9

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I too think there is no one best film director of all time. Wyler's position as one of the very best cannot be sensibly denied. That many people who write about movies don't give William Wyler due credit is lamentable but not especially surprising because there is a great deal of fashion following among people who profess to have a scholarly approach to movies.
 

John Hodson

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I bristle ever so slightly at the implication of the original post, and forgive me if I've misread you DanMel, but it's total tosh to suggest that if one admires director / star (a), then it's simply beyond ones capacity to admire director / star (b).

I'm a firm fan of both The Westerner and Stagecoach, Wyler and Ford, Cooper and Wayne; I can't see why anyone could not be?
 

Simon Howson

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Most film critics aren't interested in style, which was one of Wyler's major concerns. So it isn't surprising that many critics don't see Wyler's significance, because they aren't sensitive to what he was trying to do.

In contrast, all of the French critics around Cahiers, and especially Bazin, were keenly interested in how filmmakers differentiate themselves via style. Hence they championed Wyler because they could see what he was trying to do with the use of deep focus and complex staging. The French were writing laudatory essays about him in the mid 1940s. Probably the most famous essay is Bazin's "William Wyler, or the Jansenist of Directing", written in 1948.

Sadly, many American critics didn't - and still don't - realise the capability of the artists working in Hollywood; it took a bunch of outsiders to comprehend the significance of what the best Hollywood directors were doing.

This snobbery still persists. Recently I read in Foster Hirsch's book on Otto Preminger that Preminger's family don't consider him a particularly good director, they simply think he was an extremely talented producer who knew what sort of stories would make good films. This is hilarious because amongst academics interested in film style, Preminger - along with Minnelli - is revered as one of the best long take, and widescreen directors ever to work. But for people not interested in film style (i.e. most people) it seems to be easy to completely dismiss the directing skills of some of the best filmmakers of all time.

Another problem may be the fact Wyler was a master at whatever he touched. Ford is primarily associated with a genre - Westerns. Hitchcock is recognised for the use of suspense, Billy Wilder is most noted for comedies and use of snappy dialogue. Of course all these are comical generalisations that don't do any of those filmmakers justice. But Wyler was a jack of all trades who can't really be pigeonholed. This makes it hard for mainstream critics to come up with a pithy summary of what is good about "Wyler", so instead they just don't talk about him at all.

I think the answer is that he always seemed interested in stylistic experimentation, especially the use of staging in depth. But that is a difficult summary to make for people that aren't interested in the choices directors need to make when lining up a shot.
 

Robin9

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A very good point and, sadly, valid also about other excellent directors who worked with a variety of material: John Huston, Michael Curtiz, Robert Wise to name the most prominent examples.
 

DanMel

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John Hodson,

I think you are reading too far into my post. I never stated that John Ford was not a good director and that he didn't make good movies. With all the posts that go around here and other places with people stating that John Ford was the best director period with no one to compare, I thought I would post a link on some film experts that do not agree. John Ford would rank probably 4 or 5 on my personal list for western directors below Fred Zimmerman, Henry Hathaway, Howard Hawks and William Wyler for sure. I did just watch The Searchers and Rio Bravo back to back on Blu-ray before my original post and while The Searchers had more scenic beauty (how could you not where that movie was filmed), I enjoyed Rio Bravo and many other none Ford westerns better such as True Grit for one if you want to go with John Wayne.

So William Wyler is certainly as capable of a film director as John Ford and better if you think like me that William Wyler had better screen writers and stories to work with. Some of the John Ford movies I have watched have not impressed me all that much for the story. With his so called two best in The Searchers and How Green was my Valley, I did not not like either one of them but the Searchers was certainly a great deal better than that Irish movie, which would rank at the very bottom of my list for one of the worst films ever made.
 

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