William Wyler

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William Wyler

Post by Belle » Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:42 pm

Last night's "The Directors" program was about William Wyler. I hadn't realized he started in silent film, working as assistant on quickies produced approximately once a week. There was nothing quite like that kind of apprenticeship to teach the art of cinema!! And Wyler had also worked as an assistant on the silent version of "Ben Hur" (1925, Fred Niblo) which was a remarkable film in many ways which inspired Wyler's 1959 version.

Wyler's relationship with the great Gregg Toland began in 1936 with "These Three" and culminated in his masterpiece "The Best Years of Our Lives" in 1946 - just 2 years before Toland's shockingly premature death at age 44. I also very much love Wyler's "Dodsworth", "Come and Get It" (co-directed with Hawks), "Jezebel", "Wuthering Heights" (though Olivier with his cultivated theatrical accent was risible for Heathcliff), "The Westerner", "Mrs. Miniver", "Roman Holiday", "Friendly Persuasion", "The Big Country" and "Ben Hur".

So many wonderful films and there's the humanity in them; Wyler was interested in relationships and even painting on the huge canvas of "Ben Hur" you could recognize the set pieces between characters which could easily be conveyed on a theatre stage. Intimacy meets the big screen. An unforgettable director who forged a career with great actors and cinematographers to develop a universal cinema in many genres.

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