William Wyler

"Although William Wyler's credits extend officially from 1926 to 1970, his period of pre-eminence was between 1936 (Dodsworth) and 1946 (The Best Years of Our Lives). Orson Welles has called Wyler, not inaptly, the great producer among directors; that is to say, the masterly selector of shots, the compleat angler of the most gripping camera angles." - Andrew Sarris (Cinema: A Critical Dictionary, 1980)

William Wyler

Director / Producer
(1902-1981) Born July 1, Mülhausen, Alsace, Germany (now Mulhouse, Haut-Rhin, France)
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Drama, Family Drama, Melodrama, Romantic Drama, Romantic Comedy, Romance, Psychological Drama, Epic, War Drama, Crime Drama, Thriller, Period Film
Key Collaborators: Robert Swink (Editor), Daniel Mandell (Editor), Samuel Goldwyn (Producer), Gregg Toland (Cinematographer), Alfred Newman (Composer), Miriam Hopkins (Leading Actress), Hal Pereira (Production Designer), Bette Davis (Leading Actress), Audrey Hepburn (Leading Actress), Herbert Marshall (Leading Actor), Teresa Wright (Leading Actress), Lillian Hellman (Screenwriter)

"There was a time when William Wyler was hailed as one of the finest of all directors, praised for his use of deep-focus cinematography and long, unbroken takes. Today his reputation has declined - a filmmaker dethroned by critical fashion, damned for those very qualities for which he was once lauded. His restraint has come to be seen as impersonality, his good taste as complacency, his seriousness as pomposity, his technical skill and lucidity as bland... Whatever the genre or the scale, Wyler never brought to any of his films less than impeccable craftsmanship." - Philip Kemp (501 Movie Directors, 2007)
"While there's no denying Wyler's expertise with actors or his ability to make the most out of a scene's topography in terms of the characters' emotional and psychological proximity to or distance from one another, his work could seem passionless and schematic... Whether working in historical or domestic drama, crime films or westerns, Wyler simply set about telling a story elegantly and sensitively, though in later epics like The Big Country and Ben-Hur, not to mention the musical Funny Girl, his solemnity merely seemed stolid and overblown." - Geoff Andrew (The Director's Vision, 1999)
"Wyler's films, although in recent times they have undergone critical devaluation, are full of ringing, decisive and memorable emotional moments, and sharply etched acting performances. Most of the public, too, liked what they were seeing: it was crafted for their benefit with such care and attention to detail that the director at one time became known as '90-Take Wyler' for the number of times he would re-shoot his scenes to get exactly the right effect." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Illustrated Guide to Film Directors, 1999)
"During the last decades of Wyler's career, many of the director's gifts, which flourished in contexts of extreme dramatic tension and the exigencies of studio shooting, were dissipated in excessively grandiose properties and "locations." There were, however, exceptions. Wyler's presence is strongly felt in the narrow staircase of The Heiress and the dingy station house of Detective Story." - Charles Affron (The St. James Film Directors Encyclopedia, 1998)
"From 1936 onwards, he made sturdy, tasteful, smooth, respectable, quality entertainments that generally won Oscars... Gregg Toland's camerawork, especially his deep-focus photography, gave Wyler's films a definition they might not have had." - Ronald Bergan (A-Z of Movie Directors, 1983)
"Much of Wyler's work is centered on characters who are severely repressed, then give themselves over to their passions (Dodsworth, 36; The Letter, 40; The Collector, 65). The cause and effect are usually examined by the director, a fact which accounts for the high quality of Wyler's pulsating melodramas. In the course of his films, there are invariably images which brilliantly summarize a relationship or a moment." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
"I'm here to make good pictures. If I don't see it, I won't touch it. I may not make a good picture, but I still gotta believe in it!" - William Wyler
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Dodsworth (1936), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) , Detective Story (1951)
Recommended
These Three (1936), Dead End (1937), Jezebel (1938), The Wuthering Heights (1939), The Letter (1940), The Little Foxes (1941), Roman Holiday (1953) , The Desperate Hours (1955)
Worth a Look
The Good Fairy (1935), Come and Get It (1936) [co-directed by Howard Hawks], The Westerner (1940), Mrs. Miniver (1942), The Heiress (1949), Carrie (1952), Friendly Persuasion (1956), Ben-Hur (1959) , The Collector (1965), How to Steal a Million (1966)
Approach with Caution
The Big Country (1958), The Children's Hour (1962), Funny Girl (1968)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    These Three
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