The William Wyler Film Poll

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(I omitted the silent films.)

David Thomson and Andrew Sarris (initially) didn't rate him highly, and there's lots of duds (Mrs Miniver is a horror), but the Bette Davis sequence and The Best Years of Our Lives and Carrieare really fine.

My vote: The Heiress.

Poll Results

OptionVotes
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) 4
The Heiress (1949) 3
The Letter (1940) 1
The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944) 1
Roman Holiday (1953) 1
The Desperate Hours (1955) 1
The Good Fairy (1935) 1
Funny Girl (1968) 1
Friendly Persuasion (1956) 0
Mrs. Miniver (1942) 0
How to Steal a Million (1966) 0
Thunderbolt (1947) 0
The Collector (1965) 0
Detective Story (1951) 0
Carrie (1952) (based on Theodore Dreiser's novel Sister Carrie) 0
The Children's Hour (1961) 0
Ben-Hur (1959) 0
The Big Country (1958) 0
The Little Foxes (1941) 0
The Love Trap (1929) 0
Hell's Heroes (1930) 0
The Storm (1930) 0
A House Divided (1931) 0
Tom Brown of Culver (1932) 0
Her First Mate (1933) 0
Counsellor at Law (1933) 0
Glamour (1934) 0
The Gay Deception (1935) 0
Barbary Coast (1935) (uncredited; replaced by Howard Hawks) 0
These Three (1936) 0
Dodsworth (1936) 0
Come and Get It (1936) 0
Dead End (1937) 0
Jezebel (1938) 0
Wuthering Heights (1939) 0
The Westerner (1940) 0
The Liberation of L.B. Jones (1970)0


Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Friday, 16 May 2008 03:20 (twelve years ago) link

er, mods: move to ILE.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Friday, 16 May 2008 00:09 (twelve years ago) link

You just wanted to have a poll with Carrie in it to go with the De Palma poll, didn't you? It's ok to admit it.

Oilyrags, Friday, 16 May 2008 00:10 (twelve years ago) link

Which is why I need MODS to move this, please.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Friday, 16 May 2008 02:27 (twelve years ago) link

TBYOOL

James Redd and the Blecchs, Friday, 16 May 2008 03:12 (twelve years ago) link

ditto, though I guess I might be inclined to like The Little Foxes.

Eric H., Friday, 16 May 2008 03:53 (twelve years ago) link

I've only seen Mrs. Miniver. Which is indeed terrible.

abanana, Friday, 16 May 2008 03:55 (twelve years ago) link

I haven't seen TBYOOL in awhile. Instinct is to go w/ The Letter, tho I like a lot of these 1933-52 (among the earlies, Counsellor at Law, The Good Fairy and Dead End).

Dr Morbius, Friday, 16 May 2008 13:16 (twelve years ago) link

anyone seen The Collector?

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Friday, 16 May 2008 13:22 (twelve years ago) link

yes, it's good. Stamp much creepier than as Zod or in Teorema.

Dr Morbius, Friday, 16 May 2008 13:27 (twelve years ago) link

Did I ever tell you my story about when Terence Stamp introduced Poor Cow at BAM, Morbius?

James Redd and the Blecchs, Friday, 16 May 2008 13:31 (twelve years ago) link

i dont think so.

Wyler's Carrie is playing this weekend at Reade's Jennifer Jones fest.

Dr Morbius, Friday, 16 May 2008 13:39 (twelve years ago) link

Check it out – Larry Olivier's best performance.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Friday, 16 May 2008 13:39 (twelve years ago) link

oh – if you haven't seen Cluny Brown, by all means do so.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Friday, 16 May 2008 13:40 (twelve years ago) link

seen em both!

Dr Morbius, Friday, 16 May 2008 13:42 (twelve years ago) link

He said he had just bought a new Rolls Royce, a special color that looked black but was really green, called Rolls Royce Green. His producer told him "Terry, perhaps you shouldn't come to work in your Roller. The director is a bit left wing, he might be a bit upset if you showed up for work in your Roller."

James Redd and the Blecchs, Friday, 16 May 2008 13:43 (twelve years ago) link

Did I miss all the great auteur polls? Not a big fan of this guy. Even coupled with a genius like Sturges, he tripped up something like The Good Fairy (whereas, by contrast, the underrated Mitchell Leisen soared with the Sturges-scripted Easy Living). I'm going with The Letter for arguably the greatest opening in classical Hollywood cinema. Great final line too.

Kevin John Bozelka, Friday, 16 May 2008 20:18 (twelve years ago) link

TBYOOL, but 'The Heiress' is really quite good. I don't know whose fault it was but they really messed up Maugham's story in 'The Letter' with the ending, in this version at least. It's not to say I didn't like the film, but my loyalties were already with the short story.

Michael White, Friday, 16 May 2008 20:35 (twelve years ago) link

The Good Fairy was such a disappointment considering that cast!

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Friday, 16 May 2008 21:24 (twelve years ago) link

The Little Foxes is the only one of the Bette Davis trilogy that's meh.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Friday, 16 May 2008 21:25 (twelve years ago) link

The Good Fairy is my pick. Considering that cast? I haven't liked Herbert Marshall better in anything else.

Second pick: Roman Holiday (typical).

bamcquern, Saturday, 17 May 2008 04:09 (twelve years ago) link

i don't rate him that highly, but i did think Carrie was quite good, and These Three is worth a look despite having to nix the lesbo theme, and it has one of the great evil child performances ever

gershy, Saturday, 17 May 2008 05:00 (twelve years ago) link

Actually, on one level, These Three is more lesbo than The Children's Hour. Patty White has a brilliant chapter on this in her book Uninvited: Classical Hollywood Cinema and Lesbian Representability (which I strongly recommend - it contains THE best analysis of All About Eve I've ever read...and laugh out loud hilarious too!). Anyhoo, she looks at Production Code records and comes to some really intriguing conclusions.

I haven't liked Herbert Marshall better in anything else.

Gawd, I could think of tons with Trouble in Paradise and my beloved Angel Face at the top.

Kevin John Bozelka, Saturday, 17 May 2008 05:45 (twelve years ago) link

have to see more of his films.. (anyone got a torrent for "Dead End" ;) ;) )

The Best Years Of Our Lives is absolutely magical :)

Ludo, Saturday, 17 May 2008 09:28 (twelve years ago) link

scroo torrents!

Dr Morbius, Saturday, 17 May 2008 16:23 (twelve years ago) link

I voted for The Heiress even though it's been ages since I saw it. This guy seriously directed so many great movies: Dodsworth, Best Years of Our Lives, Little Foxes

Joe, Saturday, 17 May 2008 21:35 (twelve years ago) link

Wasn't his nickname "One hundred-take Wyler"? And he wouldn't give the actors any clue what he was looking for when he would re-take...

Joe, Saturday, 17 May 2008 21:36 (twelve years ago) link

Oh, I forgot about Trouble in Paradise. Lubitsch is tops.

bamcquern, Sunday, 18 May 2008 04:54 (twelve years ago) link

"And waiter."

"Yes, baron?"

"I don't want to see you at all."

Michael White, Sunday, 18 May 2008 18:53 (twelve years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

ILX System, Wednesday, 21 May 2008 23:01 (twelve years ago) link

No one's defending Ben-Hur, I see.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Wednesday, 21 May 2008 23:04 (twelve years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

ILX System, Thursday, 22 May 2008 23:01 (twelve years ago) link

Pathetic.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Thursday, 22 May 2008 23:13 (twelve years ago) link

Funny Girl? who's the Babs fan?

Dr Morbius, Friday, 23 May 2008 13:18 (twelve years ago) link

four months pass...

Manny Farber on Best Years:

"a horse-drawn truckload of liberal schmaltz"

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 23 September 2008 20:02 (eleven years ago) link

Club Havana calls TBYOOL the most overrated movie of 1946.

Eric H., Tuesday, 23 September 2008 20:03 (eleven years ago) link

Again, they're wrong.

Eric H., Tuesday, 23 September 2008 20:05 (eleven years ago) link

I can't wait for the DVD release of Renoir's Chambermaid.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 23 September 2008 20:06 (eleven years ago) link

xp: along w/ Great Expectations, Shoeshine and The Killers!?! What a maroon.

I'd say Detour is more overrated than all those...

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 23 September 2008 20:08 (eleven years ago) link

one year passes...

wft this poll with its 13 voters.

Counsellor at Law is so good: the sets, the acting, the camera and the use/illusion of space, even the sound.

Herbert Marshall doing some kind of kitsch in The Letter. Not that he was bad, but his underplaying the role backfires; he recedes from the screen.

bamcquern, Saturday, 10 April 2010 04:45 (ten years ago) link

I agree. James Stephenson is scary-good though.

Throwing Muses are reuniting for my next orgasm! (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 10 April 2010 11:55 (ten years ago) link

been watching so much Wyler lately he's muscled his way into my all-time favorites. Counsellor at Law was oddly the first thing i saw that started all this. One of the sharpest, fastest high-flying comedies of the pre-code era.

will get to The Collector, Desperate Hours, and uhh TBYOOL soon.

Cosmo Vitelli, Saturday, 10 April 2010 17:15 (ten years ago) link

Detective Story is decent.

abanana, Saturday, 10 April 2010 19:22 (ten years ago) link

Herbert Marshall doing some kind of kitsch in The Letter. Not that he was bad, but his underplaying the role backfires; he recedes from the screen.
Herbert Marshall is always kind of a milquetoast. Has he ever been otherwise?

A Century Of Elvin (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 11 April 2010 22:14 (ten years ago) link

Actually, I take that back, I liked him in Hitchcock's Murder!.

A Century Of Elvin (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 11 April 2010 22:16 (ten years ago) link

He's way not a milquetoast in Trouble in Paradise as (sorta) noted above. And he's more a repulsive leech than a milquetoast in Angel Face. Kinda not one in Foreign Correspondent too. Also, milquetoasts can be likable.

Kevin John Bozelka, Sunday, 11 April 2010 22:40 (ten years ago) link

like max

velko, Sunday, 11 April 2010 22:42 (ten years ago) link

he's quite sexy in Trouble in Paradise.

Throwing Muses are reuniting for my next orgasm! (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 11 April 2010 22:56 (ten years ago) link

Looks like the guy was married five times!

A Century Of Elvin (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 11 April 2010 23:18 (ten years ago) link

max?

Throwing Muses are reuniting for my next orgasm! (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 11 April 2010 23:22 (ten years ago) link

Are you imitating Tony Roberts in Annie Hall, Alfred?

A Century Of Elvin (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 11 April 2010 23:48 (ten years ago) link

three years pass...

so apparently Warners has screwed up the cropping on The Best Years of Our Lives BR?

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/dvdcompare/bestyearsofourlives.htm

http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/2013/10/gregg-tolands-ghost-is-pissed-off/

eclectic husbandry (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 31 October 2013 15:04 (six years ago) link

ok, carry on.

eclectic husbandry (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 31 October 2013 16:19 (six years ago) link

seven months pass...

Saw this doc the other night (not sure if I had before), intro'd by Mark Harris re his Five Came Back WW2-Hollywood book. Some amazing footage, apparently no fakery as with some contemporaneous efforts (like Huston's gritty, recreated San Pietro). One of Wyler's cameramen died on a bombing run. WW was unhappy about the inclusion of Their Royal Majesties near the end, partly cuz the Queen just wanted to talk to him about Mrs Miniver.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hm1_D5crgPk

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 11 June 2014 14:13 (six years ago) link

i keep forgetting you ppl don't give a shit abt anything but Best Years (which i saw again tonight)

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Friday, 13 June 2014 05:11 (six years ago) link

I screened How To Steal A Million the other week. So much fun.

Damnit Janet Weiss & The Riot Grrriel (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 13 June 2014 05:15 (six years ago) link

(xpost) Roman Holiday is my favourite romantic comedy from the '50s.

clemenza, Saturday, 14 June 2014 14:19 (six years ago) link

i keep forgetting you ppl don't give a shit abt anything but Best Years (which i saw again tonight)

― son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius)

who are you growling at now?

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 14 June 2014 14:36 (six years ago) link

whoever's around

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 14 June 2014 14:47 (six years ago) link

the solipsist quadrille

one year passes...

i just read a James Baldwin essay where he casually calls Best Years a "fantasy." I essentially agree, and it's why i consider it a pretty good film rather than a great one. (JB had no use for "socially concerned" liberal art in general.)

skateboards are the new combover (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 29 September 2015 10:50 (four years ago) link

did you finally read The Devil Finds Work?

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 29 September 2015 10:54 (four years ago) link

no, i have it though; soon. That mention (along w/ his evisceration of Carmen Jones) is in Notes of a Native Son.

skateboards are the new combover (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 29 September 2015 10:55 (four years ago) link

It's been ages since I've seen it, but is Best Years "socially concerned" liberal art? The whole thing felt like a distinctly conservative melodrama to me, what with its vilifying of the anti-war guy and all.

I'm not a huge fan of the film, by the way. Some affecting moments--almost all of them courtesy of Harold Russell--but for a piece of socially concerned art of whatever affiliation, making light of March's alcoholism always struck me as quite powerfully dickish.

The New Gay Sadness (cryptosicko), Tuesday, 29 September 2015 14:20 (four years ago) link

putting any hint of Our Boys' suffering/trauma in a '46 Hollywood film counts as a lib move, yes

skateboards are the new combover (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 29 September 2015 15:41 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

Is The Big Sleep on that list too?

Lucas With The Lydian F (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 14 August 2017 02:43 (two years ago) link

seven months pass...

I saw Detective Story a lot on TV in my teens, rewatched this morning. Like Dead End it's based on a Sidney Kingsley 'social realism' play (and just those two plays of his are remembered, for Wyler's movie versions). It's sort of a proto-Barney Miller as a tragedy, set in a NYPD detectives' room in one day, with Kirk Douglas as a Dirty Harry with a father complex at the center. Some clumsy speechifying for sure, but Wyler and the cinematographer Lee Garmes make it dynamic and dirty, and the ensemble cast has a lot of good and/or showy players -- Lee Grant as a shoplifter, Horace McMahon, William Bendix, and Joseph Wiseman as a psychotic burglar (he and his crony were gay in the Broadway version). Douglas melts down 2 or 3 times in the third act, and it's effective even if you chuckle at some of his over-the-top lines. With George Macready as an abortionist Kirk likes to beat up on.

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Monday, 26 March 2018 16:07 (two years ago) link

two weeks pass...

is Mrs. Miniver really that bad? i watched The Little Foxes tonight and it was a boring mess, i have Mrs. Miniver because i'm trying to watch everything teresa wright was in.

flappy bird, Thursday, 12 April 2018 04:38 (two years ago) link

hard to say, i liked TLF more; i mean Davis is more compelling than bleedin' Greer Garson

the ignatius rock of ignorance (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 12 April 2018 06:42 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

I'm not a huge fan of the film, by the way. Some affecting moments--almost all of them courtesy of Harold Russell--but for a piece of socially concerned art of whatever affiliation, making light of March's alcoholism always struck me as quite powerfully dickish.

― The New Gay Sadness (cryptosicko

eek, not otm. I agree with this: https://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/2017/07/the-best-years-of-our-lives/

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 2 May 2019 20:59 (one year ago) link

eight months pass...

Wuthering Heights playing in town tmrw, any good?
Saw Toland shot it

flappy bird, Monday, 20 January 2020 06:20 (five months ago) link

as long as you don't expect... the entire story

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Monday, 20 January 2020 08:34 (five months ago) link

five months pass...

The Westerner is among the best, best-looking (dp Gregg Toland) and funniest of the classic Gary Cooper westerns. His bromance with Judge Roy Bean (Walter Brennan) starts off with them waking up entangled in bed the morning after, and ends with a gunfight in an empty auditorium meant for a Lily Langtry touring show. Cooper has a S/M fistfight with Forrest Tucker that anticipates The Big Country.

Fun that it was made the same year as The Letter.

brooklyn suicide cult (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 28 June 2020 15:01 (two weeks ago) link

Think that’s about to expire from Criterion

Two Spocks Clash (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 28 June 2020 15:30 (two weeks ago) link

must be better than The Big Country, two and a half hour bore from the mid-50s with nothing going on, as if he has no idea what to do in the west

flappy bird, Tuesday, 30 June 2020 06:26 (one week ago) link

The Westerner is a crisp 100m

brooklyn suicide cult (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 30 June 2020 12:34 (one week ago) link

Watched and loved that one right after it showed on the channel.

Irritable Baal (WmC), Tuesday, 30 June 2020 13:38 (one week ago) link


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