Archive for May 13, 2010

Swing High

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on May 13, 2010 by dcairns

My editor may be tramping along the Croisette in Cannes right now, but he still brings you this week’s The Forgotten, over at The Auteurs’ Notebook. Answering, among other unasked questions, what was Joel Grey up to in between CABARET and REMO: UNARMED AND DANGEROUS?

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Film Directors with Their Shirts and Trousers Off

Posted in FILM with tags , on May 13, 2010 by dcairns

William Wyler.

Wyler was quite the man of action — “A great man for a high ledge,” as John Huston reminisces in the excellent documentary DIRECTED BY WILLIAM WYLER. Wyler himself appears chirpy and pixie-like in interview, unrecognizable from the many stories of on-set meanness which we have to accept as a more truthful picture of his filmmaking temperament. He also appears full of life — and yet, a few days after the interview was shot, he stopped breathing, and never took it up again.

I resisted looking at WW’s films for years, based on his Oscar-winning status, which usually implies turgidity and mediocrity, and based on the stories I’d read of his sonofabitchiness. Now I love his films, and even sneakingly admire his nastier side, which was honestly concentrated on getting good results from his actors (and it worked), even though I deplore cruelty, and Wyler could certainly be very cruel. He did do it with a kind of wit, though.

What I learned from Wyler is tenacity, although it’s doubtful I or anyone else could bear to do as many takes as he did, not to get choices or coverage, but just in pursuit of the right moment for the film at hand. He was indefatigable and merciless, two valuable traits in the screen trade.