Archive for William Wyler

The Sunday Intertitle: Burning Blue Soul

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on March 5, 2017 by dcairns

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-12h10m58s060

Finally watched all of William Wyler’s THE STOLEN RANCH, which I mentioned a while back.

Wyler’s claim that, during his days churning out B-westerns, he spent sleepless nights trying to think up new ways of showing a man getting on and off a horse, is borne out slightly by this one — particularly when the hero mounts his steed with an impressive sideways leap that almost topples the poor creature ~

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-11h46m00s717

The story is pretty childish, dependent on the villains conducting all their covert business in a room adjoining the kitchen where they KNOW the hero works. Everything is overheard, and without the need for a “wire tapp.”

Faced with such generic and fatuous material, and probably a pretty tight schedule, Wyler does pull off a few nice angles, particularly when he makes use of the actors’ dorsal views — it’s something he continued to exploit in later films — CARRIE springs to mind (not the Spacek) where he exploits Olivier’s ability to express strong emotion with his back to the camera. The intense relationship between two men which SHOULD be at the heart of the story is swiftly diverted by the addition of twin romantic interests (and the obligatory, unconvincing misunderstanding), but not before we’ve had this ~

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-12h32m35s681

vlcsnap-2017-03-05-12h31m48s154

Advertisements

The Sunday Intertitle: Home and Deranged

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on February 12, 2017 by dcairns

vlcsnap-2017-02-12-12h04m04s663

William Wyler, strangely for an acclaimed, Oscar-winning, AFI-certified master director (albeit one with shaky standing among highbrow cinephiles), suffers from a peculiar neglect of his early work. he cut his teeth doing tiny westerns, like Ford, but while Ford’s shorts are at least the object of some cinephile interest, and ripples of excitement are felt whenever one is rediscovered, Wyler’s juvenilia seems to inspire little curiosity and in any case there is no way to slake any if you have some.

“I used to lie awake at night trying to think of new ways to photograph a man getting off a horse,” recalled Wyler, who had been known as Worthless Willie, a Laemmle relative who had been handed a studio job based on genetics rather than merit, and made little splash apart from when he drove his motorbike off a friend’s diving board as a lark. His brother Robert was considered the promising one.

vlcsnap-2017-02-12-12h03m55s130

Somewhere in between starting out on his sagebrush hackwork and making 1929’s THE SHAKEDOWN, the only pure silent of his I’ve been able to see, Wyler got good. The same year he made part-talkies THE LOVE TRAP and HELL’S HEROES, which are very good, once you get over the whole part-talkie thing. So the whole “learning his craft” part of the Wyler oeuvre is MIA. It might be very interesting, or totally uninteresting, but we don’t know until we see it, or at least until some reliable person sees it and reports back in detail.

vlcsnap-2017-02-12-12h04m52s001

So I was chuffed to obtain THE STOLEN RANCH from 1926 — and then surprised to find it’s not a two-reel western but a fairly substantial piece of work, opening as it does in WWI — not a WINGS-scale super-epic version, admittedly, but a comparatively modest evocation of trench warfare with a few shell-bursts and squibs. We meet leading man Fred Humes (me neither) and his buddy, who has a breakdown under the strain, and then we flash forward to an unspecified postwar world, roughly contemporaneous…

A train passes and Fred covers his friend’s ears so he won’t be startled by the whistle — he still has shell-shock, we surmise. And Fred’s tenderness is touching. I’m immediately gripped. I want to know what happens to these fellows. I’ll let you know.

A Prophecy

Posted in FILM with tags , , on July 20, 2016 by dcairns

vlcsnap-2016-07-20-18h36m15s916

“The world’s open for people like you and me. There’s thousands of us all over the world. We’ll own this country some day: they won’t try to stop us.”

THE LITTLE FOXES.