William Wyler

William Wyler – How to Steal a Million (1966)

Based on the short story “Venus Rising” by George Bradshaw, How to Steal a Million features a rather contrived plot about a wealthy art forger (Academy Award winner Hugh Griffith, Ben Hur) and his beautiful daughter (Hepburn) who are about to be exposed as frauds after they allow one of their fake statues to be displayed in a major art exhibition. In a desperate attempt to save face, Hepburn solicits help from a dashing society burglar (Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia) to steal the statue before tests can be made to reveal its true origin. The “burglar” isn’t exactly what he appears to be, however, and as they plot their haphazard heist, the two inevitably begin to fall in love. Read More »

William Wyler – The Heiress (1949) (HD)

The Heiress is set in the late 1840s, largely in the opulent New York townhouse of Dr Austin Sloper (Ralph Richardson in his first Hollywood performance). Sloper idolises his dead wife and cruelly dismisses his doting daughter Catherine (Olivia de Havilland) as inferior in every respect: she’s awkward, plain and shy in company. In consequence, he encourages his widowed sister Lavinia Penniman (Miriam Hopkins), who has recently joined the household, to coach Catherine in the social graces. Read More »

William Wyler – The Letter (1940)

Synopsis:
William Wyler’s dark and poisonous melodrama, based on the W. Somerset Maugham novel, features Bette Davis in one of her nastiest roles. The story begins in the shimmering moonlight on a tropical Malayan rubber plantation. Shots ring out and a wounded man, Geoffrey Hammond (David Newell) staggers from a bungalow as Leslie Crosbie (Bette Davis) coldly follows him, pumping the remaining bullets into his body. She later tells her husband Robert (Herbert Marshall) that she shot Geoffrey, a mutual friend, because he was drunk and tried to take advantage of her. Robert, who owns the plantation, believes her story and hires high-powered lawyer Howard Joyce (James Stephenson) to defend her. Read More »

William Wyler – Mrs. Miniver (1942)

Synopsis:
This is the story of an English middle class family through the first years of World War II. Clem Miniver is a successful architect and his beautiful wife Kay is the anchor that keeps the family together. With two young children at home, Kay keeps busy in the quaint English village they call home. She is well-liked by everyone and the local station master has even named his new rose after her. When their son Vincent, Vin to everyone, comes home from Oxford for the summer he is immediately attracted to Carol Beldon, granddaughter of Lady Beldon. Their idyllic life is shattered in September 1939 when England is forced to declare war on Germany. Soon Vin is in the RAF and everyone has to put up with the hardship of war including blackouts and air raids. Read More »

Sam Wood & William Wyler – Raffles (1939)

Synopsis:
Man about town and First Class cricketer A.J. Raffles keeps himself solvent with daring robberies. Meeting Gwen from his schooldays and falling in love all over again, he spends the weekend with her parents, Lord and Lady Melrose. A necklace presents an irresistible temptation, but also in attendance is Scotland Yard’s finest, finally on the trail. Read More »

William Wyler – A House Divided (1931)

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In a small Pacific village, a widowed fisherman marries a girl young enough to be his daughter. Complications ensue when the new wife falls in love with her husband’s son.

Creaky but interesting melodrama powered by Walter Huston’s performance as a brute and a dynamite action ending. Although Wyler’s direction is not as sure as it would be later, it is interesting to note that, for the most accomplished studio director of all time, a man said to operate without a style of his own, a lot of images that show up in his later films (particularly WUTHERING HEIGHTS and THE LITTLE FOXES) also show up here. Read More »

William Wyler – Ben-Hur (1959)

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Synopsis by Hal Erickson
This 1959 version of Lew Wallace’s best-selling novel, which had already seen screen versions in 1907 and 1926, went on to win 11 Academy Awards. Adapted by Karl Tunberg and a raft of uncredited writers including Gore Vidal and Maxwell Anderson, the film once more recounts the tale of Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston), who lives in Judea with his family during the time that Jesus Christ was becoming known for his “radical” teachings. Ben-Hur’s childhood friend Messala (Stephen Boyd) is now an ambitious Roman tribune; when Ben-Hur refuses to help Messala round up local dissidents on behalf of the emperor, Messala pounces on the first opportunity to exact revenge on his onetime friend. Tried on a trumped-up charge of attempting to kill the provincial governor (whose head was accidentally hit by a falling tile), Ben-Hur is condemned to the Roman galleys, while his mother (Martha Scott) and sister (Cathy O’Donnell) are imprisoned. But during a sea battle, Ben-Hur saves the life of commander Quintus Arrius (Jack Hawkins), who, in gratitude, adopts Ben-Hur as his son and gives him full control over his stable of racing horses. Read More »