Friday, September 16, 2005

Robert Wise 1914-2005

Director Robert Wise died of a heart attack Wednesday at the age of 91. Wise directed 39 films, the two best known of which are probably West Side Story and The Sound of Music. He had started as an editor, his best know work in editing being the movie Citizen Kane.

Robert Wise was born in Winchester, Indiana in 1914. He dropped out of college to take a job at RKO, where his brother was an accountant. He served as a sound effects editor on such films as ThThe Gay Divorcee and Top Hat. The first film he edited was Bachelor Mother in 1939. AT RKO he would edit such classic films as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Citizen Kane, and The Magnificent Ambersons. It was when he was working with producer Val Lewton that he got his first directing credits. For Lewton he directed Curse of the Cat People and The Body Snatcher. Wise would go on to direct the classic science fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still, Run Silent Run Deep, West Side Story,. The Sound of Music, The Sand Pebbles, and The Andomeda Strain.

Robert Wise was nominated for Oscars seven times. Among those nominations was his work as editor on Citizen Kane. He won the Academy Award for best director for both West Side Story and The Sound of Music. He also served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Directors Guild of America.

While Robert Wise was best known as a director, I always thought that he was at his best as an editor. His work on such films as Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and The Devil and Daniel Webster was impeccable. Arugably, I think he was one of the greatest editors Hollywood ever produced. As director Wise directed some of my favourite films. While I am not a big fan of West Side Story or The Sound of Music, I have always loved The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Andromeda Strain, and The Body Snatcher. At any rate, it is a sure thing that Wise will be remembered for his work on Citizen Kane, The Sound of Music, and West Side Story.

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