Skip to comments.Oscar winning director Robert Wise dies
Posted on 09/15/2005 12:05:31 AM PDT by lunarbicep
LOS ANGELES -- Robert Wise, who won four Oscars as producer and director of the classic 1960s musicals "West Side Story" and "The Sound of Music," has died. He was 91.
Wise died Wednesday of heart failure after falling ill and being rushed to the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center, family friend and longtime entertainment agent Lawrence Mirisch told The Associated Press.
Mirisch said Wise had appeared in good health when he celebrated his 91st birthday Saturday.
Wise was nominated for seven Oscars, including the four he won, during a career that spanned more than 50 years. The other nominations were for editing the 1941 Orson Welles classic "Citizen Kane," directing 1958's "I Want to Live!" and producing 1966's "The Sand Pebbles," which was nominated for best picture.
More recently, he served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Directors Guild of America.
Wise directed 39 films in all, ranging from science fiction ("The Day the Earth Stood Still") to drama ("I Want to Live!") to war stories ("Run Silent Run Deep") to Westerns ("Tribute to a Bad Man").
"I'd rather do my own thing, which has been to choose projects that take me into all different kinds of genres," he once told The Associated Press. "I don't have a favorite kind of film to make. I just look for the best material I can find."
With the big-budget productions "West Side Story" and "The Sound of Music," he helped create two of the most critically acclaimed and popular musicals of all time.
"West Side Story" was the tale of "Romeo and Juliet" set in the New York City tenement slums of the early 1960s. Co-directed by Wise and Jerome Robbins, with music by Leonard Bernstein, it won 10 Academy Awards.
"The Sound of Music," which told the story of the singing von Trapp family's escape from Nazi-ruled Austria, won five Oscars. It was for many years the top-grossing film of all time.
Wise gave much of the credit for the film's success to its stars, Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.
"A big part of a director's job is done if he gets the right actors in the right roles," he once said. "That doesn't mean you don't help actors, but once we thought about Julie and Chris, we didn't seriously consider anyone else."
He also credited Orson Welles, for whom he edited "The Magnificent Ambersons" and "Citizen Kane," as a major influence, adding that the actor-director-writer was "as close to a genius as anyone I have ever met."
"Citizen Kane" was "a marvelous film to work on - well-planned and well-shot," Wise once said. It has topped many polls over the years as the best film ever made.
Wise moved up from film editor to director almost by accident when he was assigned to finish "The Curse of the Cat People" after the original director fell too far behind schedule on that 1944 film.
Pleased with his work, horror film producer Val Lewton assigned Wise to direct "The Body Snatcher" the following year.
Other films Wise directed include "The Set-Up" in 1949; "Destination Gobi" in 1952; "Executive Suite" in 1954; "Two for the Seesaw" in 1962; "The Haunting" in 1963; "The Andromeda Strain" in 1971; and "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" in 1979.
Born Sept. 10, 1914, in Winchester, Ind., Wise dropped out of college during the Depression after his brother, an accountant at RKO, helped get him a job at the studio.
He worked his way up to film editor or co-editor on such movies as "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "The Devil and Daniel Webster."
In addition to his four Oscars, Wise was awarded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, a special Oscar for sustained achievement, in 1966. He also received the Directors Guild of America's highest honor, the D.W. Griffith Award, in 1988
R.I.P. to one of the great directors.
Sci-Fi Passages ((( Ping )))
He did a great job with "West Side Story" as well. He won the best director Oscar in '61 for it (along with Jerome Robbins). The man could do all genres, that's for sure.
I will always remember Robert Wise for directing one of my favorite films, the 1962 horror classic The Haunting.
Gort, Klaatu Barada Nikto.
An excellent man................ prayers.
Superb director. My condolences.
That's quite an impressive resume. The current WhollyWeird crowd falls short.
If one wants to watch Wise's genius, try "The Haunting" (1963). Special effects? He don't need no stinking special effects to give you the willies...
Director - filmography
(2000s) (1980s) (1970s) (1960s) (1950s) (1940s)
That is some kind of resume. Several of my favorite flics...
Sorry to hear that, although he had a good long run at 91. Day the Earth Stood Still has always been my favorite film. It's amazing to see the other list of classics that he directed.
What I find amazing about Robert Wise was the fact he was involved in many of the most influential films of the 20th Century. He had a resumé of success that makes Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg look pedestrian in comparison; when he could list Citizen Kane, The Day the Earth Stood Still, West Side Story and The Sound of Music among the films he was heavily involved in--all films with great critical and public acceptance--that is truly the mark of a great person.
my stepfather was the radio operator in the 'hindenberg'. What an honor he must have felt to work with this director.
One of the great craftsman of film history. R.I.P.
Scorsese did an audio commentary on the DVD of 'The Set Up' that's interspersed with Wise comments. MS talks about how much he's always admired Wise's technique.
I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Wise at a film seminar back in 1994. He was quite the character. Certainly one of Hollywood's best. May he R.I.P.
Thanks for posting this. He was definitely before his time. Run Silent Run Deep is another classis that gets better with each showing. I was at a local theater viewing of The Day The Earth Stood Still a few years ago. They had a phone link to England and Robert Wise wished us all well and thanked us for watching his film.
Very few of that generation of American filmmakers are left. Vincent Sherman (a rather minor figure) and Jules Dassin (last surviving blacklisted director) are the only ones that spring to mind.
Wow, I didn't know he did the Andromeda Strain too. Man, what a career...
I didn't either... that movie scared the hell outta me as a kid
RIP Mister Wise.