Robert Wise

"While he never found a personal cinematic style or displayed a taste for any special theme or genre, Robert Wise made a number of films that may be described as superior entertainment. He was in fact a solid, conscientious craftsman and a fluent story-teller mercifully free of grandiose pretensions." - Geoff Andrew (The Film Handbook, 1989)

Robert Wise

Director / Editor / Producer
(1914-2005) Born September 10, Winchester, Indiana, USA
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Drama, Film Noir, Crime, Crime Drama, Science Fiction, Thriller, Docudrama, Western, Melodrama, Psychological Western, Gothic Film, Sports Drama
Key Collaborators: Albert S. D'Agostino (Production Designer), Nelson Gidding (Screenwriter), Boris Leven (Production Designer), Ernest Lehman (Screenwriter), William H. Reynolds (Editor), Walter E. Keller (Production Designer), Cedric Gibbons (Production Designer), Robert Ryan (Leading Actor), Richard Crenna (Leading Actor), Patricia Neal (Leading Actress), Julie Andrews (Leading Actress), Eleanor Parker (Leading Actress)

"Robert Wise began as a film editor, working with distinction on Orson Welles's Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)... Wise made movies until he was well into his eighties. Films such as The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), and Star Trek (1979) point back to his early experiments with special effects during the 1940s. Some have criticized him for rigidly adhering to genre rather than evolving his own discernible directorial style. A tall order, perhaps, considering his range. Nonetheless, Wise's films were all stamped with the same degree of professionalism. And they were undeniably successful, winning awards as well as pleasing the movie-going hordes." - Matthew Coniam (501 Movie Directors: A Comprehensive Guide to the Greatest Filmmakers, 2007)
"After directing a number of routine B pictures in the late 40s, Wise made what many consider the best boxing drama ever filmed, The Set-Up (1949), a mercilessly candid portrait of the seedy world of the professional ring... Wise followed this in the 50s with such high quality films as The Day the Earth Stood Still, Executive Suite, Somebody Up There Likes Me, I Want to Live and, Odds Against Tomorrow." - The MacMillan International Film Encyclopedia, 1994
"Although Robert Wise's most celebrated film was The Sound of Music (1965), shot in splendid Todd-AO and De Luxe Color, his forte was gritty, small-budget, black-and-white realistic dramas. Robert Wise became one of Hollywood's leading directors by moving from genre to genre, from style to style, in a workmanlike manner. Although he did so without imposing any discernible personal stamp on his films, he directed some of the finest boxing dramas, sci-fi movies, and horror films." - Ronald Bergan (Film - Eyewitness Companions, 2006)
"Variable American director and former editor, notably with Orson Welles on Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)… Although he has tackled every kind of subject, his best work is with intimate, almost claustrophobic themes - the business battles of Executive Suite (1954), the death-cell drama of I Want to Live (1958), the occult horror of The Haunting (1959)." - Margaret Hinxman (The International Encyclopedia of Film, 1972)
"Robert Wise was marked as a director to watch very early in his career. Among Val Lewton alumni, he occupies a middle position between Jacques Tourneur at the top and Mark Robson at the bottom. His temperament is vaguely liberal, his style vaguely realistic; but after The Sound of Music and The Sand Pebbles, the stylistic signature of Robert Wise is indistinct to the point of invisibility." - Andrew Sarris (The American Cinema, 1968)
"American director whose work became more variable as his career progressed - generally at his best with small-scale or sinister subjects. But, strangely, his two Academy Awards have been for big, splashy musicals - West Side Story and The Sound of Music - a far cry from the days when he edited films for Orson Welles." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Film Directors, 1999)
"A much maligned director who has a good pictorial sense and the ability to integrate a hint of realism and an interest in social issues into all types of projects." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
"I think one of the major things a director has to do is to know his subject matter, the subject matter of his script, know the truth and the reality of it. That's very important." - Robert Wise
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Born to Kill (1947) ✖︎, The Set-Up (1949) ✖︎, Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) ✖︎
Recommended
The Curse of the Cat People (1944) [co-directed by Gunther von Fritsch], The Body Snatcher (1945), Blood on the Moon (1948), Three Secrets (1950), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) , The House on Telegraph Hill (1951), The Captive City (1952), Executive Suite (1954), Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), Tribute to a Bad Man (1956), I Want to Live! (1958), The Haunting (1963), The Sound of Music (1965)
Worth a Look
The Sand Pebbles (1966), The Andromeda Strain (1971)
Approach with Caution
Mademoiselle Fifi (1944), Criminal Court (1946), So Big (1953), West Side Story (1961) [co-directed by Jerome Robbins], Star! (1968), Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Not Recommended
The Hindenburg (1975)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films ✖︎ 1,000 Noir Films
Robert Wise / Favourite Films
All About Eve (1950) Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Apocalypse Now (1979) Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather (1972) Francis Ford Coppola.
Source: Fifty Filmmakers Book (2002)
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    The Set-Up
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