Robert Wise (1914-2005)

“In a sense, he was the Steven Spielberg of his time.” – Martin Scorsese, on Robert Wise

Robert Wise with actress Audrey Totter on the set of “The Set Up” (1949)

Director and editor Robert Wise behind West Side Story and The Sound of Music died Wednesday. He was 91. The following includes excerpts from the LA Times. 

“He was always treated with great deference and it was not for what he accomplished in films, but for who he was as a human being,” Lawrence Mirisch said a family family and a motion picture agent.

Michael Apted, president of the Directors Guild of America, said in a statement that Wise’s … devotion to the craft of filmmaking and his wealth of head-and-heart knowledge about what we do and how we do it was a special gift to his fellow directors.”

Earning a reputation as a disciplined and impeccable craftsman, he worked in virtually every genre — from high drama and romantic comedy to film noir and the supernatural.”

Among Robert Wise’s best-known 40 films:

  • Somebody Up There Likes Me” (1956)
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951),
  • I Want to Live!” (1958)
  • The Haunting” (1963)
  • The Sand Pebbles” (1966)

In 1998, the modest and self-effacing filmmaker became the 26th recipient of the AFI’s life achievement award, joining the ranks of fellow directors John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock and Welles in receiving what is widely considered the film industry’s highest career honor.

“Some of the more esoteric critics claim that there’s no Robert Wise style or stamp,” Wise said at the time. “My answer to that is that I’ve tried to approach each genre in a cinematic style that I think is right for that genre. I wouldn’t have approached ‘The Sound of Music’ the way I approached ‘I Want to Live!‘ for anything, and that accounts for a mix of styles.”


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