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Top Ten Robert Wise Films


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Robert Wise is one of my favorite directors and TCM is doing an all day marathon of his films. He has done great work in every single genre you can imagine. Here are my top ten in chronological order. What are yours?

1.  The Curse Of The Cat People (1944). A sequel but a great film on it's own. It is nice study of childhood fantasy with some eerie ghostly scenes as well.

2. The Body Snatcher (1945) A great horror film about a doctor who uses stolen corpses in his work. Boris Karloff is chilling in the title role, who resorts to killing to supply the bodies.

3. Born To Kill (1947) A brutal noir about a killer (Lawrence Tierney) who works his way into a wealthy family. Many tough and gritty moments in this, still potent today.

4. The Set Up (1949) One of the best boxing films ever. Robert Ryan is a washed up fighter who has to take a fall. We see the real seedy side of the sport and of the town.

5. The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) One of the greatest science fiction films ever made. A alien from outer space (Michael Rennie) comes in peace but finds suspicion and hate from the earth people. 

6. I Want To Live (1958)  A good crime/message picture. Susan Hayward gives her greatest performance as a B girl who gets involved with murder. Still powerful scene at the gas chamber.

7. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Another crime/message film with excellent performances. Robert Ryan is a racist ex con forced to work with a black man (Harry Belafonte) on a heist. The ending packs a punch.

8. West Side Story (1961) My favorite movie musical. The songs, dancing and performances are great. Choreographer Jerome Robbins co directed much of the film before being fired. Wise did a brilliant job finishing the film.

9, The Haunting (1963). An eerie ghost story of a haunted house. Julie Harris gives one of her best performances as a sensitive medium. Wise handles the supernatural beautifully as we can feel and hear the ghosts but never see them.

10. The Sound Of Music (1965) Another great musical. Great songs and Julie Andrews is excellent. The beginning helicopter shot is one of the best in film history.

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1 hour ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

Robert Wise is one of my favorite directors and TCM is doing an all day marathon of his films. He has done great work in every single genre you can imagine. Here are my top ten in chronological order. What are yours?

1.  The Curse Of The Cat People (1944). A sequel but a great film on it's own. It is nice study of childhood fantasy with some eerie ghostly scenes as well.

2. The Body Snatcher (1945) A great horror film about a doctor who uses stolen corpses in his work. Boris Karloff is chilling in the title role, who resorts to killing to supply the bodies.

3. Born To Kill (1947) A brutal noir about a killer (Lawrence Tierney) who works his way into a wealthy family. Many tough and gritty moments in this, still potent today.

4. The Set Up (1949) One of the best boxing films ever. Robert Ryan is a washed up fighter who has to take a fall. We see the real seedy side of the sport and of the town.

5. The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) One of the greatest science fiction films ever made. A alien from outer space (Michael Rennie) comes in peace but finds suspicion and hate from the earth people. 

6. I Want To Live (1958)  A good crime/message picture. Susan Hayward gives her greatest performance as a B girl who gets involved with murder. Still powerful scene at the gas chamber.

7. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Another crime/message film with excellent performances. Robert Ryan is a racist ex con forced to work with a black man (Harry Belafonte) on a heist. The ending packs a punch.

8. West Side Story (1961) My favorite movie musical. The songs, dancing and performances are great. Choreographer Jerome Robbins co directed much of the film before being fired. Wise did a brilliant job finishing the film.

9, The Haunting (1963). An eerie ghost story of a haunted house. Julie Harris gives one of her best performances as a sensitive medium. Wise handles the supernatural beautifully as we can feel and hear the ghosts but never see them.

10. The Sound Of Music (1965) Another great musical. Great songs and Julie Andrews is excellent. The beginning helicopter shot is one of the best in film history.

Nice list of  Robert Wise films.      Note that 9\10 is his birthday (he was born in 1914).      Additonal Wise films that I have enjoyed are:

Blood on the Moon -  western with noir undertones with Robert Mitchum.

Executive Suite - corporate film with an ensemble cast headed by William Holden,  Stanwyck,  Fredric March,  and Nina Foch (who was nominated for best supporting actress for a small role).

The Sand Pebbles - film set in China,  mostly on a US gunboat,  with Steve McQueen and Candice Bergen.

 

 

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Never too fond of Nos 9 and 10.  But that doesn't mean they weren't well done.  Personally, I'd replace them with SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME ('56)     and THE SAND PEBBLES('66).  The rest of the list is fine with me.  ;) 

Sepiatone

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51 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Executive Suite - corporate film with an ensemble cast headed by William Holden,  Stanwyck,  Fredric March,  and Nina Foch (who won best supporting for a small role).

I need to watch this one again, it's been years. And Nina Foch was nominated that year but was beat by Eva Marie Saint for On The Waterfront. 

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On 9/10/2020 at 1:18 PM, Det Jim McLeod said:

I need to watch this one again, it's been years. And Nina Foch was nominated that year but was beat by Eva Marie Saint for On The Waterfront. 

I like Executive Suite especially the scenes between March and Holden and their vastly different views on how corporate America should operate.   

Yea, thanks for that correction on Foch;      I forget that she didn't win but was only nominated since Foch's on-screen-time and role is so short (I believe it ranks  in the top ten for shortest time on screen to be nominated).    Foch did fine with what she was given but a role like Saint's in On The Waterfront is a much better showcase for an actress.     (also to me Saint's role was more of a leading actress,  especially since there were few other women in the film,,  I.e. no other leading actress).

(Foch did win the National Board of Review award for her role,   so maybe that relates to another Wise film,,  somebody up there likes me,  ha ha).

 

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For some reason, I like the lesser known Robert Wise efforts.

A GAME OF DEATH (1945) is a solid remake of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932).

STAR! (1968) is a great vehicle for all of Julie Andrews' on stage ability and talent.

But my favorite Robert Wise picture is AUDREY ROSE (1977) with Anthony Hopkins and Marsha Mason. The gimmicky story just pulls me in, and I like how despite it being a horror entry, it gets all psychological and poses serious questions about belief in the afterlife and belief in reincarnation.

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8 hours ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

I need to watch this one again, it's been years. And Nina Foch was nominated that year but was beat by Eva Marie Saint for On The Waterfront. 

Love this film.  Love the use of sound and the all star cast.  Some of my favorites including:  William Holden, Paul Douglas, Fredric March and Barbara Stanwyck.  I can even stand June Allyson in this one.  William Holden's climactic speech is still a stunner.  I often wonder how many takes it took to get that performance or if he just nailed it on Take 1.

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4 hours ago, TopBilled said:

For some reason, I like the lesser known Robert Wise efforts.

STAR! (1968) is a great vehicle for all of Julie Andrews' on stage ability and talent.

But my favorite Robert Wise picture is AUDREY ROSE (1977) with Anthony Hopkins and Marsha Mason. The gimmicky story just pulls me in, and I like how despite it being a horror entry, it gets all psychological and poses serious questions about belief in the afterlife and belief in reincarnation.

I saw the three-hour roadshow of Star! on disk, and it's every bit the marathon slog it's said to be...Maybe if they'd used some new songs??

But if we're talking minor Wise, I'll stick up for his making us sentimental for transatlantic dirigible travel, with a touch of wartime whodunit, in The Hindenburg (1976)

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1 hour ago, EricJ said:

I saw the three-hour roadshow of Star! on disk, and it's every bit the marathon slog it's said to be...Maybe if they'd used some new songs??

But if we're talking minor Wise, I'll stick up for his making us sentimental for transatlantic dirigible travel, with a touch of wartime whodunit, in The Hindenburg (1976)

Oh I don't find STAR! a chore to sit through at all. It's an enjoyable musical tour-de-force.

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20 hours ago, TopBilled said:

For some reason, I like the lesser known Robert Wise efforts.

A GAME OF DEATH (1945) is a solid remake of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932).

STAR! (1968) is a great vehicle for all of Julie Andrews' on stage ability and talent.

But my favorite Robert Wise picture is AUDREY ROSE (1977) with Anthony Hopkins and Marsha Mason. The gimmicky story just pulls me in, and I like how despite it being a horror entry, it gets all psychological and poses serious questions about belief in the afterlife and belief in reincarnation.

I read the book before the movie was ever made.  Thanks for the reminder....

Another one for my short list of "Movies that are as good as the book."  ;)   I wonder if TCM might someday do a night of those---  you know.....

Movies about or otherwise concerning reincarnation.   AUDREY ROSE and THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD are he only two I can think of.  And "Peter Proud" wasn't too bad of a book adaptation either.

Sepiatone

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I don''t know if I can come up with ten and then rate them, but I was watching "Born To Kill" yesterday and really appreciating how well directed it was. The film never has to come out and say that Sam is a gigolo. It is implied in all kinds of ways. In the scene between Helen and Sam after his  wedding  to her sister  when Helen starts asking all kinds of nosey questions you can see Tierney's Sam get alarmed - he is losing the control he has over the situation.  But then Helen asks him why he has stayed away from her all of these weeks (Sam was initially interested in Helen)  and he looks both relieved and amused. He realizes he still has the power of sexual appeal over her. I don't know if Tierney was a great actor but he was a great Lawrence Tierney, and I doubt he would have gotten all of the subtleties of Sam's character without excellent direction. 

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55 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

I read the book before the movie was ever made.  Thanks for the reminder....

Another one for my short list of "Movies that are as good as the book."  ;)   I wonder if TCM might someday do a night of those---  you know.....

Movies about or otherwise concerning reincarnation.   AUDREY ROSE and THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD are he only two I can think of.  And "Peter Proud" wasn't too bad of a book adaptation either.

Sepiatone

I agree that a schedule of reincarnation films would make for a great primetime theme on TCM.

Other ones on reincarnation worth checking out:

I'VE LIVED BEFORE (1957)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I've_Lived_Before

And THE SEARCH FOR BRIDEY MURPHY (1956) based on a real-life case:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridey_Murphy#Film_adaptation

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4 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

probably these

The Hindenburg
The Andromeda Strai
n
The Sand Pebbles
The Haunting
 Odds Against Tomorrow
  I Want to Live!
  Somebody Up There Likes Me
  The Day the Earth Stood Still
 The Set-Up
  Born to Kill

Interesting choices, do you consider Wise to be one of the best "noir" directors? Most remember him for his two Oscar winning musicals, but he did many great noir films.

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2 hours ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

Interesting choices, do you consider Wise to be one of the best "noir" directors? Most remember him for his two Oscar winning musicals, but he did many great noir films.

Yea hes been a favorite of mine 

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15 hours ago, NipkowDisc said:

I disagree about The Haunting.

neurotic eleanor makes you root for the ghosts.

only a ghost would want to hold this insufferable irritant's hand.

The Haunting - NYT Watching

I agree.    I yell at the T.V.:   Hey ghosts,,,  please shut this lady up!

 

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Most of what Nipkow says really exhausts me, but I may have listed Julie Harris in the Actors You Don't Like thread, and if I didn't, I meant to. And I've always found this one of her most exhausting performances. So, I should probably go up and give Nipkow a Like or a Laughing emoji.

Edit: Oh, all right.

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