A Wonderful Heart

The Films of William Wyler

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About the Book

Revered by his cinematic peers, William Wyler (1902–1981) was one of the most honored and successful directors of Hollywood’s Golden Age, with such classics as Dead End, Wuthering Heights, The Little Foxes, Roman Holiday and Ben-Hur. He won three directing Oscars and elicited over a dozen Oscar-winning performances from his actors. Such exacting performers as Bette Davis, Laurence Olivier and Charlton Heston counted him the best director they had worked with. Yet during the era of the “auteur” theory his films fell out of fashion, lacking, it was said, a distinctive stylistic and thematic signature.
This new critical study of Wyler’s work, the first in more than thirty years, challenges the notion of Wyler’s impersonality and offers a comprehensive reappraisal of his work, particularly of the underrated postwar films. It also provides a rebuttal of the auteurist criticism whose rigid categorization of directors cannot adequately encompass the range of someone like Wyler, who put substance above style and had a breadth of human understanding that was not reducible to a cluster of characteristic themes. Supported by archival research in Los Angeles, the book traces the important milestones in Wyler’s career, the context of his films, the importance of legendary producer Sam Goldwyn, his distinguished war record and his principled opposition to blacklisting during the McCarthy era.

About the Author(s)

Neil Sinyard is an emeritus professor of film studies at the University of Hull and visiting professor of film at Lincoln University, both in the United Kingdom. He is the author of 25 books on film.

Bibliographic Details

Neil Sinyard
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 256
Bibliographic Info: 13 photos, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3573-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0349-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments  v

Introduction: A Wonderful Heart  1

One. Early Life and Films  11

Two. Enter Sam Goldwyn  29

Three. Three Little Foxes: Davis and Wyler  67

Four. War and Its Aftermath  92

Five. The Paramount Films  120

Six. Pacificism and Revenge  161

Seven. Revision and Renewal  194

Conclusion  227

Filmography and Awards  231

Bibliography  239

Index  243


Book Reviews & Awards

“a masterfully written study of Wyler…recommended”—Choice.