“It’s 80% script and 20% you get great actors. There’s nothing else to it.”*
Today is film director William Wyler’s (July 1, 1902 – July 27, 1981) birthday.
Wyler, you will recall, is the most nominated director in Academy Awards history with 12 nominations. In addition to that, Wyler has the distinction of having won the Academy Award for Best Direction on three occasions, for his direction of Ben Hur, The Best Years of Our Lives, and Mrs. Miniver. Only John Ford, who won four Oscars in this category, has won more.
Wyler also has the distinction of having directed more actors to Oscar-nominated performances than any other director in history: thirty-six. Out of these nominees, fourteen went on to win Oscars.
The list of his films is truly impressive. He made romantic comedies and religious epics and westerns and war movies and even a musical with Barbra Streisand!
My favorites are: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946),
Roman Holiday (1953),
The Big Country (1958),
Dead End (1937),
and, of course, Ben Hur (1959).
There are a lot of other great ones to choose from, but these are my favorites.
I will raise a glass to old William Wyler and watch The Big Country tonight. This film is marred, mostly by the presence of Carol Baker and the annoying character she plays, but I can overlook this, because Gregory Peck is at his most dreamy and he is ably supported by Charlton Heston at his smoldering best. And the music is great.