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FILM

September 11, 2014

ROBERT WISE

KLATTU

KLATTU

 

A belated birthday wish to the late film director Robert Wise. Wise was best known for his big-budget musicals like West Side Story, The Sound of Music and Star. But this blogger credits the filmmaker for helming one of his top-five favorite films, The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Wise worked his way up the ranks at the now-defunct RKO Studios as a film editor. A protege of the incredible Orson Welles, Wise worked on several of Orson’s classic films. He was soon kicked upstairs to directing features like Curse of the Cat People, The Body Snatchers, and other film-noir classics.

I had a pleasant encounter with Mr. Wise back in the mid-1990s at one of the Baltimore FANEX movie conventions. He was a gracious guest and enjoyed talking about his rich film career. I only saw him lose his cool once, when insistent fans kept asking him about his work on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He uncharacteristically grumbled about the troubled production and some of “….those TV actors….” who thought they knew more than he did. No one dared mention it again.

 

A start-studded line-up of fantasy film folk at a mid-90's FANEX convention. That's Robert Wise, far left. Next is Robert Clark (star of 'The Hideous Sun Demon' and 'The Man from Planet X'); Forry Ackerman, Kathleen Crowley, and 'War of the Worlds' ingenue Ann Robinson.

A start-studded line-up of fantasy film folk at a mid-90’s FANEX convention. That’s Robert Wise, far left. Next is Robert Clark (star of ‘The Hideous Sun Demon’ and ‘The Man from Planet X’); Forry Ackerman, Kathleen Crowley, and ‘War of the Worlds’ ingenue Ann Robinson.

 

I was having a sandwich at a snack kiosk outside the meeting hall when Mr. Wise approached my table with his food and asked if I would mind if he joined me. Well, of course not! He blushed modestly when I told him how much i had enjoyed many of his fine films. He smiled patiently when I let him know that The Day the Earth Stood Still was one of my all-time favorites. I’m sure he only heard that several dozen times during the weekend.

 

Blogmeister Sam and director Robert Wise take a lunch break during his appearance at FANEX.

Blogmeister Sam and director Robert Wise take a lunch break during his appearance at FANEX.

 

He shook his head ruefully when I told him how much more I had enjoyed the Julie Andrews musical, Star, almost as much–if not more–than I did The Sound of Music. He agreed that Andrews was fantastic in it and still could not understand why it was such a bomb at the box-office. After a few more minutes of conversation he got up, shook hands with me, and left. It was a magical encounter for me and my best memory of that show.

 






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