Wise. Robert Wise’s case looks like this: he has 14 archiveable films (wow), he’s an absolute master of genre, and has West Side Story which is one of the best 300 movies ever made. The cast against him would be the high volume of just normal “recommend” films (10 of those).
Best film: West Side Story. I sort of understand the eye-rolling when someone brings up The Sound of Music—but West Side Story is just flat-out beautiful to look at. Wise boldly infuses color, framing and avant-garde camera work like mise-en-scene obstruction and split diopter.
total archiveable films: 14
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 1 (West Side Story)
top 100 films of the decade: 2 (West Side Story, The Haunting).
most overrated: Both The Sound of Music (#489 currently on TSPDT) and The Day the Earth Stood Still (#840 currently on TSPDT) are overrated at this point.
most underrated: The Haunting should be somewhere between 501-1000 on the TSPDT top 1000 and isn’t. I think some horror junkies dislike the A-movie shine big budgetness of The Haunting (this is the film Wise sandwiches between his big budget Oscar-Winning musicals) but it is faultlessly made.
gem I want to spotlight : The Set-Up. The images speak for themselves- nobody ever would’ve guessed that the guy who made The Sound of Music also made one a superb film noir- but sure enough- and Robert Ryan gives one of the best performances in his storied career.
stylistic innovations/traits: Wise was a polished Hollywood director who excelled in almost every genre. He made musicals of course (West Side Story, The Sound of Music), horror (The Haunting), Sci-fi (The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Andromeda Strain), noir (Born to Kill, The Set-Up), war movies (Sand Pebbles, Run Silent, Run Deep). As I mentioned above when talking about West Side Story that while some of Wise’s films are stylistically stale (relative to others on this list)—West Side Story is a daring artistic expression of a film. Wise would brilliantly go to the split diopter (long before De Palma) and dutch angles in West Side Story and The Haunting, has a keen sense of framing (West Side Story, Sound of Music) and there’s a perfectly lit, painterly establishing long-shot used in both The Set-Up and West Side Story—two films separated by genre, 12 years, color, and budget.
- West Side Story
- The Haunting
- The Sound of Music
- I Want to Live!
- The Set-Up
- Sand Pebbles
- The Day the Earth Stood Still
- Born to Kill
- The Andromeda Strain
- Somebody Up There Likes Me
By year and grades
|1947- Born to Kill||R|
|1948- Blood on the Moon||R|
|1949- The Set-Up||R|
|1951- The Day The Earth Stood Still||R|
|1954- Executive Suite||R|
|1956- Somebody Up There Likes Me||R|
|1958- I Want to Live!||HR|
|1958- Run Silent, Run Deep||R|
|1959- Odds Against Tomorrow||R|
|1961- West Side Story||MS/MP|
|1963- The Haunting||HR|
|1965- The Sound of Music||HR|
|1966- The Sand Pebbles||R|
|1971- The Andromeda Strain||R|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives