Industry Activities

By Anonymous | American Cinematographer, March 1975 | Go to article overview

Industry Activities


Anonymous, American Cinematographer


PREVIEW OF THE USA FILM FESTIVAL

A preview of the best United States films coming up in 1975, as selected by four of the nation's leading film critics, will highlight the USA Film Festival, March 17th through 23rd at the Bob Hope Theatre in Dallas.

William Wyler has been chosen as the Festival's Great U.S.A. Director of 1975, and will be honored by a retrospective of seven of his films, one each day of the week-long event.

Mr. Wyler, along with film critics Judith Grist, Hollis Alpert, Arthur Knight, and Barbara Bryant, and stars and directors of the new feature films, will be on stage to discuss the films with Festival audiences in Southern Methodist University's Bob Hope Theatre.

Now in its fifth year., the USA Film Festival is unique in that it is devoted exclusively to films directed by U.S. citizens, according to its director, Dr. G. William Jones. Jones said, "It's really a~ critics' choice festival and the only one in which the critics appear onstage to discuss their selections with the audience."

WYLER RETROSPECTIVE

William Wyler is not only the most honored of motion picture directors, he has also created the industry's greatest variety of films. Ranging from "DEAD END" to "THE BIG COUNTRY", from "THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES" to "BEN HUR", from "WUTHERING HEIGHTS" to "MRS. MINIVER", Wyler has brought his many gifts as a filmmaker to bear on pictures that have become classics of the screen.

Wyler's career in the motion picture industry began in 1921 in the New York offices of Universal Pictures, where he first did general clerical work and then, because of his knowledge of languages, served as foreign publicity representative.

Determined to become a director of films, he managed a transfer to Universal Studios in California in 1922, where he first became a prop boy, then a script clerk, then an assistant director, and finally a director of low-budget westerns. He soon graduated to fulllength sound films. It was the success of his film version of Elmer Rice's "COUNSELLOR-AT-LAW" in 1933, starring John Barrymore, that placed him on the top list of Hollywood directors. In 1936 he made a film of Sinclair Lewis's "DODSWORTH" for which he received his first of eleven Academy Award nominations as Director of the Year. Since then only two of Wyler's: films have not received Academy Award nominations. His films have won, exclusive of technical awards, 125 nominations and 40 Oscars. Wyler himself has won the coveted award three times. He is said to be the most consistent director in cinema history.

His choices for the retrospective screenings at the USA Film Festival include:

"DODSWORTH" (1936) starring Walter Huston in one of his finest performances. Exploring the social implications of a troubled marriage and material success, this Wyler film is a true masterpiece, years ahead of its time.

"JEZEBEL" (1938) starring Bette Davis and Henry Fonda. Ms. Davis won an Academy Award for her role as the self-centered Southern belle in this film that is frequently said to have painted a more accurate picture of the Old South than "GONE WITH THE WIND".

"WUTHERING HEIGHTS" (1939) starring Merle Oberen and Laurence Olivier as Cathy and Heathcliff. This allstar cast and crew also features superb performances by David Niven and Géraldine Fitzgerald, screenplay by Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht, and . photography by Gregg Toland, ASC,

"THE LITTLE FOXES" (1941) starring Bette Davis gives her another role as a, this time updated, ruthless Southern belle. The scene in which Ms. Davis stands by and watches her husband die of a heart attack has become a screen classic. …

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