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July 27: William Wyler

July 27, 2014

wyler-hepburn crGerman-born film director and screenwriter William Wyler, whose films three times won Academy Awards both for Best Director and Best Picture, died at 79 on this date in 1981. Wyler came to Hollywood in 1923 and began to work his way up (his mother was a cousin to Carl Laemmle, the founder of Universal Pictures). His best-known films include Ben-Hur (1959), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), and Mrs. Miniver (1942), which were his Oscar-winners. He also directed Dodsworth (1936), Dead End (1937), Wuthering Heights (1939), The Letter (1940), The Little Foxes (1941), The Heiress (1948), Roman Holiday (1953), Funny Girl (1968), and numerous other movies that brought Academy Awards fourteen times to his performers. Wyler was known as a difficult director who reshot scenes over and over. This approach allowed him to use fewer, longer takes in his finished films, but resulted in few actors performing in more than two of his films — with the notable exceptions of Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, and Walter Brennan. To see Audrey Hepburn getting a haircut in Roman Holiday, look below.

"From the early 1930s, William Wyler was either planning or directing films that tackled such issues as capitalism, class struggle, war and pacifism, and repressive politics . . ." --Gabriel Miller, William Wyler

William Wyler: The Life and Films of Hollywood's Most Celebrated Director - See more at: