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"Only grown-up men are scared of women."

I was going to write a rant about broadcast flags and Tivo, but this came up...

Veteran director Robert Wise passed away this week at age 91. If any of you don't know who he was, go look at his filmography and I'll bet you'll find something you know.

Wise, like many directors did some good and bad films over the years. One of the remarkable things about Wise was the sheer variety of material he did. His films ran the gamunt of genres from musicals (The Sound of Music, West Side Story) to Science Fiction (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Day the Earth Stood Still). Heck, he even did a horror film.

When I think of Wise, the big-budget musicals come to mind, but also the stuff he worked on during his time at RKO in the 1940s. He was editor on Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons. He has some notoriety with the latter film since he was the one who, at the studio's insistance and over Welles' objections, severely cut the film and tacked on a happy ending. I don't think it's appropriate to blame Wise since he was an employee of the studio and probably needed to keep his job. And if he'd refused, someone else would have done the deed.

Wise was never an "auteur" director since he rarely had total creative control over his projects and didn't write his screenplays. He did however seem to often pick material that was good and delivered it in a way that served it well. I guess I would describe him as more of a film craftsman rather than a film art genius. The work he did was consistantly good even if the material he was directing didn't always hold up.

Luckily he was willing to do interviews and DVD (some were on Laserdisc) commentary tracks. Among the tracks he recorded were those on The Day the Earth Stood Still, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Sound of Music (soon to be re-released), and The Sand Pebbles.