Robert Wise, American Filmmaker

January 7–28, 2006


Citizen Kane. 1941. USA. Directed, produced, and written by Orson Welles, with Herman J. Mankiewicz

After an extensive and varied career as a distinguished American filmmaker, Robert Wise died on September 14, 2005. His professional beginnings are an archetypal rags-to-riches story. Wise, an Indiana native, was forced to leave college during the Depression. With an older brother working at RKO Pictures, Wise moved to California to become a messenger in the studio’s editing department. As a novice editor, he apprenticed in the music and sound-effects division. Wise’s talents were soon recognized by Orson Welles, who hired him to edit Citizen Kane (1941). In 1944, Wise made his directorial debut with The Curse of the Cat People. Wise’s filmography is punctuated with such iconic films as The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), West Side Story (1961), and The Sound of Music (1965). The variety found in his work typifies Wise’s philosophy, in which editing was key and actors were always respected. The recipient of two Academy Awards for Best Director, Wise was honored in 1988 with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Directors Guild of America. This exhibition features six films drawn from MoMA’s Film and Media collection.

Organized by Anne Morra, Assistant Curator, Department of Film and Media.


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