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A Talent for Trouble


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Table of Contents

* Prologue: Swing Gang * The Name Should Be Willi * A Kids Point of View * Troublemaker * Like a Trip to the Moon * New York * Worthless Willy * Sin City * Lights! Camera! Action! * Give Him a Two-Reeler * Last of the Silents * Dialogue in Small Doses * Wild Times * That Batty Broad * The Wyler Touch * Just Do It Again * Goldwynitis * Ill Know It When I See It * A Little Hook That Gets You * Good-Bye, Sam * He Pleased Himself * Deep Focus * Velvet Glove * He Didnt Want to Miss The War * It Could Bring You Back Alive * A Battlefront Like No Other * Italian Assignment * Not Hollywood-As-Usual * Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been? * Eating Actors Alive * He Didnt Want a Yes-Man * Dupe, Idiot or Communist * Roman Holiday * The Man you Hate to Love * Pacifists Dilemma * Big Muddy * Ben-Hur * Second Time Around * The Taste of Stamps * French Schedule * No Pushover * Black and White * Roasts and Toasts * What an Exit * Filography * Academy Awards

About the Author

A resident of New York City, Jan Herman is an award-winning journalist and coauthor of Cut Up or Shut Up.


Researched and written with the Wyler family's cooperation, Herman's richly satisfying biography takes a close look at the feisty, mischievous William Wyler (1902-1981), who directed Wuthering Heights, Roman Holiday, Friendly Persuasion, Funny Girl and many other memorable films, won three Academy Awards and guided more actors to Oscars (13) than any other director. Herman describes Wyler's painstaking approach to making his 32 films, showing how he worked with writers, actors, producers and technical crew. Equally well-covered are Wyler's early romances, his marriage and family life, his friendship with director John Huston, his thorny but productive relationship with producer Samuel Goldwyn, and his brave defiance of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Finally, Herman reveals how the death of his brother in 1971 led to Wyler's surprising decision to retire from filmmaking and spend the final decade of his life traveling around the world. Written by an award-winning journalist for the Los Angeles Times, this biography is a major addition to the literature of Hollywood's golden age. Photos. (Jan.)

Wyler was the most consistent craftsman during Hollywood's golden age, directing best-picture Oscar winners like Best Years of Our Lives and Ben Hur. Wyler would coax, cajole, or bully performances. Olivier said Wyler taught him to act for the camera and ex-lover Bette Davis counted him a favorite director. This book depicts Wyler's rise through the studio system, his turbulent friendship with longtime producer Sam Goldwyn, a brief marriage to actress Margaret Sullavan (later called a "batty broad" by Wyler), and his World War II frontline service directing combat films, which resulted in severe hearing loss. After the war Wyler defended colleagues against the blacklist but "chickened out" on a lesbian theme in The Children's Hour. He also passed on a lucrative job directing The Sound of Music because he couldn't bear making a film about "all those nice Nazis." Written with help from Wyler's friends and family, this is the most comprehensive book yet published on a gifted but very human director. Highly recommended.‘Stephen Rees, Bucks Cty. Free Lib., Levittown, Pa.

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