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A Talent for Trouble: The Life of Hollywood's Most Acclaimed Director, William Wyler Hardcover – January 3, 1996


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

William Wyler is not as well known as Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, or John Ford, but he deserves a place among the superstar directors of classic Hollywood. His style was magnificently fluid; while his films are masterpieces of cinematic artistry, they are also filled with beautiful elements that make his characters and situations utterly real. Among other classics, he directed "Dead End," "Wuthering Heights," "The Little Foxes," "Mrs. Miniver," "The Best Years of Our Lives," "The Heiress," "Roman Holiday," "Ben-Hur," and "Funny Girl." Jan Herman's biography is a lively account of Wyler's life and career that pays special attention to the director's early experiences in Europe, his relationship to the Hollywood mogul Carl Laemmle, his combative partnership with Samuel Goldwyn, his friendships with John Huston and Lillian Hellman, his marriage to Margaret Tallichet, his harrowing experiences making propaganda films during World War II, and his long, immensely successful professional career. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 517 pages
  • Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons; 1st edition (January 3, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399140123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399140129
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.5 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #973,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Keith Burnage on February 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
A thoroughly engrossing book that delves not only in Wyler the director, but Wyler the man. This books offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of this phenomenal director, from his early days as a young immigrant to becoming honored by the AFI.
Learn what went on before, during and after some of filmdom's greatest movies (Mrs. Miniver, Best Years Of Their Lives, and Ben-Hur) as well as Wylers' time in the service, shooting award winning documentaries. As well as how the HUAC hearings impacted on his professional life and those he came to rely on, and how he dealt with personal triumphs and tragedies.
Jan Herman has taken what could have been a dry retelling of movie making, and offers up a book that is both informative and entertaining.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MovieGuy on March 16, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
" A Talent for Trouble" is an excellent biography of Hollywood's most honored director. Wyler received 3 Best Director Oscars and was nominated a total of 12 times. No other director has been nominated for more Oscars. "Talent" does an excellent job of showing Wyler as a director and as a man. The section on his WWII experiences and on the making of "The Best Years of Our Lives" is compelling reading. The author does not shy away from Wyler's perfectionist attitude on a movie set. Wyler always felt he knew greatness "when he heard it."
If you want to see how an old school director worked, read this book.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
Until I read this book, I had no idea that so many of my favourite classic films were directed by William Wyler.
The book tracks through Wyler's early childhood in pre-WWI Europe, his move to the United States and how he made his start making 3 movies a week for his uncle.
The book examines the process behind Wyler's great films - Roman Holiday, The Heiress and so on. Having read a biography of Audrey Hepburn and read about how she coped with the filming of Roman Holiday, it was really interesting to read the director's verion of what happened during filming. The quality of the final product was important to Wyler. He was a meticulous film maker who cared about his films. He was also a man of principle as shown by his efforts to make realistic fims during WWII, often puttin ghis wn life at risk as he shot footage of bombing raids over Europe.
The book also shows a little bit of Wyler's personal life. He was married for most of his life to the same wonderful woman and had a family that he clearly loved.
All in all, the book was a fascinating insight into pre-sound Hollywood and into a very interesting man and great director. It was extremely well written and an "easy read". It was tough to put down!
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