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Ross On Wise

Welcome to 2018! According to cinema, it’s the year of Rollerball and, we guess, Terminator Salvation. So we have that to look forward to.

It was a blast to kick off 2018 with Eloise Ross, a guest we’ve been hoping to book on the show for some time, and as you’ve hopefully heard by now, it was definitely worth the wait. Eloise braved the heat to talk some film with us for an hour, and for the sake of audio quality we had to turn off the air conditioner and the fan and swelter as we tried to be erudite about all aspects of cinema. It was hot it what we’re saying.

We kick off the show looking at some of this month’s key films, including Steven Spielberg’s literally-ripped-from-the-headlines true story The Post, Guillermo Del Toro’s dark romantic fantasy The Shape of Water, Don Hertzfeldt’s animated science fiction sequel World of Tomorrow Episode 2: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts, and Ridley Scott’s ambitious Getty family biopic All the Money in the World.

We then look at the recent acquisition of Fox’s film assets by Disney, and what the merging of these studios means for the future of cinema both on-screen and off.

Then, Eloise takes us through the works and career of her filmmaker of the month, Robert Wise! Wise is a filmmaker you even if you don’t: West Side Story, The Sound of Music, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Andromeda Strain, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. There’s far more to him than those titles, which is sort of the point of the show. This episode is a massive eye-opener for Wise newbies and Wise fans alike, enlightening us to one of the great undiscovered filmographies that spans classic and modern Hollywood.

Think your fancy superhero movies invented cool cameos? Let Senator Estes Kefauver and 1952’s The Captive City take you to school.

Further reading:

Outro music: America from West Side Story (1961), performed by Rita Moreno et al, with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Steven Sondheim

The latest episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Eloise Ross talking the films of Robert Wise, can be heard on Stitcher Smart Radio, subscribed to on iTunes, or downloaded/streamed directly from our website.

Hell Is For Hyphenates – January 2018

Eloise Ross joins us to talk the films of Robert Wise!

For our first show of 2018, we welcome writer and critic Dr Eloise Ross, who joins us as we check out some of the key films from this month, including Steven Spielberg’s paean to press freedoms The Post (01:04), Guillermo Del Toro’s dark romantic fantasy The Shape of Water (05:46), Don Hertzfeldt’s animated science fiction sequel World of Tomorrow Episode 2: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts (10:23), and Ridley Scott’s Getty dynasty biopic All the Money in the World (13:16).

Eloise, Rochelle and Lee then take a look at the recent acquisition of 20th Century Fox’s film assets by Disney, and what the merging of these two studios could mean for the future of the film industry both on-screen and off. (17:01)

Then, Eloise takes us through the films and career of her filmmaker of the month, Robert Wise! After receiving an Oscar nomination for his work editing Citizen Kane (1941), Wise became a director in his own right, gaining a reputation as a reliable studio hand who brought his films in on time and under budget. But he was no journeyman, and his artistry immediately became apparent as he gave life to some of the most influential and beloved films of all time, including The Set-Up (1949), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), West Side Story (1961), The Sound of Music (1965), and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). Wise was a deft hand and a master of all genres, and Eloise delves into why his filmography so captivated her. (23:37)

The Robert Wise Cheat Sheet

Want to become an instant expert in our filmmaker of the month without committing yourself to an entire filmography? Then you need the Hell Is For Hyphenates Cheat Sheet: we program you a double feature that will not only make for a great evening’s viewing, but will bring you suitably up-to-speed before our next episode lands…

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951) and WEST SIDE STORY (1961)

There wasn’t any type of film Robert Wise couldn’t make. His first six films included two horrors, a period drama, a thriller, a courtroom drama, and a crime noir. He was a polymath long before he’d even dipped his toe into science fiction or musicals, and he conquered those genres as comprehensively as he did the others. Your evening kicks off with The Day the Earth Stood Still, an enduring classic and easily one of the most influential science fiction films of all time. It’s pulp with heart, a fascinating angle on the alien invasion trope that turns the spotlight on humanity with such brutality, it feels like it was made for audiences from Klaatu’s home planet. There’s no better cautionary tale about the morality of human beings, and we guarantee you’ll be pretty wary of them after seeing this film. Once that’s done, switch gears and pop on West Side Story. This film feels like the musical genre’s missing link, bridging the gap between the classic MGM musicals of the Freed Unit, and the more modern, less sanitised genre it eventually became. As an update of Romeo and Juliet, it’s inspired. As a commentary on the American Dream and systemic racism, it’s years ahead of its time. As a musical, it’s one of the greatest of all time, with music by the legendary Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by an offensively-young Stephen Sondheim. As a film, it is a certified classic, beautifully shot and perfectly choreographed. Watch these two films back to back and you’ll be a confirmed Robert Wise fan before the night is over.

Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen The Day the Earth Stood Still, seek out The Set-Up (1949). This is one of the earliest examples of a film running in real time, beating High Noon to the screen by three years. An aging boxer refuses to throw a fight, despite the threat from gangsters trying to put the fix on. It’s one of the greatest boxing films of all time, and a personal favourite of Martin Scorsese in case our recommendation isn’t enough for you. If you can’t get or have already seen West Side Story, get your hands on The Sound of Music (1965), that other legendary Robert Wise musical about a girl named Maria. This film oscillates between its reputation as cornball sing-song and Nazi-flag-ripping meme, but there’s a reason it endured long after musicals fell out of vogue. If you only know the film from a few melodic snippets and one Austrian helicopter shot, clear an evening and sit down with one of the seminal works of cinema history.

The Hidden Gem: Want to see something off the beaten path, a title rarely mentioned when people talk about the films of Robert Wise? Then you should track down Audrey Rose (1977). Anthony Hopkins stars as a man who believes that the daughter of a New York couple is his own daughter reincarnated, and that’s all we’re going to say. It’s tense, dramatic, and constantly surprising; the biggest mystery is how it’s managed to elude classic status for so long.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Eloise Ross talking the films of Robert Wise, will be released on 31 January 2018.

Our Next Hyphenate Eloise Ross

Writer, critic and Hi4H January 2018 guest host Eloise Ross

Welcome back! Honestly, it’s like you were never gone. We certainly weren’t: we’re already hard at work on the first shows of the new year, and we have some great stuff coming up. Really, you should hit subscribe as soon as possible. If you’ve already subscribed, you should unsubscribe and then immediately resubscribe just for the endorphine rush.

To kick it all off, we’re excited to announce that the first episode for 2018 will feature Dr Eloise Ross!

Eloise is a writer, critic and academic based in Melbourne. She received a PhD in cinema studies from LaTrobe University, and has contributed to Senses of Cinema, Overland, Kill Your Darlings, The Guardian, and many others. She’s a programmer with the Melbourne Cinématèque, she’s talked film on ABC Radio National and Triple R, and is one of the hosts of the Cultural Capital podcast. But, as with all achievements, these were simply a prelude to life’s greatest pinnacle: Hell Is For Hyphenates guest host.

So which filmmaker has Eloise chosen to talk about on the show?

None other than Robert Wise!

Wise began his career as a sound and music editor for RKO in the 1930s. He soon moved on to film editing, and received an Oscar nominated for his work on Citizen Kane (1941). After filling in for Orson Welles on reshoots for The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Wise became a director, and soon gained a reputation as a reliable studio hand with films such as The Curse of the Cat People (1944), The Body Snatcher (1945) and the seminal real-time boxing drama The Set-Up (1949).

He was the sort of multi-talented director who could switch between genres without breaking a sweat, working in drama, comedy, science fiction, horror, romance, and war pictures. He is perhaps best known for delivering some of cinema’s most enduring and iconic moments in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), West Side Story (1961), and The Sound of Music (1965).

But what is it about the work of Robert Wise that so appeals to Eloise?

Join us on January 31 when we find out!

Our next filmmaker of the month, Robert Wise (centre)