Directed by William Wyler/The Love Trap [DVD]

This DVD combines Aviva Slesin's 1986 documentary Directed by William Wyler and the 1929 Wyler-directed feature The Love Trap. The documentary covers the arc of Wyler's entire career, with help from the director himself, who was interviewed for the film just three days before his death in 1981, and includes interviews with Lillian Hellman, Bette Davis, Gregory Peck, John Huston, Barbra Streisand, Billy Wilder, Margaret Tallichet (the second Mrs. Wyler), Charlton Heston, Terence Stamp, Samantha Eggar, and Laurence Olivier, among others. Wyler's and Tallichet's recollections concerning Samuel Goldwyn make for the most entertaining body of stories, but the documentary makers also got permission for the use of some surprisingly lengthy clips from his work for a multitude of studios. The Love Trap (1929) is a movie that does show its age -- the first minute and a half is window-boxed and a bit on the scratchy side visually, though it stabilizes after that and looks quite good beyond that point. The movie is done as a silent with synchronized music for the first 45 minutes, and at a reel-change at that point turns into a talkie. The audio is in fine shape, and the image is sharp and crisp. The disc opens automatically to an unusually complex menu, owing to the presence of two features and a great two-pronged bonus feature: First are the trailers from 16 of Wyler's movies from the 1930s until the 1960s (including 1944's The Memphis Belle); second is one of the better and more useful onscreen filmographies that this reviewer has encountered on a DVD to date. The Love Trap is an interesting artifact of its period, though it doesn't offer much appeal beyond that -- it's not It and Laura La Plante isn't Clara Bow. But Directed by William Wyler is almost as valuable as entertainment as it is for its scholarship, and worth the price of the disc by itself.
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Overview

Special Features

  • Trailer gallery
  • Detailed filmography

Synopsis

Directed by William Wyler
This excellent biographical documentary looks at the life and work of director William Wyler. The film is dominated by clips from many of Wyler's better-known works, such as Roman Holiday, Ben-Hur, and Funny Girl. A long interview with the director himself (conducted a few days before he died) provides his personal perspective on his work and interviews with his actors and colleagues offer some surprising comments about the man. Terence Stamp feels Wyler may not have had a good command of English, while Laurence Olivier notes that Wyler taught him how to drop theatrical exaggerations and act for the camera. Bette Davis gives the most extensive commentary. Excerpts from home movies show Wyler and his family on vacation and also record a bit of the making of Wuthering Heights. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi

The Love Trap
Directed by William Wyler, The Love Trap centers around a chorus girl whose sudden job termination (on the day of her eviction, no less) leads her to a hasty decision -- she would attend a party and make money by whatever means necessary, however dubious those means may be. It isn't long before the young woman ends up on the receiving end of an attack, and not only finds herself thrown out of the party, but homeless, penniless, and at the mercy of a good-hearted taxi-cab driver. The cab driver lets her take up temporary residence inside one of his cars, and winds up falling in love with the singer, as she would with him. Certain that they were meant to be together, the couple rushes off to the altar; sparking no small amount of ire from the cab driver's snooty, upper crust family. Indeed, the relatives raise a mighty fuss -- his uncle goes so far as to expose the new bride of having been the host's mistress at the ill-fated party she had attended at the height of her desperation, which leads to a heated showdown between husband, mother, and uncle. The Love Trap features Laura LaPlante, Nell Hamilton, Norman Trevor, and Jocyln Lee ~ Tracie Cooper, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • William Wyler
    William Wyler
  • Bette Davis
    Bette Davis
  • Laurence Olivier
    Laurence Olivier
  • Image coming soon
    Lillian Hellman
  • Gregory Peck
    Gregory Peck
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