Wyler was born Wilhelm Weiller to a Jewish family, a Swiss father and a German mother, in Mulhouse in the French region of Alsace (then part of the German Empire). His mother was a cousin of Carl Laemmle, founder of Universal Pictures. His father, Leopold, started as a traveling salesman which he later turned into a thriving haberdashery business.
During his childhood Wyler attended a number of schools and developed a reputation as “something of a hellraiser,” being expelled more than once for misbehavior. His mother often took him and his older brother Robert, to concerts, opera, and the theatre, as well as the early cinema. Sometimes at home his family and their friends would stage amateur theatricals for personal enjoyment.
After realizing that William was not interested in the family business, and having suffered through a terrible year financially after World War I, his mother, Melanie, contacted her distant cousin about opportunities for him. Laemmle was in the habit… read more
A dense cat and mouse game featuring old Bogart, still pulling it off, maybe not as menacing as he could have, but it is his charcters rogue-like ambiguity that carries the movie. A hostage drama at its core, the movie features a many characters and depicts their conflicting interests. Of course, the increasing tension between the captors and the glooming disaster is what fires up the heat of suspense.
Bogie's breakthrough role was Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest and he described his character in this excellent Wyler movie as 'Duke Mantee grown up'. Bogie is pure evil as the leader of a trio of escaped cons, hiding out in the home of Fredric March and his family. Bogie and March are two brilliant but different actors and it's fascinating to see them going toe to toe. Best to ignore Michael Cimino's tame remake!