For over fifty years Robert Wise has made great movies. He won the Academy Award for West Side Story and for The Sound of Music. But his movies have done more than just entertain us. Working in all genres, he has helped us think about the human condition. Racism, capital punishment, power and purpose in the corporate boardroom, questions of war and peace, the dangers of nuclear and biological weapons -- all have been addressed at one time or another in his films, and often ahead of his time. After watching a Robert Wise film, we leave the theater not only entertained but also enlightened by a director who uses his mastery of cinema not so much to leave us conscious of his style as to tell us a story so that we might better understand the world around us.
In addition to being a film editor at one time, and a director, Mr. Wise was also President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and a winner of the Irving Thalberg Award. A retrospective of his work is being shown at the Pacific Film Archive on the Berkeley campus.