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Wallis, Hal B.

WALLIS, Hal B.



Producer. Nationality: American. Born: Harold Brent Wallis in Chicago, Illinois, 14 September 1899. Family: Married 1) the actress Louise Fazenda, 1927 (divorced); son: the producer Hal B. Wallis, Jr.; 2) the actress Martha Hyer. Career: Left school at 14, and worked as office boy and salesman for electric heating company; 1922—manager of Garrick film theatre, Los Angeles; 1923—joined Warner Bros. as assistant to head of publicity, then became head of publicity; 1928—made studio manager; 1928–31—production executive 1933–42—executive producer in charge of production; 1942—formed Hal Wallis Productions, releasing through Paramount and, after 1969, through Universal. Awards: Irving G. Thalberg Award, 1938, 1943; Academy Award for Casablanca, 1943. Died: In Rancho Mirage, California, 5 October 1986.


Films as Producer:

1930

The Dawn Patrol (Hawks); Sally (Dillon); Little Caesar (LeRoy)

1931

Five Star Final (LeRoy)

1932

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (LeRoy)

1933

Mystery of the Wax Museum (Curtiz); The World Changes (LeRoy); Gold Diggers of 1933 (LeRoy); Footlight Parade (Bacon); 42nd Street (Bacon)

1934

Flirtation Walk (Borzage)

1935

"G" Men (Keighley); Sweet Adeline (LeRoy); A Midsummer Night's Dream (Reinhardt and Dieterle); Captain Blood (Curtiz)

1936

The Story of Louis Pasteur (Dieterle); Anthony Adverse (LeRoy); Green Pastures (Connelly and Keighley); Green Light (Borzage); The Charge of the Light Brigade (Curtiz); Stolen Holiday (Curtiz); God's Country and the Woman (Keighley)

1937

Marked Woman (Bacon); Kid Galahad (Curtiz); The Life of Emile Zola (Dieterle); First Lady (Logan); That Certain Feeling (Goulding); Back in Circulation (Enright); It's Love I'm After (Mayo); Confession (May); Call It a Day (Mayo); The Go Getter (Berkeley); The Prince and the Pauper (Keighley); Slim (Enright); Marry the Girl (McGann); The Perfect Specimen (Curtiz); Tovarich (Litvak) (co); Hollywood Hotel (Berkeley)

1938

A Slight Case of Murder (Bacon); Jezebel (Wyler) (co); The Adventures of Robin Hood (Curtiz and Keighley); Boy Meets Girl (Bacon); Four Daughters (Curtiz); The Sisters (Litvak); Brother Rat (Keighley); Swing Your Baby (Enright);Love, Honor, and Behave (Logan); Gold Is Where You Find It (Curtiz); White Banners (Goulding); Gold Diggers in Paris (Enright); Cowboy from Brooklyn (Bacon); Hard to Get (Enright); Dawn Patrol (Goulding); Going Places (Enright)

1939

Dark Victory (Goulding); Juarez (Dieterle) (co); The Old Maid (Goulding) (co); The Roaring Twenties (Walsh) (co); Daughters Courageous (Curtiz); The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (Curtiz) (co); They Made Me a Criminal (Berkeley); Wings of the Navy (Bacon); The Kid from Kokomo (Seiler) (co); Yes, My Darling Daughter (Keighley); We Are Not Alone (Goulding); A Child Is Born (Bacon)

1940

Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (Dieterle); Brother Orchid (Bacon) (co); Torrid Zone (Keighley); They Drive By Night (Walsh) (co); The Sea Hawk (Curtiz); A Dispatch from Reuters (Dieterle); The Letter (Wyler) (co); Four Wives (Curtiz); The Fighting 69th (Keighley); Brother Rat and a Baby (Enright) (co); Invisible Stripes (Bacon); Three Cheers for the Irish (Bacon); Virginia City (Curtiz); It All Came True (Seiler) (co); 'Til We Meet Again (Goulding); Saturday's Children (V. Sherman); All This, and Heaven Too (Litvak) (co); My Love Came Back (Bernhardt); No Time for Comedy (Keighley); City for Conquest (Litvak); Knute Rockne—All American (Bacon); Santa Fe Trail (Curtiz)

1941

High Sierra (Walsh) (co); The Sea Wolf (Curtiz); The Great Lie (Goulding) (co); Sergeant York (Hawks); The Maltese Falcon (Huston) (co); Out of the Fog (Litvak); Footsteps in the Dark (Bacon); The Wagons Roll at Night (Enright); Affectionately Yours (Bacon); Shining Victory (Rapper); Million Dollar Baby (Bernhardt); Underground (V. Sherman); The Bride Came C.O.D. (Keighley); Manpower (Walsh) (co); Navy Blues (Bacon) (co); Dive Bomber (Curtiz); One Foot in Heaven (Rapper) (co); The Strawberry Blonde (Walsh); They Died with Their Boots On (Walsh)

1942

The Man Who Came to Dinner (Keighley) (co); Kings Row (Wood); Yankee Doodle Dandy (Curtiz); Now, Voyager (Rapper); Captains of the Clouds (Curtiz); Brother Orchid (Bacon); The Male Animal (Nugent); Larceny, Inc. (Bacon); Juke Girl (Bernhardt); In This Our Life (Huston); Desperate Journey (Walsh)

1943

Casablanca (Curtiz); Air Force (Hawks); Watch on the Rhine (Shumlin); Princess O'Rourke (Krasna); This Is the Army (Curtiz)

1944

Passage to Marseilles (Curtiz)

1945

Love Letters (Dieterle); The Affairs of Susan (Seiter); You Came Along (Farrow); Saratoga Trunk (Wood)

1946

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (Milestone); The Searching Wind (Dieterle); The Perfect Marriage (Allen)

1947

I Walk Alone (Haskin); Desert Fury (Allen)

1948

So Evil My Love (Allen); Sorry, Wrong Number (Litvak); The Accused (Dieterle)

1949

Rope of Sand (Dieterle); My Friend Irma (G. Marshall); File on Thelma Jordan (Siodmak)

1950

Paid in Full (Dieterle); The Furies (A. Mann); Dark City (Dieterle); My Friend Irma Goes West (Walker)

1951

September Affair (Dieterle); That's My Boy (Walker); Peking Express (Dieterle); Red Mountain (Dieterle); Sailor Beware (Walker); The Stooge (Taurog)

1952

Come Back Little Sheba (D. Mann); Jumping Jacks (Taurog); Scared Stiff (Marshall)

1953

Cease Fire! (Crump); Money from Home (Marshall)

1954

About Mrs. Leslie (D. Mann); Three Ring Circus (Pevney)

1955

The Rose Tattoo (D. Mann)

1956

Artists and Models (Tashlin); The Rainmaker (Anthony); Hollywood or Bust (Tashlin)

1957

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (J. Sturges); Loving You (Kanter); The Sad Sack (Marshall); Wild Is the Wind (Cukor)

1958

King Creole (Curtiz); Hot Spell (Daniel Mann)

1959

Last Train from Gun Hill (J. Sturges); Career (Anthony); Don't Give Up the Ship (Taurog)

1960

G.I. Blues (Taurog)

1961

All in a Night's Work (Anthony); Blue Hawaii (Taurog); Summer and Smoke (Glenville)

1962

A Girl Named Tamiko (J. Sturges); Girls! Girls! Girls! (Taurog)

1963

Wives and Lovers (Rich); Fun in Acapulco (Thorpe)

1964

Becket (Glenville); Roustabout (Rich)

1965

The Sons of Katie Elder (Hathaway); Boeing Boeing (Rich)

1966

Paradise—Hawaiian Style (Moore)

1967

Easy Come, Easy Go (Rich); Barefoot in the Park (Saks)

1968

5 Card Stud (Hathaway)

1969

True Grit (Hathaway); Anne of the Thousand Days (Jarrott)

1970

Norwood (Haley)

1971

Red Sky at Morning (Goldstone)

1972

Shoot Out (Hathaway); Mary, Queen of Scots (Jarrott); Follow Me (The Public Eye) (Reed)

1973

A Bequest to the Nation (The Nelson Affair) (Jones); The Don Is Dead (Fleis cher)

1975

Rooster Cogburn (Millar)

Publications

By WALLIS: articles—

Today's Cinema, 18 August 1969.

Films and Filming (London), December 1969.

Cinéma (Paris), November 1970.

Stills (London), May-June 1983.


On WALLIS: book—

Mancia, Adrienne, editor, Hal Wallis, Film Producer, New York, 1970.

On WALLIS: articles—

Kine Weekly (London), 20 September 1969.

"Wallis Issue" of Dialogue on Film (Beverly Hills, California), March 1975.

Cinématographe (Paris), May 1984.

Obituary in Variety (New York), 15 October 1986.

Obituary in Films and Filming (London), December 1986.

Obituary in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1986–87.

Film Comment (New York), July-August 1989.

Corliss, Richard, "14-Karat Oomph," in Film Comment (New York), July-August 1989.

Woodcock, J.M., "The Name Dropper," in American Cinemeditor (Encino), no. 1, 1990.

Edwards, Anne, "Hal Wallis: The Producer's Valley Farm," in Architectural Digest (Los Angeles), April 1992.

Dolven, F., "Hal B. Wallis: The golden-arm producer," in Classic Images, no. 220, October 1993.


* * *

Hal B.Wallis was one of the most important movie producers from the Golden Age of Hollywood filmmaking of the 1930s and 1940s. On one classic Warner Bros. movie after another Hal B.Wallis' name is listed under the title: Warner's studio boss, Jack L. Warner, was the brother in charge of the west coast studio, but surely his right-hand man, Hal Wallis, did most of the day to day work producing.

In the 1930s Wallis produced many of the classic genre films. Little Caesar, 'G' Men, and The Roaring Twenties defined the gangster form. There were few more honored films of the decade than I Am a Fugitive from the Chain Gang, Anthony Adverse, and Jezebel. Gold Diggers of 1933, Footlight Parade, 42nd Street, and Gold Diggers in Paris swung with music and dance. Captain Blood, The Charge of the Light Brigade, and The Adventures of Robin Hood defined what an adventure film should be.

Although film scholars have traditionally associated Wallis with his classic Warner period of the 1930s, he reached his creative peak at the studio in the early 1940s. Wallis produced a remarkable string of classic films: Sergeant York, The Maltese Falcon, High Sierra, The Bride Came C.O.D., The Strawberry Blond, Now, Voyager, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and Casablanca. But Wallis' career was hardly over when he left Warner Bros. in 1944. He would remain a key force in the Hollywood film industry until 1975, when he produced his final film, Rooster Cogburn, starring John Wayne in a sequel to yet another Wallis hit, the 1969 True Grit. In 1944 Wallis sought greater independence as a producer. Understandably he chaffed under the yoke provided by Jack L. Warner. He weighed several offers and went with Paramount. At Paramount Wallis' career fell into four phases. In the first he continued producing genre films, in this case thrillers in the late 1940s and westerns during the early 1950s. But his career changed dramatically in 1956 with the release of Artists and Models, setting in motion a string of Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin comedies. A third phase began in 1958 when Wallis began producing the predictable, but high-grossing films starring Elvis Presley. Few find these Elvis formula movies complex or sophisticated cinema, but they made money, lots of money. Indeed Blue Hawaii finished as the eleventh highest grossing film of all of 1962 according to Variety's figures.

Wallis' final period of filmmaking followed Elvis and lasted from 1964 to 1975. He is probably best remembered for making two very different types of films in this period. The first were westerns starring John Wayne including the aforementioned True Grit and Rooster Cogburn, as well as The Sons of Katie Elder. Far different were the tales of royalty, costume dramas which Wallis called in his autobiography his "royal histories." These included the very successful Becket, Anne of a Thousand Days, and Mary, Queen of Scots. Wallis was a consummate producer, taking project after project that both interested him and seemed destined to make a great deal of money. He skillfully flowed with the times, and in the process helped several major eras of Hollywood history. In nearly a half century he produced, coproduced, and/or supervised more than 400 films. Few individuals have been as successful as Hollywood producers; few have made a greater stamp in defining how Hollywood operated as a business.

—Douglas Gomery

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