Skip to main content

Wilde, Cornel

WILDE, Cornel


Nationality: American. Born: Cornelius Louis Wilde in New York City, 13 October 1915. Education: Attended Townsend Harris High School, New York; studied art in Budapest; attended Columbia University, New York, briefly; College of the City of New York, premed degree; studied acting with Lee Strasberg. Family: Married 1) the actress Patricia Knight, 1938 (divorced 1951), one daughter; 2) the actress Jean Wallace, 1951 (divorced 1980), one son. Career: 1940—member of the U.S. Olympic training squad in saber; on stage in New York: debut in Moon over Mulberry Street, and in Olivier and Leigh's Romeo and Juliet on Broadway; film debut in The Lady with Red Hair: short contract with Warner Brothers; then contract with 20th Century-Fox; 1945—role in A Song to Remember brought national popularity and leading man status; 1955—formed Theodora Productions; first film directed was Storm Fear, 1956. Died: Of leukemia, in Los Angeles, 16 October 1989.


Films as Actor:

1940

The Lady with Red Hair (Bernhardt) (bit role)

1941

High Sierra (Walsh); Kisses for Breakfast (Seiler) (as Chet Oakley); The Perfect Snob (McCarey) (as Mike Lord)

1942

Right to the Heart (Knockout) (Clemens); Life Begins at 8:30 (Pichel) (as Robert); Manila Calling (Leeds) (as Jeff Bailey)

1943

Guest in the House (Brahm); Wintertime (Brahm) (as Freddie Austin)

1945

A Thousand and One Nights (Green) (as Aladdin); A Song to Remember (Vidor) (as Chopin); Leave Her to Heaven (Stahl) (as Richard Harland)

1946

The Bandit of Sherwood Forest (Sherman) (as Robin Hood); Centennial Summer (Preminger) (as Philippe Lascalles)

1947

Forever Amber (Preminger) (as Bruce Carlton); It Had to Be You (Maté and Hartman) (as George/Johnny Blaine); Stairway for a Star (as Jimmy Banks); The Homestretch (Humberstone) (as Jock Wallace)

1948

Road House (Negulesco) (as Pete Morgan); The Walls of Jericho (Stahl) (as Dave Connors)

1949

Four Days Leave (Lindtberg) (as Stanley Robin); Shockproof (Sirk) (as Griff Marat)

1950

Two Flags West (Wise) (as Captain Mark Bradford)

1952

At Sword's Point (Sons of the Musketeers) (Allen) (as D'Artagnan); The Greatest Show on Earth (DeMille) (as Sebastian); Operation Secret (Seiler) (as Peter Forrester); California Conquest (Landers) (as Don Arturo Bordega)

1953

Saadia (Lewin) (as Si Lahssen); Treasure of the Golden Condor (Daves) (as Jean-Paul); Main Street to Broadway (Garnett) (as himself); Star of India (Lewin) (as Pierre St. Laurent)

1954

Passion (Dwan) (as Jean Obregon); Woman's World (Negulesco) (as Bill Baxter)

1955

The Scarlet Coat (Sturges) (as Major John Bolton)

1956

Hot Blood (Ray) (as Stephen Torino)

1957

Omar Khayyam (Dieterle) (title role); Beyond Mombasa (Marshall) (as Matt Campbell)

1959

Edge of Eternity (Siegel) (as Lee Martin)

1962

Constantine the Great (Constantine and the Cross) (De Felice) (title role)

1969

The Comic (Reiner and Ruben) (as Frank Powers)

1971

Gargoyles (Norton—for TV) (as Mercer Boley)

1978

The Norseman (Pierce) (as Raynar)

1979

The Fifth Musketeer (Annakin) (as D'Artagnan, + co-sc)

1985

Flesh and Bullets (Tobalina)



Films as Producer:

1955

The Big Combo (Lewis) (+ ro as Diamond)

1970

No Blade of Grass (+ d, ro as narrator)

1975

Shark's Treasure (+ d, sc, ro as Jim)



Films as Director:

1956

Storm Fear (+ ro as Charlie); The Devil's Hairpin (+ ro as Nick Jargin)

1958

Maracaibo (+ ro as Bic Scott)

1963

Lancelot and Guinevere (Sword of Lancelot) (+ ro as Lancelot)

1966

The Naked Prey (+ title role)

1967

Beach Red (+ ro as Captain MacDonald)



Publications


By WILDE: articles—

"Survival!," interview in Films and Filming (London), October 1970.

Interview in Film Reader (Evanston, Illinois), no. 2, January 1977.


On WILDE: books—

Parish, James Robert, and Don E. Stanke, The Swashbucklers, New Rochelle, New York, 1976.

Richards, Jeffrey, Swordsmen of the Screen: From Douglas Fairbanks to Michael York, London, 1977.


On WILDE: articles—

Coen, John, "Producer-Director Cornel Wilde," in Film Comment (New York), spring 1970.

Photoplay (London), February 1981.

Obituary in Variety (New York), 18 October 1989.

Krohn, B., "Cornel Wilde, cinéaste," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), December 1989.

Brock, A., "Cornel Wilde—My Good Hungarian Friend," in Classic Images (Muscatine), April 1992.

Atkinson, Michael, "Naked Prey," in Film Comment (New York), November-December 1996.


* * *

In spite of an early Academy Award nomination for best actor in A Song to Remember, Cornel Wilde has been remembered as a reliable masculine presence in a series of half-remembered films. Occasionally, as in DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth, Wilde stood out. His vain trapeze artist who sees the light was a commentary on some of his earlier swashbuckling roles.

As an actor-director-producer, however, Cornel Wilde deserves a vote as the most neglected creator in film of the last quarter of a century. Wilde directed eight films, starring in all but one. He began his career as an independent producer with The Big Combo in 1955. In all of the films he controlled, Wilde's character had to face extreme natural and physical danger, and prove himself equal to them or be destroyed. As director and actor Wilde always chose to shoot on location, to experience the danger himself. On more than one occasion, Wilde, a former collegiate fencer, risked death to get a shot.

Wilde's commitment was so complete that Shark's Treasure may rank as one of the most dangerous movies ever made. During the filming, on a small island in the Caribbean, Wilde and his crew actually battled sharks in single takes with no help from the magic of editing. In another sequence, the cast has to make its way through surf which can best be described as terrifying. As in his other films, Wilde clearly tests himself and his cast as he does his fictional characters.

In The Naked Prey Wilde's concept of individuality, survival, and loyalty is clearly evident. The film contains only a few lines of English dialogue. It is virtually a silent tour de force for Wilde. The tactile element in Naked Prey is, perhaps, one of the most singular features. Death and torture are graphic, nightmarishly so. The natives—initially seen as loathesomely barbaric—club, bake, stab, and torment their victims. Wilde, running naked through the jungle, tastes a plant, eats a snake, tumbles down a rocky waterfall, dances wildly in a brush fire. One by one, his pursuers catch him, and fall in individual and personal combat. As they pursue and die, mourn and argue, fight and weep, they become personalized and human for the viewer. The question, "What is a villain?," is made uncertain, as it is when dealing with the Japanese in Beach Red, the murderous young man in No Blade of Grass, and Lobo in Shark's Treasure.


—Stuart M. Kaminsky

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Wilde, Cornel." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Wilde, Cornel." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 18, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/wilde-cornel

"Wilde, Cornel." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Retrieved December 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/wilde-cornel

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.