Fade Out – William Wyler


Episode 13 - William Wyler's THE LIBERATION OF L.B. JONES with Special Guest Jill Blake.

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6 responses to “Fade Out – William Wyler

  1. First, thank you for bringing this film to my attention. It’s an amazing, but brutally honest film. I’m of course familiar with Wyler through his more famous works. The Best Years of our Lives is one of my all time favorites. This film is tough as nails, but the hardest part to accept is this is STILL going on FIFTY years later! I’ve commented about my experiences before, do I won’t go into them here, I’d rather comment about the movie.
    The performances are excellent. The movie is gritty and bleak. There is only one hero here. The character of L.B. Jones. A man just trying to live in dignity. A man justifiably trying to divorce his horrible adulterous, gold digging wife. A man sho decides he’s tired of running, hiding, and bowing his head to a racist society. Unfortunately, the movie is as punishing to its hero as reality often is. That’s the unflinching truth, and this film presents that in a bold and powerful statement. “Oh well, something terrible has happened, but let’s just sweep it under the rug in favor of the status quo.”
    This movie has to be seen by more people.

    1. Thanks for listening Matt!

      I’m really glad you liked the movie and that the show helped bring it to your attention. Not a “fun” watch by most standards, but certainly a well-crafted film.

  2. It’s funny Jill mentioned Billy Wilder because for a while there, I always confused him with William Wyler. Like… which was which? I’m better now.

    His movies I have seen: Roman Holiday, The Best Years of Our Lives, Ben-Hur, The Chlidren’s Hour, Dodsworth, and Hell’s Heroes (I feel like this last one was on your recommendation..?). I have not seen this one and it’s not on Canadian Prime (the streaming service is pretty good for TV shows but just awful for movies on this side of the border).

    I agree that directors talking about their love of film (as opposed to pimping their own stuff) is often great. One of my favorite things on the Criterion Channel is Adventures in Moviegoing where they let someone curate a list of movies and briefly discuss each. Sometimes you just press play on the movie in question because you’re so taken with the enthusiasm (and of course they have lots of stuff like this pulled from their fancy DVD extras). For example, you were talking about del Toro, and he did one of those Adventures. His list includes: Renoir’s La chienne, Vampyr, 1934’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, Eyes Without a Face, Virisiana, Kwaidan, The Spirit of the Beehive (oh I really love this one), Canoa: A Shameful Memory, Time Bandits, and Blood Simple. It’s one of the longest lists of anyone. Are you surprised?

  3. Rob, you and Jill taught me a lot and made this an enjoyable lesson. Everything I know about Wyler I learned on this network. I’ve seen at least one and probably a few of his very diverse films without paying attention to who directed them, but now I will seek them out. In addition to being one of the best directors in history, he sounds like he might have been an admirable person.

    Regarding Wyler’s final film, I’ll have to watch it, but I bet I’ll be alone when I do. Most of the people I know, despite agreeing strongly with the message, would avoid that emotional wringer in their down time. A couple of my daughters might watch it with me, but I’m not sure I would want them to see a small town in the Deep South that way. We’d have to talk about it.

    I grew up not too far from Humboldt, starting about a decade after those events. I think our county had a better record and better attitudes as far as race relations went, but that was probably a product of demographics, economics, and some very important work done in the intervening years. I still saw examples of racism, of course, and I’ve seen plenty of bigotry and corruption around the world since. Some of the decisions you described as surprising didn’t sound as surprising to me, but I don’t know if that’s because my expectations are different or because I was hearing about the movie, not watching it. In other words, I wonder if my ability to feel outrage about the events in the film has been muted, or if the storytelling and characterization would suck me in and enable me to have the same reaction you and Jill had. I’ll have to watch it and see.

    I’ll pay special attention to Lee Majors’ character and his tepid disapproval of evil. I’m afraid we might have too much in common.

    1. Oh, and I’d love to learn more about why Wyler thought he had nothing to bring to The Sound of Music. He was an antiracist director from a place that had been part of Germany when he lived there, so I thought that was surprising.

  4. I don’t know if this episode will inspire me to watch The Liberation of L.B. Jones as late 60s/early 70s movies are really hit and miss for me, with there being far more misses than not. However, I am going to take a look at some of Wyler’s movies, particularly his earlier work like Dodsworth, The Letter, and Little Foxes. I’ve never seen Dodsworth, so I’ve got that on that high my list.

    I also finally started watching the Fiver Came Back documentary (not to be confused with the 1939 Lucille Ball film – right, Rob? Haha!). I suppose I should read Harris’s book as well, but I’ve already got his Pictures At a Revolution in my pile to read.

    Anyway, I thoroughly enjoy this look into William Wyler and his tremendous career. Thanks!

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