Cover image for Hal Wallis : producer to the stars
Hal Wallis : producer to the stars
Dick, Bernard F.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiv, 287 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1998.3.W343 D53 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Hal Wallis might not be as well known as David O. Selznick or Samuel Goldwyn, but the films he produced -- Casablanca, Jezebel, Now Voyager, The Life of Emile Zola, Becket, True Grit, and many other classics (as well as scores of Elvis movies) -- have certainly endured. As producer of numerous films, Wallis made an indelible mark on the course of America's film industry, but his contributions are often overlooked and no full-length study has yet assessed his incredible career.

A former office boy and salesman, Wallis first engaged with the business of film as the manager of a Los Angeles movie theater in 1922. He attracted the notice of the Warner brothers, who hired him as a publicity assistant. Within three months he was director of the department, and appointments to studio manager and production executive quickly followed. Wallis went on to oversee dozens of productions and formed his own production company in 1944.

Bernard F. Dick draws on numerous sources such as Wallis's personal production files and exclusive interviews with many of his contemporaries to finally tell the full story of his illustrious career. Dick combines his knowledge of behind-the-scenes Hollywood with fascinating anecdotes to create a portrait of one of Hollywood's early power players.

Author Notes

Bernard F. Dick , professor of communications and English at Fairleigh Dickinson University, is the author of numerous books on film history, including Engulfed: the Death of Paramount Pictures and the Birth of Corporate Hollywood .

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

In this era of multiple executive, associate, and coproducers, it is unlikely that anyone will ever again make the mark that Hal Wallis did in more than 320 films from 1931 to 1975. Like many in the business, Wallis (born Harold Walinsky) got his start through a relative. Beginning as a publicist, he established his major reputation at Warner Brothers, where he had a ten-year reign overseeing such classics as Casablanca, Little Caesar, and High Sierra. After leaving Warner, he never quite enjoyed the same cachet and became known mainly for shepherding the film careers of stars like Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, and Elvis Presley. As a complex, driven man who was both admired and feared, Wallis resembled his contemporaries. Dick (communications & English, Fairleigh Dickinson Univ.) draws on studio memos, personal correspondence, and original interviews to craft this profile, but, unfortunately, he rarely gets beneath his subject's external accomplishments to discern the man. His choppy style and sometimes muddled chronology can also be disconcerting. Recommended for large cinema collections; this is apparently the first full-length biography of Wallis (his autobiography, Starmaker, was not exactly a fount of reliable information).-Roy Liebman, California State Univ., Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Also author of Engulfed: The Death of Paramount Pictures ... (CH Jan '02), Columbia Pictures (CH, May '92), and Radical Innocence (CH, Oct '89), Dick (Fairleigh Dickinson Univ.) offers the first biography of the man who produced such films as The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, and True Grit during his 40-year career. This readable and well-documented book is enhanced by interviews with Wallis's widow and with numerous individuals who worked with Wallis in Hollywood, and with quotes from (or summaries of) written interoffice correspondence. Dick also clarifies information included in Wallis's autobiography Starmaker (1980). Unfortunately, the book has a few shortcomings. Coverage of some of the films is uneven; the bibliography does not include all the numerous sources cited in the notes; the filmography omits films produced at Warner Bros. (1930-42) and lists only the titles and release dates of films produced from 1942 through 1975; the index is woefully incomplete. And one wishes for a picture of Wallis's mother and sisters among the book's family photographs, especially since his sister Minna Wallis was a well-known Hollywood agent. These caveats aside, this is a useful volume. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All collections; all levels. C. McCutcheon University of South Carolina Upstate