Robert Earl Wise (September 10, 1914 – September 14, 2005) was an American sound effects editor, film editor, and Academy Award-winning film producer and director. Among his many famous films are Citizen Kane (as an editor), The Sand Pebbles, The Sound of Music, West Side Story, The Hindenburg, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Day the Earth Stood Still; Run Silent, Run Deep; The Andromeda Strain, The Set-Up, The Haunting, and The Body Snatcher. Wise's working period spanned the 1930s to the 1990s.
Often contrasted with contemporary "auteur" directors such as Stanley Kubrick who tended to bring a distinctive directorial "look" to a particular genre, Wise is famously viewed to have allowed his (sometimes studio assigned) story dictate style. Later critics such as Martin Scorsese would go on to expand that characterization, insisting that despite Wise's notorious workaday concentration on stylistic perfection within the confines of genre and budget, his choice of subject matter and approach still functioned to identify Wise as an artist and not merely an artisan. Through whatever means, Wise's approach would bring him critical success as a director in many different traditional film genres: from horror to noir to Western to war films to science fiction, to musical and drama, with many repeat hits within each genre. Wise's tendency towards professionalism led to a degree of preparedness which, though nominally motivated by studio budget constraints, nevertheless advanced the moviemaking art, with many Academy Award-winning films the result.
Wise was born in Winchester, Indiana, the son of Olive R. (née Longenecker) and Earl W. Wise, a meat packer. Wise attended Connersville High School in Connersville, Indiana, and its auditorium, the Robert E. Wise Center for Performing Arts, is named in his honor. Wise began his movie career at RKO as a sound and music editor, but he soon grew to being nominated for the Academy Award for Film Editing for Citizen Kane in 1941: Wise was that film's last living crew member.