Hal B. Wallis

Pioneering movie moguls

A case can be made that no head of production at any studio put his name (and his imprint of care, smarts and taste) on so many outstanding pictures. In the first few years of the Irving Thalberg Award, Wallis won it twice, in 1938 and 1943 — in those years, he was in charge of such best picture winners as “The Life of Emile Zola” and “Casablanca,” as well as contenders like “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” “Four Daughters,” “Jezebel,” “Dark Victory,” “The Letter,” “The Maltese Falcon,” “Sergeant York” and many more. Wallis joined Warners in 1922, and he worked his way up to a production executive. He promoted the studio’s hard-boiled male stars while finding a way to make Bette Davis shine. In 1945, Wallis moved to Paramount, where he did Martin & Lewis pictures, Elvis films and such things as “Becket” and “Anne of the Thousand Days.” Paramount was not the same, but that was hardly Wallis’ fault.

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