Tyrus: The Tyrus Wong Story | Chicago Reader

Tyrus: The Tyrus Wong Story

2015

Hollywood lore and insights into Asian-American life during the FDR years distinguish this low-key documentary portrait of Tyrus Wong, a Chinese-American artist best known for his work at the Walt Disney Studios. Born in 1910, Wong emigrated to the U.S. with his father, grew up in the Chinatown district of Los Angeles, and managed to crash the white boys' club at Disney in the late 30s. His soft, suggestive background paintings, inspired by the ethereal landscapes of the Song dynasty, helped conjure the childlike emotions that power the classic Bambi (1942). Consulting various film scholars, director Pamela Tom makes an interesting case for Wong as an overlooked auteur of sorts, whose later storyboard illustrations set the tone for films ranging from Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) to Rebel Without a Cause (1955) to The Wild Bunch (1969). Wong, now well into his second century, offers candid reminiscences of the movie colony's casual racism, providing an outsider's perspective on a business that shunned Asians and thrived on stereotypes.

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