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Goldwyn: The Man and His Movies
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Goldwyn: The Man and His Movies

Director: Mark Catalena, Peter Jones

Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Samuel Goldwyn Jr.

 
This documentary, produced for PBS's American Masters series, is based on A. Scott Berg's well-received biography of Samuel L. Goldwyn (1882-1974), Hollywood's first and likely still greatest independent producer. (Berg cowrote the screenplay.) Like many Hollywood pioneers, Goldwyn was born in Europe in modest circumstances, began his professional life in

Overview

This documentary, produced for PBS's American Masters series, is based on A. Scott Berg's well-received biography of Samuel L. Goldwyn (1882-1974), Hollywood's first and likely still greatest independent producer. (Berg cowrote the screenplay.) Like many Hollywood pioneers, Goldwyn was born in Europe in modest circumstances, began his professional life in America in another business (selling gloves), and then fell into motion pictures, in Goldwyn's case, just as production was moving to the West Coast. His first film, with partner Jessie L. Lasky, was The Squaw Man, directed by Cecil B. DeMille and shot on location in the newly minted community of Hollywood. Goldwyn's career was slow getting started, but he hit his stride in the sound era, with literary adaptations of Sinclair Lewis's Arrowsmith and Dodsworth, Lillian Hellman's These Three and The Little Foxes (which Goldwyn, famous for slips of speech, always referred to as The Three Little Foxes), Sidney Kingsley's Dead End, and Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. He also made the first two screen versions of the venerable weepie, Stella Dallas, produced Eddie Cantor's big foray into film, Whoopee, and made the iconic baseball biography, Pride of the Yankees. Goldwyn finally reached the pinnacle of movie success in 1946 with The Best Years of Our Lives, which brought him his first Oscar for Best Picture. His postwar career arc was largely downward; two big musicals, Guys and Dolls and especially Porgy and Bess, failed to capture the public attention in spite of lavish production values and big-name casts. The newly filmed interviews, mostly with the surviving members of the Goldwyn family, including his son Sam Goldwyn, Jr., his daughter from his first marriage, Ruth Capps, and his actor grandson Tony Goldwyn, offer insights into Goldwyn the man, while excerpts from vintage interviews with Bette Davis, William Wyler, John Huston, Rouben Mamoulian, Lillian Hellman, Danny Kaye, Dana Andrews, Merle Oberon, and Laurence Olivier (doing a hilarious impression of Goldwyn) offer glimpses into his working persona.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
Although not breaking any formal ground in the tried if not always true formula of TV biography shows, Goldwyn rises above the pack on the strength of its origins: A. Scott Berg's superb biography of the legendary independent film producer. Berg cowrote the script and appears often to add invaluable insights. But it's the fact that he not only had the cooperation of the Goldwyn family when he wrote the book but also when this film was made that pushes it into the first rank. Like Berg's book, the film is as scrupulous at recording its subject's shortcomings as his virtues, both as a professional and as a family man. Particularly poignant is the testimony from Sam Goldwyn, Jr., his wife Peggy Goldwyn, Leonora Hornblow, widow of producer and Goldwyn associate Arthur Hornblow, Jr., and Ruth Capps, Goldwyn's daughter from his first marriage--and the real star of this film with her sharp opinions. They offer insights into Goldwyn's marriage to the former Frances Howard, an actress who admitted after marrying Goldwyn to having a cash register where her heart should have been, and whose first real love was director George Cukor. The film doesn't dwell on but makes good use of what it calls Goldwyn's "conflicted feelings about motherhood" and how it was manifested in such films as Stella Dallas, a property he shot twice. The filmmakers have done their homework, ferreting out snippets of archival interviews with Goldwyn associates, most notably William Wyler, who directed two of Goldwyn's best films, Wuthering Heights and The Best Years of Our Lives. What this film does more successfully that most of its type is to give full credit to its subject's achievements while offering nuanced psychological insight.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/09/2001
UPC:
0043396078017
Original Release:
2001
Rating:
NR
Source:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Sound:
[stereo]
Time:
1:58:00

Special Features

Digitally mastered audio and video; Full-screen presentation; Language: English [stereo]; Subtitles: English; Bonus trailers; Samuel Goldwyn filmography; Interactive menus; Scene selections

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Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Scene Selections
1. Start [9:44]
2. Vision of the future [2:30]
3. The Squaw Man [3:53]
4. Famous Players-Lasky [2:14]
5. Goldwn Pictures [3:39]
6. Metro-Goldwn-Mayer [2:43]
7. Samuel Goldwyn,Inc. [1:55]
8. Frances Howard [4:27]
9. Stella Dallas(1926) [2:01]
10. The Winning Of Barbara Worth [4:48]
11. Bulldog Drummond [1:20]
12. Whoopee! [3:47]
13. Street Scene [:29]
14. Anna Sten [7:55]
15. These Three [1:31]
16. Dodsworth [3:27]
17. Dead End [1:49]
18. Stella Dallas(1937) [3:18]
19. Wuthering Heights [8:49]
20. The Little Foxes [3:23]
21. The Pride Of The Yankees [1:59]
22. Bob Hope [1:08]
23. Danny Kaye [5:48]
24. The Best Years Of Our Lives [18:41]
25. Hans Christian Andersen [1:12]
26. Guys And Dolls [4:58]
27. Porgy And Bess [3:40]
28. Medal of Freedom [6:08]

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