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Edmund Goulding's Dark Victory: Hollywood's Genius Bad Boy

Overview

Edmund Goulding’s Dark Victory: Hollywood’s Genius Bad Boy is the first biography ever written about this eccentric genius of early-twentieth-century filmmaking. Goulding (1891–1959) was by turns a writer, producer, composer, and actor, but it is as a director that he made an indelible impression. He is most remembered today as the director of Grand Hotel, the great Event Movie of the Depression. At the dawn of sound, he wrote the story for the Academy Award–winning musical The Broadway Melody and collaborated ...

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Overview

Edmund Goulding’s Dark Victory: Hollywood’s Genius Bad Boy is the first biography ever written about this eccentric genius of early-twentieth-century filmmaking. Goulding (1891–1959) was by turns a writer, producer, composer, and actor, but it is as a director that he made an indelible impression. He is most remembered today as the director of Grand Hotel, the great Event Movie of the Depression. At the dawn of sound, he wrote the story for the Academy Award–winning musical The Broadway Melody and collaborated memorably with Gloria Swanson and Joseph Kennedy for The Trespasser. He excelled at anti-war drama (White Banners, The Dawn Patrol, We Are Not Alone), fantastic Bette Davis weepies (Dark Victory, The Old Maid, The Great Lie), lilting romantic dramas (The Constant Nymph, Claudia), big-budget literary adaptations (The Razor’s Edge), and even film noir (Nightmare Alley). The London-born Goulding was a complicated and contradictory man whose notorious orgies, bisexuality, drinking, and drug addictions were whispered about in Hollywood for years. Yet his well-crafted plots and compelling characters set a new standard in American cinema and had a profound influence on the future of filmmaking.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Perhaps one of the most highly regarded of the great Hollywood directors in his own time, Edmund Goulding has been largely forgotten. His greatest films (e.g., Grand Hotel) are still widely honored, but few people remember that he directed them. A possible reason for his obscurity is that, much like his contemporary, George Cukor (My Fair Lady), he was regarded as a mere "women's" director; he successfully worked with, and was admired by, such notoriously difficult actresses as Greta Garbo, Gloria Swanson, and Bette Davis. Kennedy (anthropology, City Coll. of San Francisco) has gone a long way toward rescuing Goulding from obscurity by writing what is apparently the first full-length biography. Goulding was born in England, where he acted before setting off for Hollywood; there, he impressed most people with his talent and became a successful scenario writer before he entered directing. A sybaritic and unashamed bisexual, he gave wild, lavish parties and continued directing almost until his death in 1959, though his most productive period had ended more than a decade earlier. Although his style is a bit pedestrian, Kennedy has performed a long-overdue service for an unfairly forgotten talent. Recommended for all cinema collections.-Roy Liebman, California State Univ. Lib., Los Angeles Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299197704
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2004
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Matthew Kennedy teaches anthropology at City College of San Francisco and film history at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has written for numerous publications and is author of Marie Dressler.

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Table of Contents

Illustrations ix
Acknowledgments x
Foreword xiii
Introduction xv
1 The Butcher's Boy 3
2 Home in America 16
3 A Natty Director 40
4 "An Inconceivable Vaudeville Is Now Being Born!" 58
5 Hits and Misses 76
6 The Lion Tamer 107
7 Exile 131
8 Men and Women 162
9 The Greatest Year 178
10 Health, Money, and War 197
11 Where Do the Searchers Go? 220
12 A Masterpiece of Compromise 241
13 On the Rocks 253
14 A Quiet Finish 275
Notes and Sources 287
Filmography 297
Stageography 314
Select Bibliography 316
Index 320
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2004

    A MAJOR TALENT BROUGHT BACK INTO THE SPOTLIGHT

    I was very pleased that finally someone has written a full-length treatment of versatile film director Edmund Goulding. Not only does the author explore the many facets of his enormously popular film career, but delves into the subject's many other talents (play writing, song writing, etc). Of importance to anyone interested in the cultural history of Hollywood is the author's detailed evocation of the era in which Goulding reigned (1930s-1940s) and Kennedy brings forth a fascinating tapesty of the director's offbeat personal/sexual life. Like the author's past book (on comedienne Marie Dressler--another too often unsung talent)this new work on Edmund Goulding shines a bright light on a major Hollywood personality who deserved (and NOW FINALLY HAS) a solid examination and strong evaluation. Good job!!

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