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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

King Vidor
King Vidor Film Daily 1919.png
Trade paper advertisement, 1919
Born
King Wallis Vidor

(1894-02-08)February 8, 1894
DiedNovember 1, 1982(1982-11-01) (aged 88)
Other namesKing W. Vidor
OccupationFilm director, producer, screenwriter
Years active1913–1980
Spouse(s)
Florence Arto
(m. 1915; div. 1924)

Eleanor Boardman
(m. 1926; div. 1931)

Elizabeth Hill
(m. 1932; her death 1978)
Children3

King Wallis Vidor (/ˈvdɔːr/; February 8, 1894 – November 1, 1982) was an American film director, film producer, and screenwriter whose 67-year film-making career successfully spanning the silent and sound eras. His works are distinguished by a vivid, humane and sympathetic depiction of contemporary social issues. Considered an auteur director, Vidor approached multiple genres and allowed the subject matter to determine the style, often pressing the limits of movie-making conventions.[1]

His most outstanding and successful film in the silent era is The Big Parade (1925).[2] Vidor's sound films of the 1940s and early 1950s represent his richest output. Among his finest works are Northwest Passage (1940), Comrade X (1940), An American Romance  (1944) and Duel in the Sun (1946).[3] His dramatic depictions of the American western landscape endow nature with a sinister force where his characters struggle for survival and redemption.[4][5][6]

Vidor's earlier films tend to identify with the common people in a collective struggle, whereas his later works place individualists at the center of his narratives.[7][8]

Considered an “actors’ director” many of his players received Academy Award nominations or awards, among them Wallace Beery, Robert Donat, Barbara Stanwyck, Jennifer Jones, Anne Shirley and Lillian Gish.[9]

Vidor was nominated five times by the Academy Awards for Best Director and In 1979 was awarded an Honorary Academy Award for his "incomparable achievements as a cinematic creator and innovator."[10] Additionally, he won eight national and international film awards during his career, including the Screen Directors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 1957.

In 1979, he was awarded an Honorary Academy Award for his "incomparable achievements as a cinematic creator and innovator."[11] He was nominated five times for the Academy Award for Best Director, and won eight international film awards during his career. Vidor's best known films include The Big Parade (1925), The Crowd (1928), Stella Dallas (1937), and Duel in the Sun (1946). Contrary to common belief, he is not related to fellow director Charles Vidor.

Early life and career

Vidor was born into a well-to-do family in Galveston, Texas, the son of Kate (née Wallis) and Charles Shelton Vidor, a lumber importer and mill owner. His grandfather, Károly Charles Vidor, was a refugee of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, who settled in Galveston in the early 1850s. [12] Vidor's mother, Kate Wallis, of Scotch-English descent, was a relative of the second wife of iconic frontiersman and politician Davy Crockett.[13] The “King” in King Vidor is no sobriquet, but his given name in honor of his mother's favorite brother, King Wallis.[14][15]

At the age of six, Vidor witnessed the devastation of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. Based on that formative experience, he published a historical memoir of the disaster, titled "Southern Storm", for the May 1935 issue of Esquire magazine.[16] He survived the great Galveston Hurricane of 1900. Based on that experience, he published a fictionalized account of that hurricane, titled "Southern Storm", for the May 1935 issue of Esquire magazine[17] In an interview with the Director’s Guild of America (DGA) in 1980 Vidor recalled the horrors of the hurricane's effects:

"All the wooden structures of the town were flattened...[t]he streets were piled high with dead people, and I took the first tugboat out. On the boat I went up into the bow and saw that the bay was filled with dead bodies, horses, animals, people, everything." [18]

In 1939, he would direct the cyclone scene for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's The Wizard of Oz)[19]

Vidor was introduced to Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science by his mother at a very early age. Vidor would endow his films with the moral precepts of the faith, a “blend of pragmatic self-help and religious mysticism.” [20]

Vidor attended grade school at the Peacock Military Academy.[21]

Vidor (with megaphone) and crew on a Hacker-Craft speedboat to film water sequences for his 1928 MGM picture The Patsy
Vidor (with megaphone) and crew on a Hacker-Craft speedboat to film water sequences for his 1928 MGM picture The Patsy

A freelance newsreel cameraman and cinema projectionist, Vidor made his debut as a director in 1913 with The Grand Military Parade. In Hollywood from 1915, he worked as a screenwriter and as director of a series of at least ten[22] short juvenile-delinquency films for Judge Willis Brown before directing his first feature, The Turn in the Road, in 1919. A successful mounting of Peg o' My Heart in 1922 won him a long-term contract with Goldwyn Pictures (later to be absorbed into Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer). Three years later he made The Big Parade, among the most acclaimed war films of the silent era, and a tremendous commercial success. This success established him as one of MGM's top studio directors for the next decade. In 1928, Vidor received his first Oscar nomination, for The Crowd, widely regarded as his masterpiece and one of the greatest American silent films. In the same year he made his much-loved screwball comedy The Patsy starring Marion Davies, which was the first of three films she did for Vidor over the next two years. Later that year he made the classic Show People, a comedy about the film industry which also starred Davies (in which Vidor had a cameo as himself), and was his last silent film.

Vidor's first sound film was Hallelujah, a groundbreaking film featuring an African-American cast. He had no difficulty adjusting to sound and he continued making feature films until the late 1950s. Some of his better known sound films include Stella Dallas, Our Daily Bread, The Citadel, Duel in the Sun, The Fountainhead, and War and Peace. He directed the Kansas sequences in The Wizard of Oz (including "Over the Rainbow" and the twister) when director Victor Fleming had to replace George Cukor on Gone with the Wind, but did not receive screen credit.

Vidor featured in the February 21, 1920 issue of Exhibitors Herald
Vidor featured in the February 21, 1920 issue of Exhibitors Herald

In 1962, he was head of the jury at the 12th Berlin International Film Festival.[23] In 1969 he was a member of the jury at the 6th Moscow International Film Festival.[24]

Vidor was entered in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest career as a film director: beginning in 1913 with Hurricane in Galveston and ending in 1980 with The Metaphor, a 36-minute documentary featuring the painter Andrew Wyeth. He was nominated five times for an Oscar but never won in direct competition; he received an honorary award in 1979.

Amateur apprenticeship in Galveston

As a boy, Vidor engaged in photographing and developing portraits of his relatives with a Box Brownie camera.[25]

At the age of sixteen Vidor dropped out of a private high school in Maryland and returned to Galveston to work as a Nickelodeon ticket taker and projectionist. As an 18-year-old amateur newsreel cameraman Vidor began to acquire skills as a film documentarian. His first movie was based on footage taken of a local hurricane (not to be confused with the 1900 Galveston hurricane). He sold footage from a Houston army parade to a newsreel outfit (titled The Grand Military Parade) and made his first fictional movie, a semi-docucomedy concerning a local automobile race, In Tow (1913).[26]

Hotex Motion Picture Company

Vidor, in a partnership with vaudevillian and movie entrepreneur Edward Sedgwick formed the Hotex Motion Picture Company in 1914 (“HO” for Houston, “TEX” for Texas) to produce low-budget one- or two-reelers. The enterprise garnered a national press release in Moving Picture World announcing its formation. Only still photos survive from these comedy-adventures, for which Hotex failed to collect any royalties.[27]

In 1915 newlyweds Vidor and actress Florence Arto Vidor, with business partner Sedgwick, immigrated to California in search of employment in the emerging Hollywood movie industry, arriving on the West Coast virtually penniless. [28]

Hollywood Apprenticeship: 1915-1918

Based on a screen test arranged by Texas actress Corinne Griffith and shot by Charles Rosher in Hollywood, Florence Vidor procured a contract with Vitagraph Studios, marking the start of her successful movie career. Vidor obtained minor roles acting at Vitagraph and Inceville studios (the spy drama The Intrigue (1916) survives, in which Vidor plays a chauffeur.) As a low-level office clerk at Universal, he was fired for trying to present his own scripts under the pseudonym “Charles K. Wallis”, but soon was rehired by the studio as a writer of shorts.[29][30]

Judge Willis Brown Series

Beginning in 1915, Vidor served as screenwriter and director on a series of shorts about the rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents by social reformer Judge Willis Brown. Written and produced by Brown, Vidor filmed ten of the 20-film series, a project in which Vidor declared he had “deeply believed”. A single reel from Bud's Recruit is known to survive, the earliest extant footage from Vidor's film career..[31][32]

Brentwood Film Corporation and the “Preachment” films, 1918-1919

In 1918, at the age of 24, Vidor directed his first Hollywood feature, The Turn in the Road, a film presentation of a Christian Science evangelical tract sponsored by a group of doctors and dentists affiliated as the independent Brentwood Film Corporation. King Vidor recalls his first foray into Hollywood film-making:

I wrote a script [The Turn in the Road] and sent it around... and nine doctors put up $1,000 each... and it was a success. That was the beginning. I didn't have time to go to college.[33]

Vidor would make three more films for the Brentwood Corporation, all of which featured as yet unknown comedienne Zasu Pitts, who the director had discovered on a Hollywood streetcar. Better Times, The Other Half, and Poor Relations, all completed in 1919, also featured future film director David Butler (director) and starring Vidor's then wife Florence Arto Vidor (married in 1915), a rising actor in Hollywood pictures Vidor ended his association with the Brentwood group in 1920.[34]

”Vidor Village” and First National Exhibitors, 1920-1925

King Vidor next embarked on a major project in collaboration with a major New York-based film exhibitor First National. In a bid to compete with the increasingly dominant Hollywood studios, First National advanced Vidor funding to build a small film production facility in Santa Monica, California dubbed Vidor Village. King Vidor issued a founding statement entitled “Creed and Pledge” that set forth moral anodynes for film-making, inspired by his Christian Science religious faith:[35][36]

I believe in the motion picture that carries a message to humanity.

I believe in the picture that will help humanity to free itself from the shackles of fear and suffering that have so long bound it in chains.

I will not knowingly produce a picture that contains anything that i do not believe to be absolutely true to human nature, anything that could injure anyone or anything unclean in thought or action.

Nor will I deliberately portray anything to cause fright, suggest fear, glorify mischief, condone cruelty or extenuate malice.

I will never picture evil or wrong, except to prove the fallacy of its line.

So long as I direct pictures, I will make only those founded on the principles of right, and I will endeavor to draw upon the inexhaustible source of good for my stories, my guidance and my inspiration.[37]

His manifesto” was carried in Variety magazine's January 1920 issue.[38]

The first production from Vidor Village was his The Jack Knife Man (1920), a bleak and bitter story of an orphaned boy raised by an impoverished yet kindly hermit, performed by former stage actor Fred Turner. Through entrepreneurial efforts he achieved financial success and is ultimately rewarded with the affection of a gentlewoman, played by Florence Vidor. Redolent with the precepts of the “Creed and Pledge”, the films ``relentless realism” did not please the executives at First National. They demanded entertainment that would garner a mass share of box-office receipts so as to fill their theaters. [39]

As film critic and biographer John Baxter observed “[t]his experience had a fundamental effect on Vidor's attitude toward film-making.” Under pressure “as the studio system began to harden into place”, the 26-year-old Vidor began to craft his films to conform to prevailing standards of the period. His 1920 film. The Family Honor exemplifies this shift towards romantic comedies and away from the ideals that had informed The Jack Knife Man.[40]

King Vidor and Colleen Moore on location for The Sky Pilot near Truckee, California
King Vidor and Colleen Moore on location for The Sky Pilot near Truckee, California

Vidor's The Sky Pilot (1921) was a big-budget Western-Comedy shot on location in the high Sierra Nevada of California. John Bowers stars as the intrepid preacher and Colleen Moore (soon to be famous as the quintessential “flapper”) as the girl he loves and rescues from a deadly cattle stampede. The natural landscapes serve as an essential dramatic component in the film, as they would in subsequent Vidor movies. The cost overruns cut into First National profits, and they declined to fund any further Vidor projects. [41]

Love Never Dies (1921) is a “rural love story” with a spectacular disaster scene depicting a locomotive and box cars derailing and plunging into a river below. The dramatic presentation of rivers served as a standard motif in Vidor films. Impressed, producer Thomas H. Ince helped to finance the picture.[42]

In 1922, Vidor produced and directed films that served as vehicles for his spouse, Florence Vidor, notable only for their “artificiality”. These works conformed to the comedies of manners and romantic melodramas that were typical of his contemporary, Cecil B. DeMille at Famous Players-Lasky studios. Later, Vidor admitted to being overawed by DeMille's talents. Florence Vidor, in her later career, frequently starred in DeMille productions.[43]

Vidor's next picture, Conquering the Woman, was an unabashed imitation of DeMille's outstanding drama Male and Female (1919). Vidor followed up with Woman, Wake Up and The Real Adventure (both 1922) and each depicting a female struggling successfully to assert herself in a male dominated world As such, these may be considered as early examples of feminist-oriented cinema, but with entirely conventional endings. [44][45]

By the early 1920s, Florence Vidor had emerged as a major film star in her own right and wished to pursue her career independent of her spouse. The couple divorced in 1926, and shortly thereafter Florence married violinist Jascha Heifetz Vidor would soon marry model and future film actress Eleanor Boardman. [46]

In 1921, Vidor would direct actress Colleen Moore in The Sky Pilot and they would begin a three-year romance that became “a Hollywood legend”.[47]

Vidor Village went bankrupt in 1922. Vidor, now without a studio, offered his services to the top executives in the film industry.[48]

Metro and Peg o' My Heart (1922)

Film producer Louis B. Mayer engaged Vidor to direct Broadway actress Laurette Taylor in a film version of her famous juvenile role as Peg O’Connell in Peg o’ My Heart, written by her husband J. Hartley Manners. Despite viewing screen tests supplied by director D.W. Griffth, Vidor was anxious that the aging Taylor (born 1884) would not be convincing as her 18-year-old stage character on screen. Biographer Marguerite Courtney describes their first encounter:

“...in [her] frowzy wig and dead white makeup, the famous star looked closer to forty than eighteen. At the first sight of Laurette [Vidor] experienced acute relief. She came toward him smiling, and his camera-minded eye saw at once a face all round and animated, essentially youthful. Pumping her hand he burst out impulsively ‘For Heaven’s sake, let’s make a test with your own lovely hair!’”

The process of adapting the stage version to film was nevertheless fraught with difficulties, complicated by a romantic attachment between director and star. The final product proved cinematically “lifeless”. [49]

Pleased with Peg o’ My Heart box-office receipts. Mayer matched Vidor and Taylor again, resulting in a second feature film success, Happiness (1923) also written by Manners, with Taylor playing a charming Pollyanna-like character. The film would mark Vidor's final collaboration with the couple. [50]

Next, Vidor was entrusted to direct Mayer's top female star Clara Kimball Young in The Woman of Bronze, a 1923 melodrama that resembled the formulaic films he had created with Florence Vidor at Vidor Village.[51]

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM): 1923-1943

Silent Era: 1923-1928

Vidor's yeoman service to Louis B. Mayer secured him entréeinto Goldwyn Pictures in 1923, a holding soon to be amalgamated with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Samuel “Sam” Goldwyn and other film producers of the early 1920s, favored “literary” texts as the basis for movie screenplays. Parvenu-rich movie executives wished to provide a patina of class or “tone” to an industry often regarded as vulgar and cash-driven. [51]

Vidor was content to adapt these “prestigious properties” so securing his reputation as a reliable studio asset.[52] His work during this period did not rise to the level of his later work, but a few films stand out. Wild Oranges (1924), from a story by Joseph Hergesheimer, is notable as a harbinger of his best work in the sound era. The natural features of the coastal regions of Georgia are endowed with sinister and homicidal potential, where a fugitive arrives to terrorize rural residents. As such, the film exhibits Vidor's trademark use of nature to symbolize aspects of the human conflict. [53]

Vidor and the John Gilbert collaborations: 1925-1926

Hendrik Sartov (cinematographer), King Vidor (director), Irving Thalberg (producer) & Lillian Gish (co-star) on the set of La Boheme.
Hendrik Sartov (cinematographer), King Vidor (director), Irving Thalberg (producer) & Lillian Gish (co-star) on the set of La Boheme.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's cast of rising movie stars included soon-to-be matinee idol  John “Jack” Gilbert. Vidor directed him in His Hour (1924), based on a Elinor Glyn “febrile romance”, and is one of the few films from Vidor's output of that period to survive. Gilbert, as the Russian nobleman Prince Gritzko, was so ardently performed as co-star Aileen Pringle’s seducer that one scene was deleted. [54]

Vidor's typically “routine” movies of this period include Wine of Youth (1924) and Proud Flesh (1925) emphasize the “time-honored virtues” of familial and matrimonial loyalty, even among the liberated Jazz Age flappers.[55] King Vidor's tenure as a studio stringer was at an end. His next feature would transform his career and have a resounding impact on the late silent film era: The Big Parade.[56][57]

A Silent Era Magnum Opus: The Big Parade: 1925

Three years later he made The Big Parade, among the most acclaimed war films of the silent era, and a tremendous commercial success. [58] The Big Parade established Vidor as one of MGM's top studio directors for the next decade. Producer Irving Thalberg arranged for Vidor to film two more Gilbert vehicles: La Bohème and Bardelys the Magnificent, both released in 1926. In La Bohème, a film of “great and enduring merit”, leading lady Lillian Gish exerted considerable control over the film's production. Bardelys the Magnificent, a picaresque swashbuckler mimicked the films of Douglas Fairbanks. Vidor would spoof the movie on his own Show People (1928) with comedienne Marion Davies. [59]

Vidor's next film would be a startling departure from romantic entertainment to an exposure of the “cruel deception of the American dream”.[60]

 The Crowd (1928) and Cinematic Populism

In the late 1920s European films, especially from German directors, exerted a strong influence on filmmakers internationally. Vidor's The Crowd resonates with these populist films, a “pitiless study” of a young working man's descent into isolation and loss of morale who is ultimately crushed by the urban “assembly line”, while his wife struggles to maintain some order in the relationship. Though the most uncharacteristic of Vidor's pictures, it was his personal favorite: the picture, he said “came out of my guts.”

Employing relatively unknown actors, the film had modest box office success, but was widely praised by critics. In 1928, Vidor received an Oscar nomination, and his first for Best Director. M-G-M executives, who had been content to allow Vidor an “experimental” film found that bleak social outlook of The Crowd troubling - reflected in their one-year releasing the film. The Crowd has since been recognized as one of the “masterpieces" of the late silent era.[61][62]

The Marion Davies Comedies, 1928-1930

Cosmopolitan Pictures, a subsidiary of M-G-M studios and owned by influential newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, insisted that Vidor direct Marion Davis - Randolph's longtime mistress - in his sponsored films, to which Vidor acquiesced. Though not identified as a director of comedies, Vidor filmed three “screwballs” that revealed Davies comedic talents with her “drive-you-to-distraction persona”. The Patsy a comedy of manners, brought Marie Dressler and Dell Henderson, veterans of Mack Sennett slapstick era out of retirement to play Davies’ farcical upper-class parents. Davies performs a number of amusing celebrity imitations she was known for at social gatherings at Hearst's  San Simeon estate, including Gloria Swanson, Lillian Gish, Pola Negri and Mae Murray. [63] The scenario for Show People (1928) was inspired by the glamorous Gloria Swanson, who began her film career in slapstick. Davis’ character Peggy Pepper, a mere comic, is elevated to the high-style star Patricia Pepoire. Vidor spoofs his own recently completed Bardelys the Magnificent (1926), an over-the-top swashbuckling costume drama featuring romantic icon John Gilbert. Some of the best-known film stars of the silent era appeared in cameos, as well as Vidor himself. Show People remains the enduring picture of the Vidor-Davies collaborations. [64]

Vidor's third and final film with Davies was his second sound film (after Hallelujah  (1929)): Not So Dumb (1930). Adapted from the 1921 Broadway comedy Dulcy by George S. Kaufman, the limitations of early sound, despite recent innovations, interfered with the continuity of Davies’ performance that had enlivened her earlier silent comedies with Vidor.[65]

Early Sound Era: 1929-1935

In early 1928, Vidor and his spouse Eleanor Boardman were visiting France in the company of   Scott and  Zelda  Fitzgerald. There Vidor mixed with literary ex-patriots, among them James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway. Vidor was shaken by news that US film studios and theaters were converting to sound technology and he returned quickly to Hollywood, concerned about the impact on silent cinema. [66] Adjusting to the advent of sound, Vidor enthusiastically embarked upon his long-desired project of making picture about rural black American life incorporating a musical soundtrack. He quickly completed writing the scenario for Hallelujah and began recruiting an all African-American cast. [67]

M-G-M studios had not yet decided which emerging sound technology they would invest in, Vitaphone or Movietone, a decision that would determine what camera system Vidor would use. Vidor circumvented the dilemma by appealing directly to President of Lowe’s Inc. Nicholas Schenck, who authorized Vidor to begin shooting outdoor location sequences without sound and with the caveat that Vidor waive his $100,000 salary. [68]

 Hallelujah (1929)

As Vidor's first sound film, Hallelujah (1929) combines a dramatic rural tragedy with a documentary-like depiction of black agrarian community of sharecroppers in the South. Daniel L. Haynes as Zeke, Nina Mae McKinney as Chick and William Fontaine as Hot Shot developed a love-triangle that leads a revenge murder. A quasi-musical, Vidor's innovative integration of sound into the scenes, including jazz and gospel adds immensely to the cinematic effect.[69]

Vidor, a third-generation Texan, encountered black workers employed at his father's sawmills when he was child and there he became familiar with their   spirituals. As an adult, he was not not immune to the racial prejudices common among whites in the South of the 1920s. His paternalistic claim to know the character of “real negro” is reflected in his portrayal of some rural black characters as “childishly simple, lecherously promiscuous, fanatically superstitious, and shiftless”. Vidor, nonetheless, avoids reducing his characters to Uncle Tom stereotypes and his treatment bears no resemblance to the overt racism in D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915).[70]

The black sharecroppers resemble more the poor white agrarian entrepreneurs Vidor praised in his 1934 Our Daily Bread, emphasizing the class, rather than race, of his subjects. The film emerges as a human tragedy in which elemental forces of sexual desire and revenge contrast with family affection and community solidarity and redemption.[71]

Hallelujah enjoyed an overwhelmingly positive response in the United States and internationally, praising Vidor's stature as a film artist and as a humane social commentator. Vidor was nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards of 1929.[72][73]

M-G-M 1930-1931: Billy the Kid and  The Champ

Filmed just before passage of the  Production Code of 1933, Vidor's Billy the Kid is free of the fixed moral dualities that came to typify subsequent Good Guy vs. Bad Guy Westerns in Hollywood. Starring former football champion Johnny Mack Brown as Billy and Wallace Beery as his nemesis Sheriff Pat Garrett, the protagonists display a gratuitous violence that anticipates Vidor's 1946 masterpiece Duel in the Sun (1946). Homicidal behavior resonates with the brutal and deadly desert landscape,   Hemingwayesque in its brevity and realism. Studio executives were concerned that the excessive violence would alienate audiences, though the Prohibition Era in the United States was saturated with news of the gangster-related killings. [74]

Shot partially in the new 70 mm Grandeur system, the film was conceived by producers to be an epic, but few cinemas were equipped to handle the new wide-screen technology. The film did poorly at the box-office.[75][76]

Upon his return to M-G-M after his sojourn to complete Street Scene for Samuel Goldwyn, Vidor embarked on his second picture starring actor Wallace Beery, this time with child actor Jackie Cooper in The Champ (1931 film). Based on a story by Francis Marion, Vidor adapts a standard plot about a socially and economically impaired parent who relinquishes a child to insure his/her escape squalid conditions to achieve an upwardly mobile future. The film is a descendant of director Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid (1921), as well as Vidor's own early silent shorts for Judge Willis Brown. Vidor owed M-G-M a more conventional and “fool-proof” production after executives allowed him to make the more experimental Street Scene in 1931. The Champ would prove to be a successful vehicle for Berry and propel him to top-rank among M-G-M movie stars.[77]

Bird of Paradise and RKO Pictures : Sojourn in Hawaii, 1932

After finishing the sentimental vehicle starring Wallace Berry, in The Champ, Vidor was loaned to Radio-Keith-Orpheum (RKO) to make a “South Seas” romance for producer David Selznick filmed in the US territory of Hawaii. Starring Dolores del Río and Joel McCrea, the tropical location and mixed-race love theme in Bird of Paradise included nudity and sexual eroticism.[78]

During production Vidor began an affair with script assistant Elizabeth Hill that led to a series of highly productive screenplay collaborations and their marriage in 1937. Vidor divorced his wife, actress Eleanor Boardman shortly after Bird of Paradise was completed.[79][80]

 Great Depression: 1933-1934

The Stranger Returns (1933) and Our Daily Bread (1934) are Depression era films that present protagonists who flee the social and economic perils of urban America, plagued by high unemployment and labor unrest to seek a lost rural identity or make a new start in the agrarian countryside. Vidor's expressed enthusiasm for the New Deal and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s exhortation in his first inaugural in 1933 for a shift of labor from industry to agriculture.[81]

In The Stranger Returns, a “city girl” Miriam Hopkins abandons her life in a great metropolis to visit her grandfather (Lionel Barrymore) in Iowa, the aging patriarch of a working farm. Her arrival upsets the schemes of parasitic relatives to seize the property in anticipation of Grandpa Storr's passing. The scenario presents the farm as “bountiful”, even in the midst of the Dust Bowl where banks seized tens-of-thousands of independent family farms in the Mid-West and drove millions into low wage seasonal agricultural labor.[82] The picture is a paean to family “blood” ties and rural generational continuity, manifested in the granddaughter's commitment (though raised in New York City) to inherit the family farm and honor its agrarian heritage.[83]

Vidor continued his “back to the land” theme in his 1934 Our Daily Bread. The picture is the second film of a trilogy he referred to as “War, Wheat and Steel”. (His 1925 film The Big Parade was “war” and his 1944 An American Romance  was “steel”.) Our Daily Bread - “wheat” - is a sequel to his silent masterpiece The Crowd (1928).[84][85]

Our Daily Bread is a deeply personal and politically controversial work that Vidor financed himself when M-G-M executives declined to back the production. M-G-M was uncomfortable with its characterization of big business, and particularity banking institutions, as corrupt. [86] A struggling Depression-era couple from the city inherit a derelict farm. In an effort to make it a productive enterprise they establish a cooperative in alliance with unemployed locals who posses various talents and commitments. The film raises questions as to the legitimacy of the American system of democracy and to government imposed socialism. [87]

The picture garnered a mixed response among social and film critics, some regarding it as a socialistic condemnation of capitalism and others as tending towards fascism - a measure of Vidor's own ambivalence in organizing his social outlook artistically.[88][89]

The Goldwyn Films: 1931-1937

Street Scene (1931), Cynara (1932), The Wedding Night (1935), Stella Dallas (1937)

During the 1930s Vidor, though under contract to M-G-M studios, made four films under loan-out to independent producer Samuel Goldwyn, formerly with the Goldwyn studios that had amalgamated with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1924.. Goldwyn's insistence on fidelity to the prestigious literary material he had purchased for screen adaptations imposed cinematic restraints on his film directors, including Vidor. The first of their collaborations since the silent era was Street Scene (1931)[90]

The adoption of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Elmer Rice depicts a social microcosm in a major American metropolis and its social inequalities. The cinematic limitations imposed by a single set restricted to a New York City block of tenements building and its ethnically diverse inhabitants presented Vidor with unique technical challenges. He and cinematographer George Barnes countered and complemented these structural restrictions by using a roving camera mounted on cranes, an innovation made possible by recent developments in early sound technology. [91]

The excellent cast, drawn largely from the Broadway production, contributed to the critical success of the film, as did the huge publicity campaign engineered by Goldwyn. Street Scene's immense box-office profits belied the financial and economic crisis of the early Depression years, when movie studios feared bankruptcy.[92]

Cynara, a romantic melodrama of a brief, yet tragic affair between a British barrister and a shopgirl, was Vidor's second sound collaboration with Goldwyn. Starring two of Hollywood's biggest stars of the period, Ronald Colman and Kay Francis, the story by Francis Marion is a cautionary tale concerning upper- and lower-class sexual infidelities set in England. Framed, as in the play and novel, in a series of flashbacks told by the married barrister Warlock (Colman), the story ends in honorable redemption for the barrister and death for his mistress. Vidor was able to inject some “pure cinema” into a picture that was otherwise a “dialogue-heavy” talkie: “Colman [in London] tears up a piece of paper and throws the pieces out a window, where they fly into the air. Vidor cuts to St. Mark's Square in Venice (where Francis, his spouse is vacationing), with pigeons flying into the air...”[93]

In his third collaboration with Goldwyn, Vidor was tasked with salvaging the producer's huge investment in Soviet-trained Russian actress Anna Sten. Goldwyn's effort to elevate Sten to the stature of Dietrich or Garbo had thus far failed despite his relentless promotion when Vidor began directing her in The Wedding Night (1935).[94]

A tale of a doomed affair between a married New Yorker (Gary Cooper) (whose character Vidor based on novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald) and a farm girl (Sten) from an Old World Polish family, Vidor provided thoughtful direction to Cooper and Sten while cinematographer Gregg Toland’s devised effective lighting and photography. Despite good reviews the picture did not establish Sten as a star among movie-goers and she remained “Goldwyn's Folly”.[95]

In 1937 Vidor made his final and most profitable picture with Samuel Goldwyn: Stella Dallas. A remake of Goldwyn's most successful silent movie, the 1925 Stella Dallas, also an adaption of Olive Higgins Prouty's popular novel. Barbara Stanwyck stars as the eponymous “martyr of motherhood” in the sound re-make. Vidor analyzed director Henry King’s handling of his silent production and incorporated or modified some of its filmic structure and staging. Stanwyck's performance, reportedly without undue oversight by Vidor, is outstanding, benefited by her selective vetting of Belle Bennett’s famous portrayal. Vidor contributed to defining Stanwyck's role substantially in the final cut, providing a sharper focus on her character and delivering one of the great tear-jerkers in film history. [96]

Despite the success of the film it would be his last with Goldwyn, as Vidor had tired of the producers outbursts on the set. Vidor emphatically declined to work with the “mercurial” producer again.[97]

Paramount Pictures: 1935-1936

So Red the Rose (1935) and The Texas Rangers (1936)

Paramount production manager at Paramount Pictures, Ernst Lubitsch, persuaded Vidor to undertake the direction of a film based on a story that a afforded a “"Southern" perspective, So Red the Rose, an American Civil War epic.

The topic appealed to the Texas-bred Vidor and he offered a dual vision of the ante-bellum South’s response to the war among the white planter class, sentimentalizing their struggle and defeat. Here, the western “pioneer” plantation owners possess less of the anti-Northern fury that led to secession by their “Old South” counterparts. The scion of the estate, Duncan Bedford Randolph Scott initially refuses to join the Confederate army (“I don’t believe Americans should fight Americans”) but his sister Vallette Duncan Margaret Sullivan scorns his pacifism and singlehandedly diverts her slaves from rebellion. The white masters of the “Portobello” plantation in Mississippi emerge from the conflict content that North and South made equal sacrifices, and that a “New South” has emerged that is better off without its white aristocracy and slavery. With Portobello in ruins, Valette and Duncan submit to the virtues of hard work in a pastoral existence. [98]

The novel So Red the Rose (1934) by Stark Young in its narrative and theme anticipates author Margaret Mitchell’s [[Gone with the Wind {novel)|Gone with the Wind]] (1936). Vidor, initially tapped to direct Mitchell’s epic, was ultimately assigned to director George Cukor.[99]

The box-office failure of So Red the Rose led the film industry to anticipate the same for Cukor’s adaption of Mitchell’s Civil War epic. To the contrary, Gone with the Wind (1939) enjoyed immense commercial and critical success.[100]

The Texas Rangers, Vidor’s second and final film for Paramount reduced, but did not abandon, the level of sadistic and lawless violence evidenced in his Billy the Kid. Vidor presents a morality play where the low-cunning of the outlaws cum vigilantes heroes is turned to the service of law-and-order when they kill their erstwhile accomplice in crime - the “Polka Dot Bandit.”.[101][102]

The film’s scenario and script was penned by Vidor and wife Elizabeth Hill, based loosely on a The Texas Rangers: A History of Frontier Defense of the Texas Rangers by Walter Prescott Webb. Made on the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Texas Ranger Division the picture includes standard B western tropes, including Indian massacres of white settlers and a corrupt city official who receives small town justice at the hands of a jury composed of saloon denizens. The film presages, as does Vidor’s Billy the Kid (1931), his portrayal of the savagery of civilization and nature in producer David O. Selznick’s Duel in the Sun (1946).[103][104][105]

William Desmond Taylor

In 1967, Vidor researched the unsolved 1922 murder of fellow director William Desmond Taylor for a possible screenplay. Vidor never published or wrote of this research during his lifetime, but biographer Sidney D. Kirkpatrick posthumously examined Vidor's notes. He alleged, in his 1986 book A Cast of Killers, that Vidor had solved the sensational crime but kept his conclusions private to protect individuals still living at the time. The widely cited newsletter Taylorology later noted over 100 factual errors in A Cast of Killers and strongly disputes Kirkpatrick's conclusions, but credits the book with renewing popular interest in the crime.

Personal life

In 1944 Vidor, a Republican,[106] joined the anti-communist Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals.

Vidor published his autobiography, A Tree is a Tree, in 1953. This book's title is inspired by an incident early in Vidor's Hollywood career. Vidor wanted to film a movie in the locations where its story was set, a decision which would have greatly added to the film's production budget. A budget-minded producer told him, "A rock is a rock. A tree is a tree. Shoot it in Griffith Park" (a nearby public space which was frequently used for filming exterior shots).

King Vidor was a Christian Scientist and wrote occasionally for church publications.[107][108][109]

Marriages

Holiday greetings from the Vidors, December 25, 1920
Holiday greetings from the Vidors, December 25, 1920

Vidor was married three times:

  1. Florence Arto (m. 1915–1924)
    • Suzanne (1918–2003)
    • (adopted by Jascha Heifetz)
  2. Eleanor Boardman (m. 1926–1931)
    • Antonia (1927–2012)
    • Belinda (born 1930)
  3. Elizabeth Hill (m. 1932–1978)

Death

Vidor died at age 88 of a heart ailment at his ranch in Paso Robles, California, on November 1, 1982. His remains were cremated and scattered on the ranch property.[110]

Filmography

Academy Awards and nominations

Year Award Film Result
1927–28 Best Director in a Dramatic Picture The Crowd Frank Borzage7th Heaven
1929–30 Best Director Hallelujah Lewis MilestoneAll Quiet on the Western Front
1931–32 Outstanding Production The Champ Irving ThalbergGrand Hotel
Best Director Frank BorzageBad Girl
1938 Best Director The Citadel Frank CapraYou Can't Take It with You
1956 Best Director War and Peace George StevensGiant
1979 Academy Honorary Award for his incomparable achievements as a cinematic creator and innovator

Directed Academy Award performances

Year Performer Film Result
Academy Award for Best Actor
1931–32 Wallace Beery The Champ Won
1938 Robert Donat The Citadel Nominated
Academy Award for Best Actress
1937 Barbara Stanwyck Stella Dallas Nominated
1946 Jennifer Jones Duel in the Sun Nominated
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1937 Anne Shirley Stella Dallas Nominated
1946 Lillian Gish Duel in the Sun Nominated

Academy Awards in King Vidor films

Year Film Academy Award
Nominations
Academy Award
Wins
1927–28 The Crowd
2
0
1929–30 Hallelujah
1
0
1931–32 The Champ
4
2
1936 The Texas Rangers
1
0
1938 The Citadel
4
0
1940 Northwest Passage
1
0
Comrade X
1
0
1946 Duel in the Sun
2
0
1949 Beyond the Forest
1
0
1956 War and Peace
3
0

Other awards

At the 11th Moscow International Film Festival in 1979, he was awarded with the Honorable Prize for the contribution to cinema.[111] In 2020, Vidor was honored with a retrospective at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival, showcasing more than 30 of his films.[112][113]

References

  1. ^ Berlinale Retrospective 2020: “...he was actively involved in making movies for 67 years.” And “allowed the material to define the style.” And on “auteur”: “Vidor's status as an auteur is definitely underscored by his independence and by the passion he brought to films. ...Vidor was indeed at times something of an auteur filmmaker. .“ And on “humane”: “There is also a whole series of motifs that repeatedly turn up in his films, and which reflect the things he cared about – issues of class, as well as the issue of race in the US, which he incorporated into his films with a humanist bent...”
    WSWS Reinhardt 2020: “What distinguished him as an artist was his instinct for substantial and relevant social topics and conflicts.”
    Gustaffson 2016: “At his best, Vidor “made films about the human condition, about human's moral and physical battles, and the battle between us and nature.
    Baxter 1976, p. 41: “...Vidor adapted well to sound.”
  2. ^ Phillips, 2009: “The 141-minute feature was the first silent American movie to deal realistically with the horrors of war and to do it from the standpoint of ordinary soldiers. It was also the most profitable silent-era feature and remained MGM's most successful film until Gone with the Wind in 1939. In some American cities it screened for more than a year.” Also: Decades after its release “it remains a formidable work.”
    Thomson, 2007: The metronome “sequence seems to have influenced many directors especially Kurosawa and Spielberg.”
    Reinhardt 2020: “His film The Big Parade (1925) influenced other anti-war classics such as Lewis Milestone's All Quiet on the Western Front (1930).“
  3. ^ Sarris, 1973. P. 27: “...the major directors of 1940 by almost any standard...included King Vidor (Northwest Passage, Comrade X)
    Baxter 1976. P. 63: The 1940s and early 50s were “Vidor's greatest period...in [his] career.”
  4. ^ Thomson, 2007: “He made films glorifying the effects of Western civilization and its contents, detailing how ordinary men are made extraordinary through their fight against the neutral destructiveness of nature.”
  5. ^ Baxter 1976: “...the sense of the American landscape...distinguishes his best films. What sets Vidor apart from his contemporaries is...a dark, almost demonic view of the land.” And p. 9: “...Vidor's disquiet about natural forces.”
  6. ^ Higham 1972: “Vidor has always been a poet of the American landscape, creating vivid images of rural life...”
  7. ^ Higham 1972: “Vidor's earlier movies had tended to emphasize the virtues of the common man. But gradually he came to believe that the individualist was the most important of beings, that a man must ignore received opinion and hold ruthlessly to what he believes.”
  8. ^ Senses of Cinema 2007: In his later films “Vidor's men became more unlikable and scarier as his country itself veered away from the proletarian dreams of the 1930s and into the consumer culture of the ’50s and beyond. All his men work against things: war, consuming lust, the land, the illnesses of the body, bourgeois routine, lost love. They always emerge stronger from their struggle.”
  9. ^ Berlinale, 2020: “In general, King Vidor was a great “actors’ director”. You often see performances in his films that are absolutely astounding. And often it's the women who shine...”
  10. ^ Thomson, 2007: “He received five best director nominations and an honorary Oscar” from the Academy of Arts and Science.
  11. ^ "King Vidor". IMDb.
  12. ^ Thomson, 2007: “His father was a well-off lumberman...”
    Baxter, 1976, p. 4-5: His father “a dealer in South American lumber” at time of Vidor's birth.
    Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p 19: His father “owned a hardwood forest in the Dominican Republic...quite prosperous at the time of Vidor's birth...but soon after, his [father's] fortunes declined...”
  13. ^ Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p 19: Index lists Vidor's mother as “Kate”, not Katherine. Elizabeth Crockett was Vidor's maternal great-grandmother. On Vidor's Crockett ancestry see this link: https://medium.com/save-texas-history/honoring-a-widow-of-the-alamo-elizabeth-crocketts-land-legacy-d364da8f8f0b Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  14. ^ Baxter 1976, p. 4
  15. ^ Gallagher, 2007; Mother was "Scotch-Irish"
  16. ^ Flint, Peter B. (November 2, 1982). "King Vidor, 88, Director of Films for More Than 40 Years, Is Dead" – via NYTimes.com.
  17. ^ Larson, Erik (1999). Isaac's Storm. Random House Publishing. ISBN 0-609-60233-0.
  18. ^ Thomson, 2007)
  19. ^ Thomson, 2007
  20. ^ Baxter 1976, p. 5
    Thomson, 2007: “his mother raised Vidor as a Christian Scientist. The philosophy of Mary Baker Eddy had a lifelong effect on his work – he took her few good ideas and extrapolated a metaphysical philosophy of his own...”
    Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p 309: Vidor's films “suggest a consistent distrust of Christianity, whether established or inspired.”
  21. ^ Baxter, 1976, p. 5: Vidor remarked that he “hated” the institution.
  22. ^ Durgnat, Raymond; Simmon, Scott (January 1, 1988). King Vidor, American. University of California Press. p. 24 – via Internet Archive.
  23. ^ "12th Berlin International Film Festival: Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  24. ^ "6th Moscow International Film Festival (1969)". MIFF. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
  25. ^ Baxter 1976. P. 5
  26. ^ Baxter 1976. P. 5: In Tow “a documentary”
    Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 21: In Tow “a two-reel comedy...in all respects incompetent.”
  27. ^ Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 21-22
  28. ^ Baxter, 1976. P. 5, p. 7: “...in San Francisco [Vidor} and Florence lived off breakfast cereal scraps found in grocer's boxes and free condensed milk samples...”
    Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 21-22
  29. ^ Baxter, 1976. P. 7: Vidor, while a young cameraman in Texas, had provided Griffith with a letter of introduction to a cousin in California, who had in turn gotten Griffith a job as an extra at Vitagraph. In 1915, Griffith returned the favor to the struggling Vidor and Arto.
    Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 23: Vidor served “as prop boy, script clerk, bit actor...” And: Griffith a former “Texas flame” of Vidor. And p. 326: “pseudonym” derived from Vidor's christened name Charles King Wallis Vidor.
  30. ^ Holliman, TMC
  31. ^ Baxter 1976. P. 8-9
  32. ^ Berlinale, 2020
  33. ^ Thompson, 2011
    Baxter, 1976. P. 9: “...’the production is frankly a preachment, noted the New York Times and p. 11. Baxter refers to the “preachment” film The Turn in the Road.).
    Gustafsson. 2016: The film “advocated views associated with Christian Science (not to be confused with Scientology), a then relatively new religious movement that came about towards the end of the 19th century and to which Vidor claimed allegiance.”)
    Higham 1972: “... a team of businessmen supported him in making a work exemplifying his own Christian Science principles.’
  34. ^ Baxter, 1976. P. 9
    Durgnat and Simmons, 1988 p. 26: “Vidor's first five features are lost...”
  35. ^ Baxter 1976. P. 9-10
  36. ^ Berlinale 2020, 2020: “He was a Christian Scientist, although not a particularly devout one. And the creed was somewhat influenced by that faith.”
  37. ^ Durgnat and Simmons, 1988 p. 31 See figure 14
  38. ^ Baxter, 1976. P. 10
  39. ^ Baxter, 1976 p. 11 “...the general tone [of the film] chilled First National...’they had huge theaters to fill, and they wanted names, big names and more names.’”
  40. ^ Gustafsson, 2016: “...after a few failures Vidor put his manifesto away and tried to make films that generated some income instead.”)
    Baxter, 1976. P. 11: “In a [business] community increasingly dominated by big combines, his films, though distinguished, were almost entirely the romances and comedies then in vogue...the ideals of his ‘Creed and Pledge’ receded...”
  41. ^ Baxter, 1976. P. 11, p.13: “The Sky Pilot hovers uneasily between Western comedy and the celebration of landscape which is closest to Vidor's heart.”
  42. ^ Baxter 1976, p. 13-14
  43. ^ Baxter 1976, p. 14: Vidor is quoted as saying that “DeMille made me want to give up directing.” and p. 17: “...the artificiality of his films with Florence Vidor.”
  44. ^ Baxter 1976, p. 14
  45. ^ Berlinale 2020, 2020: “Vidor tackled women's issues early on, for instance in the silent The Real Adventure (1922), about a young wife seeking career recognition and success...”
  46. ^ Baxter 1976, p. 14-15, p. 18, marriage to Boardman
  47. ^ Senses of Cinema, 2007: “King Vidor's romance with Colleen Moore (b. 1900) is already a Hollywood legend. They first met in 1921, when he was married to his boyhood sweetheart, Florence Vidor: he directed Colleen in “The Sky Pilot.” They fell in love, and their affair continued until 1924.”
  48. ^ Baxter, 1976, p. 11: Vidor “struggled, finally without success” to keep the studio running. Also p. 14–15 on antecedents to Vidor's first divorce.
  49. ^ Baxter 1976, p. 15-16
  50. ^ Baxter 1976, p. 16
  51. ^ a b Baxter 1976, p. 17
  52. ^ Baxter 1976, p. 18-19
  53. ^ Baxter 1976, p. “...shows nature as a sinister force...” p. 20: Vidor “was often able to introduce a dramatically high-lighted use of nature.”
  54. ^ Baxter 1976 p. 19-20 Gilbert's “soon to be international following...” and p. 20: Footage in which Gilbert “kisses” Pringle's cheek with his eyelashes was deemed too salacious and removed
  55. ^ Baxter 1976, p. 19-20
  56. ^ Baxter 1976 p. 20
  57. ^ Berlinale, 2020: The Big Parade “paradigm would later inform films such as Westfront 1918 (dir: G. W. Pabst, Germany 1930) and All Quiet on the Western Front (dir: Lewis Milestone, USA 1930).”
  58. ^ Thomson, 2007: “The film was a huge hit, collecting about $20 million at the box office worldwide, and until the release of Gone with the Wind, was the studio's highest grossing picture.” And: “The success of The Big Parade turned Vidor into a top asset at MGM.”
  59. ^ Baxter 1976 p. 26, p. 28: “a la Fairbanks...”
    Durgnat and Simmons, 1988 Also p. 76: On Gish's “auteurism” and control over La Bohème. See p. 59: Vidor “ashamed” of Bardelys the Magnificent. And p. 90–91 on spoof.
  60. ^ Baxter 1976 p. 33
    Thomson, 2007: “...one of the boldest departures in American silent pictures...”
  61. ^ Berlinale, 2020. “Guts” quote.
    Silver 2010: “...one of the crown jewels of the [late Silent Era].”
    Baxter 1972 p. 151
    Thomson, 2007
    Baxter 1976 p. 30, p. 33
  62. ^ Holliman, year: “The Crowd proved to be so uncompromising and unsentimental in its approach that MGM mogul Irving Thalberg held up its release for a year. Although it was eventually released to international critical acclaim...”
    Hodsdon, 2013: The Crowd was influenced by “... an international wave of populist films in the ’20s and ’30s including the German populism” and “generally well-received critically and its reputation has continued to grow. The oft-repeated claim that it was a failure with the public seems inaccurate. While it was not a smash hit, The Crowd grossed more than double its considerable production costs and returned a small profit to the studio. And “...It now stands as one of the great silent films” and inspired Italian director Vittorio De Sica's 1948 film Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thieves).
    Durgnat and Simmons, 1988 Also p. 78-79: “The Crowd belongs to an internationalist wave of populist films...” dealing with working class issues.
    Baxter 1976 p. 30: “German filmmakers enjoyed an American vogue [due to their] artistic success” And: “...his most unusual and uncharacteristic film of the [nineteen]-twenties. And p. 31: Wage earners are “reduced to numbers in a characterless office.”
  63. ^ Baxter p, 34: Here for remarks regarding Hearst influence. And p. 36: Composite photo showing Davis impersonating the film stars.
    Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p, 87: “...dramatic challenges tended to highlight her limitations...[but] Vidor converted her....into a touchingly resilient screwball comedienne.”And p. 90: On Davis’ impersonations. And p. 92: “drive you to distraction persona”
  64. ^ Baxter 1976 p. 35-36: names of the cameo stars provided. And p. 38: “...Peggy [character] based on Gloria Swanson...”
    Durgnat and Simmons, 1988 p. 90-91 And p. 92: Vidor's “affable ironies about Bardelys the Magnificent...” And p. 94: On its enduring qualities “...even sixty years later” still a highly engaging film, an “enduring success”.
  65. ^ Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p, 93 “...his second sound film...” And p. 93: “Davies’ charm looks panicky” due to sound necessitated cutting. And p. Panghorn has the “funniest bits”
    Baxter 1976 p. 35 Not So Dumb reveals Davies’ “thin talent”
  66. ^ Baxter 1976 p. 43: On influence of Hemingway's literary style on film.
    Durgnat and Simmons, 1988 p. 61, p. 95: Vidor expressed his view that sound films would “...do away entirely with the art of motion pictures...” (Interview with Motion Picture News, July 14, 1928)
  67. ^ Durgnat and Simmons, 1988 p. 97: “Vidor's long-cherished project about southern black life...”
  68. ^ Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 95
  69. ^ Reinhardt, 2020: Accordingly, music and dance play an outstanding role and add enormously to the work.
    Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 97: “...both is and isn't a musical...”
  70. ^ Baxter 1972 p. 152: “real negro”
    Silver, 2010: “Certainly, Vidor could never be accused of the overt racial venom exhibited by Griffith in The Birth of a Nation.”
  71. ^ Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 97-98: “The cotton-picking black folk...don't carry Uncle Tom overtones, for Vidor celebrates the same life in the enterprising white community of Our Daily Bread.” And p. 98-99: The film “unleashes forces...[revealing] a moral polarity between family affection versus apparently passionate sexuality...” And p. “...the film affirms the value...of diligence, frugality, hard work...the puritan ethic- mediated through an Afro-ethnicity.”
    Reinhardt, 2020: “But the limitations and prejudices [in the film] are largely class and social ones, not racial. Vidor was all over the place ideologically and politically, notwithstanding his undoubted general sympathy for the poor and marginalized” and “the film's universal message.”(emphasis in original)
    Vidor, an unabashed Texan, carried much of the baggage of a Southern upbringing...” Also “scenes of great tragedy” including the death Zeke's younger brother.
  72. ^ Galleghar, 2007: “Hallelujah! in 1929, Vidor was internationally celebrated, even in America, as a titanic film artist who was both socially committed and commercial. Had a poll been taken, Vidor might well have been voted the greatest filmmaker in history, the one who had finally realized cinema's poetic potential.”
  73. ^ Reinhardt, 2020
  74. ^ Baxter, 1972 p. 152-153: “...the integration of character into landscape as never before permitted.”And “...a natural complement to Duel in the Sun.”
    Baxter, 1976 p. 44-45
    Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 180: “...an exploration of social violence....”And p. 184”...a strange synthesis of Western innocence and gangster morality...” and reference to Hemingway.
  75. ^ Durgnat and Simmons, 1988 p. 180: “...for twenty years thereafter, Westerns were fated to simple moral dichotomies between white Stetsons and black.” And p. 11:“...Vidor's Billy the Kid [celebrates] another serial killer...without Hays Code objections.” And p. 181: The Brown/Billy character “shuttles between being a justified and near-psychotic murderer.”
    Baxter, 1972 p, 152-153: “...the integration of character...into an alien [desert] landscape...as bare and stark as the moon.” And: “...in Billy the Kid, [Vidor] struck a balance between the commercial necessities of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and his own vision of life.” And p. 153: “...Billy the Kid as a fit companion piece to Scarface and other exercises in the celebration of violence.”
    Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 96: “...one of the experiments [in 1930 with] 70 millimeter wide-screen photography.” and “compromised in impending popularity of gangsters films such Public Enemy (1931) and Scarface (1932) and the popularity of mobster Al Capone’’ among some ethnic groups.
    Baxter, 1976 p. 45
    Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 114:“A melting-pot Western...a populist plot... stressing the.diverse [European] heritages of the immigrants to New Mexico...”
  76. ^ Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 96: “...one of the experiments [in 1930 with] 70 millimeter wide-screen photography.”
    Baxter, 1972 p, 152-153: Baxter reports that only “twelve theaters” in the US were fitted to present 70 millimeter prints, with 35mm used in most movie houses.
    Baxter, 1976 p. 45
    Smith, TMC: “The box office failure of Metro's widescreen Billy the Kid in the autumn of 1930 may have killed the A-list career of John Mack Brown but it in no way deterred subsequent recreations of the myth.”
  77. ^ Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 96, p. 124: The film is a “clear model” of Chaplin's The Kid. And p. 126: “inter-ethnic” kid movies for Brown. And: a “conventional” film for the studio to balance his experimental efforts e.g. Street Scene.
    Miller, TMC
  78. ^ Durgnat and Simmon 1988 p. 136-137: “...nothing prepares us for Selznick's volcano sacrifice.” And “...Old World cultures are there for Americans and their lovers to transcend...If the film renounces miscegenation, that's not Vidor's fault... [the movie] yearns the other way. But the strictures against miscegenation were so strong that fatalism was built into [the story's] premise.”
  79. ^ Durgnat and Simmon 1988 p. 96, 173, 174, 177
  80. ^ Baxter 1976 p. 49
  81. ^ Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 138: “...an escape to family-owned land away from modern [urban] economic and spiritual problems.” And also quotes passage from FDR inaugural And p. 154: Vidor's “admiration for the New Deal spirit...”
  82. ^ Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 140: M-G-M studio and Vidor “hedge[s]” his depiction of [Depression[-era] agriculture...” And: the farm “remains safely bountiful...” And: The Storr enterprise with its “expensive threshers” is not a “collective” but a “company”.
  83. ^ Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 139: “...her ultimate commitment to the land...” And p. 145: “blood” relations and rural family continuity
  84. ^ Higham, 1972: “...his masterpiece, The Crowd And “... a trilogy Vidor thought of as “War, Wheat and Steel.” It was not until 1944...that Vidor got the chance to make the “Steel” portion. He called it “An American Romance.”
  85. ^ Baxter, 1976 p. 51-52
  86. ^ Higham, 1972: “Thalberg of MGM said it was out of the question.”
    Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 149: “...directly political” implications. And “...a politically charged subject” on the question of labor and land ownership. And p. 151; The studio viewed the film as “an attack on big business” and refused to finance it. And see p. 151 for Vidor's financing of project.
    Baxter 1972 p. 158: “Vidor's more personal work...financed by him [with] a controversial theme.”
    Silver, 2010: “It is some measure of the ardor Vidor felt for Our Daily Bread that he managed to make it outside the studio system and in spite of American cinema's traditional aversion to controversial subjects.
    Higham, 1972: “Vidor mortgaged his house and sold everything he owned to do the picture.
  87. ^ Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 149-150: “The film touches on the implications that the whole American democratic system is corrupt and should be left behind by this [rural] community.”
  88. ^ Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 149-150
    Thomson 2007: “ strange but stirring film that finds equal fault with socialism and democracy and sets about creating a system of its own, based on the charisma of one man...”
  89. ^ Silver, 2010: “[Our Daily Bread] is still naive, simplistic, and awkward, but it remains extremely lovely in its innocence.”
    Baxter, 1972 p. 158: “...one cannot accept Our Daily Bread as anything more than a well-mounted political tract from a theorist unwilling or unable see a situation with any real insight.”
    Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 152: See here for Vidor's “political ambiguity.”
  90. ^ Baxter, 1976 p. 18
    Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 117
    Baxter, 1972 p. 153: Goldwyn “pursuing as ever his goal of ‘cultural’ films...”
  91. ^ Miller, TMC: “...Vidor realized that the play's single setting outside the apartment building was one of its greatest strengths. ...to keep the film from being static, he worked with cameraman George Barnes to find innovative ways to move and place the camera...Vidor had been one of the first directors to move the camera after the arrival of talking pictures, which was also excellent preparation for adapting the one-set play.”
    Baxter 1976 p. 45-46: “By focusing on a single organism in the city, Rice exposed the universal blight of social inequality.”
    Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 117-118: “...the composition became the action...”
    Baxter, 1972 p. 153: “Vidor made use of a fluid camera in order to overcome the static nature of the action...craning dizzyingly”
  92. ^ Thomson, 2011: “The Crash of 1929 was followed by years of sinking economic depression. In the early '30s, the size of the audience withered. The studios faced ruin.
    Miller, TMC
  93. ^ Berlinale archive, 2020: Warlock “succumbs to the erotic charms of a lower-class woman – with fatal consequences.”
    Landazuri, TMC
  94. ^ Landazuri, TMC: “...Sten became known as "Goldwyn's Folly" in the 1930s, because of the failed attempt by movie mogul Sam Goldwyn to make her into the next Garbo or Dietrich.”
    Baxter, 1976 p. 52
    Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 166
    Baxter, 1972 p. 159: “...The Wedding March was [Goldwyn's] last extravagant fling” at establishing Sten as major Hollywood actress.
  95. ^ Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 165
    Landazuri, TMC
    Baxter, 1976 p. 52-53:
  96. ^ Miller, TMC: See Miller for Vidor's preoccupation with filming, not with directing his lead actors.
    Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 200-201: The changes Vidor make to Henry King's version “owe something to the remake being a star vehicle for Barbara Stanwyck” And “Vidor identically, cut, shot and staged” some of the material from the 1925 version. And Vidor “a master... of wringing audience tears.” Also “...the final gut punch” ending. And p. 205: See footnote on Vidor's “final editing” And also Stanwyck's study of Bennett's performance. And Stella Dallas “lines up with the ‘pure’ weepies”
  97. ^ Miller, TMC: When Vidor finished shooting Stella Dallas, “he posted a sign over his desk reading, "NO MORE GOLDWYN PICTURES!"
    Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 173: Same “no more Goldwyn pictures!” quote.
  98. ^ Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 176-177: Vidor’s interpretation of the Civil War South is that of “an unrepentant - unreconstructed Southerner…” And “Vidor presents “two distinct southern regional responses” to the Civil War. And p. 199: The film describes “a split between Texans and Southerners [who behave] according to different senses of ‘honor’...” And p. 176: The loss of Portobello “toughens” [the former slaveholders] into survivors” who now work and live simply on the land. And for “pacifism” and “American” quotes, see p. 176, p. 179.
    Baxter, 1976 p. 53-54: Thumbnail sketch of So Red the Rose.
  99. ^ Baxter, 1976 p. 53-54
  100. ^ Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 172, p.176
  101. ^ Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 181-182: “A light morality play...the two Rangers begin outside society, then join it, then acknowledge a duty to maintain it.”
  102. ^ Baxter, 1976 p. 54: See thumbnail sketch of film and “Polka Dot Bandit”.
  103. ^ Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 186: Vidor and Hill’s script “comes across as entirely too quirky” to be an adaptation of Webb’s historical account of the Texas Rangers. And p. 185: Vidor’s movie “contains what amounts to two B Westerns: “The Texas Rangers wipe out the Injuns” and “The Texas Rangers wipe out a monopolist.”
  104. ^ Baxter, 1976 p. 54: “The Texas Rangers collapsed into a series of Western cliches..”
  105. ^ Berlinale 2020: “...civilization and the savagery of nature collide, provide hints to the basic conflict Vidor would explore in later Westerns – and carry to a glorious extreme in Duel in the Sun.”
  106. ^ Donald T. Critchlow (October 21, 2013). When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics. Cambridge University Press. pp. 67–. ISBN 978-1-107-65028-2.
  107. ^ Vidor, King Wallis (June 15, 1963). "Overcoming Fear as Ignorance". The Christian Science Sentinel.
  108. ^ Vidor, King Wallis (January 1959). "Confidence in Ever-Present Supply". The Christian Science Journal.
  109. ^ Vidor, King Wallis. "That which hath been is now". Christian Science Journal. Christian Science Publishing Society. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  110. ^ "King Vidor".
  111. ^ "11th Moscow International Film Festival (1979)". MIFF. Archived from the original on July 28, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
  112. ^ https://www.deutsche-kinemathek.de/de/besuch/festivals-symposien/king-vidor
  113. ^ "Berlinale 2020: Retrospective "King Vidor"". Berlinale. Retrieved February 28, 2020.

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