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Wyler and “Goldwynitis” (reprinted) — 5 Comments

  1. Difficult people should not work together, but if they have to, at least they should make good products. Goldwyn and Wyler certainly did this.

  2. Jim, a fascinating and detailed post on a subject related to Wyler that seldom gets much attention–his professional relationship with Samuel Goldwyn. Goldwyn had a reputation for obsession with profit, questionable artistic judgment, and for interference on the set rivaled only by Selznick. But he had deep pockets, and you make a good case that Goldwyn and Wyler's was a symbiotic relationship. Goldwyn gave Wyler the budgets he needed for the meticulous job of direction he desired, and Wyler in turn gave Goldwyn the kind of picture that granted him not just profits, but prestige.

    When you consider the films Wyler made with Goldwyn, they're an unbroken string of triumph on the profit, the popularity, and the artistic levels. Wyler made some great pictures after Goldwyn, and Goldwyn some good ones, but never with the consistency these partners/adversaries achieved working together.

  3. This was a wonderful post, giving us a great insight into these two men. There's material here for a movie all on its own, these two stubborn, dictatorial, and enigmatic men and their troubled partnership. I really love Hecht's metaphor of the slot machine. I've always been fascinated by the story of Goldwyn crying after he won the Oscar for Best Years of Our Lives. In so many ways he was the archetypal movie mogul: loud, crude, and money-making. But whenever you think you have the man figured out, he throws you a curve ball.

  4. Jim, As much as I've been aware that Wyler made many of his best films for Goldwyn, I knew nothing of the details of their long association (other than the occasional anecdote here and there) or why their working relationship ended. This is a fascinating and recap of the Wyler/Goldwyn connection. Wyler seems to have done well in difficult collaborations – from Margaret Sullavan and Bette Davis to Sam Goldwyn.