ARTISTS AND MOGULS

Pair-enthetically speaking, polar-opposite people fall into two classifications; e.g.: extrovert and introvert, progressive and conservative, world-wise and gullible, etc. One can even find two opposites in one person:

There is another split as uncompromising (but arguably not as open-and-shut) as those above….and that is the great divide between creative people (including creative artists/those who appreciate them), and those without a creative bone in their dna. Seldom is this chasm more pronounced than in the post-silent film era known as The Golden Age of Hollywood, when movie moguls such as Samuel Goldwyn ruled the roost, and creators like William Wyler (director of such acclaimed films as DODSWORTH and THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES) fought for creative control of the movies they directed. The following passage from the Wyler biography A TALENT FOR TROUBLE typifies their separate tracks:

Not long before filming ended on Dodsworth, Wyler was summoned to Goldwyn’s home. He arrived in a pleasant frame of mind, having heard his boss was happy with the nearly completed footage. But Wyler was not greeted by a happy man.
Goldwyn, recovering from a gall bladder operation and the extraction of his appendix, had been unable to keep his usual close watch on the progress of his productions. Though he liked what he’d been shown of Dodsworth, he positively loathed the footage of Come and Get It, which Howard Hawks was filming.
Hawks had rewritten some of the script and improvised scenes. An infuriated Goldwyn had called Hawks on the carpet and fired him. Now Goldwyn needed someone to finish Come and Get It. His new favorite, Wyler, quickly came to mind.
Goldwyn suggested the idea gently. Wyler begged off gently. “I can’t just walk into another man’s picture,” he said.
Goldwyn insisted. Wyler declined, more firmly. This sent Goldwyn into a temper tantrum.
“We had a scene I’ll never forget. Sam was in bed, but he raised such hell that Frances, his wife, ran in with a flyswatter and started beating him over the legs while he was screaming at me. He said he was going to ruin me, fix it so I’d never be able to get another job in Hollywood as long as I lived.”
“I ended up doing it because in those days guys like Goldwyn and Louis B. Mayer could ruin you.”

So the next time you watch a Golden Age movie classic with its glamorous stars and character actors bringing to life the creative vision of its writers and director, know that what you see on the screen may be less dramatic than what went on behind the scenes.

P.S. Were you wondering where I got the idea for the title of this post? I didn’t think so….but I’ll tell you anyway. It’s a play on the title of the 1937 film ARTISTS AND MODELS (in which this song played a part):