Newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst formed Cosmopolitan in conjunction with Adolph Zukor of Paramount after Hearst's bid for entry into the motion picture business was rebuffed by United Artists. The advantage of Paramount having a production deal with Cosmopolitan was that they had the film rights to stories that had appeared in the wide variety of Hearst's magazines. These included Cosmopolitan magazine (from which Hearst took the film company's name) as well as Harpers Bazaar and Good Housekeeping. Thus the stories arrived pre-sold to the public, who were familiar with them through reading them in Hearst's magazines. Hearst's magazines would also advertise and promote his films.
Cosmopolitan heavily promoted the career of Hearst's lover, actress Marion Davies. She appeared in twenty-nine silent and seventeen talking films with the company.
Due to disagreements with Paramount in the distribution of the Cosmopolitan Pictures in block booking venues, Hearst left Paramount to have his films released by other studios. Starting in 1923, they were distributed or co-produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer until 1934 when a disagreement with Louis B. Mayer over the film Marie Antoinette led Cosmopolitan to go to Warner Brothers.
Robert G. Vignola is a director strongly associated with Cosmopolitan Productions. He directed several films there, including 1922's extravagant When Knighthood Was in Flower, which at a cost of $1.8 million, was the most expensive picture ever made at the time. Director King Vidor made three comedies with Cosmopolitan: Show People (1928), The Patsy (1928) and Not So Dumb (1930), each starring Davies. One film without Davies was The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932, MGM).
- pp. 279-280 Nasaw, David The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst 2001 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- p.280 Ibid
- p.102 Koszarski, Richard An Evening's Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture, 1915-1928 University of California Press
- p. 208 Pizzitola, Louis Hearst over Hollywood: Power, Passion, and Propaganda in the Movies Columbia University Press
- p.189 Procter, Ben H. William Randolph Hearst: Final Edition, 1911-1951 2007 Oxford University Press
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