Trade paper advertisement, 1919
King Wallis Vidor
February 8, 1894
Galveston, Texas, U.S.
|Died||November 1, 1982 (aged 88)|
|Other names||King W. Vidor|
|Occupation||Film director, producer, screenwriter|
(m. 1915; div. 1924)
(m. 1926; div. 1931)
(m. 1932; her death 1978)
King Wallis Vidor (//; February 8, 1894 – November 1, 1982) was an American film director, film producer, and screenwriter whose 67-year film-making career successfully spanned 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.
His most outstanding and successful film in the silent era is The Big Parade (1925). 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). His dramatic depictions of the American western landscape endow nature with a sinister force where his characters struggle for survival and redemption.
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.
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." 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." 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.  Vidor's mother, Kate Wallis, of Scotch-English descent, was a relative of the second wife of iconic frontiersman and politician Davy Crockett. The “King” in King Vidor is no sobriquet, but his given name in honor of his mother's favorite brother, King Wallis.
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.  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." 
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.” 
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 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 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
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).
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.
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. 
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.
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..
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.
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.
”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:
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.
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 the recluse achieves 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. 
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.
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. 
Vidor and Moore would begin a three-year romance on the set of The Sky Pilot that became “a Hollywood legend”.
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.
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.
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. 
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. 
Vidor Village went bankrupt in 1922. Vidor, now without a studio, offered his services to the top executives in the film industry.
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”. 
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. 
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.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM): 1923–1944
Silent era: 1923–1928
Vidor's yeoman service to Louis B. Mayer secured him entrée into 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. 
Vidor was content to adapt these “prestigious properties” so securing his reputation as a reliable studio asset. 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. 
Vidor and the John Gilbert collaborations: 1925–1926
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 an 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. 
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. 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.
A silent era magnum opus: The Big Parade: 1925
In 1925 made The Big Parade, among the most acclaimed films of the silent era, and a tremendous commercial success.  The Big Parade, a war-romance 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. 
Vidor's next film would be a startling departure from romantic entertainment to an exposure of the “cruel deception of the American dream”.
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 their 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 delay in releasing the film. The Crowd has since been recognized as one of the “masterpieces" of the late silent era.
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 - Hearst's longtime mistress - in these Cosmopolitan-supervised 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.  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. 
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.
Early sound era: 1929–1937
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 expatriates, 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. 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. 
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.
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 to 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.
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).
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.
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.
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. 
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.
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.
Bird of Paradise and RKO Pictures : Sojourn in Hawaii, 1932
After finishing the sentimental vehicle starring Wallace Beery, 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.
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.
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.
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 Midwest and drove millions into low wage seasonal agricultural labor. 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.
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).
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.  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 possess various talents and commitments. The film raises questions as to the legitimacy of the American system of democracy and to government imposed socialism. 
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.
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)
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. 
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.
Cynara (1932), 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...”
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).
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”.
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. 
Despite the success of the film it would be his last with Goldwyn, as Vidor had tired of the producer's outbursts on the set. Vidor emphatically declined to work with the “mercurial” producer again.
Paramount Pictures: 1935–1936
Paramount production manager at Paramount Pictures, Ernst Lubitsch, persuaded Vidor to undertake the direction of a film based on a story that 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 antebellum 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 Sullavan) 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. 
The novel So Red the Rose (1934) by Stark Young in its narrative and theme anticipates author Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind (1936). Vidor, initially tapped to direct Mitchell's epic, was ultimately assigned to director George Cukor.
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.
At a period in the 1930s when Western theme films were relegated to low-budget B movies, Paramount studios financed an A Western for Vidor at $625,000 (lowered to $450,000 when star Gary Cooper was replaced with Fred MacMurray in the lead role.) 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.”.
The film's scenario and script was penned by Vidor and wife Elizabeth Hill, based loosely on 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).
In the 1930s Vidor became a leading advocate for the formation of the Screen Directors Guild (SDG) and since 1960 called the Director’s Guild of America (DGA), when television directors joined its ranks.
In an effort to enlarge movie director’s meager influence in studio production decisions, Vidor personally exhorted a dozen or more leading directors, among them Howard Hawks, William Wellman, Ernst Lubitsch and Lewis Milestone to form a union, leading to the incorporation of the SDG in January 1936. By 1938, the collective bargaining unit had grown from a founding membership of 29 to an inclusive union of 600, representing Hollywood directors and assistant directors. The demands under Vidor’s tenure at SDG were mild, seeking increased opportunities to examine scripts before filming and to make the initial cut on a movie.
As the SDG’s first president, and a founding member of the anti-Communist group the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals Vidor failed to bring the SDG into affiliation with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) that had already organized actors and screenwriters (deemed a “Bolshevik” political front by anti-communist critics). Not until 1939 would the directors sign an accord with these sister guilds, under then SDG president Frank Capra.
Upon completion of Stella Dallas and his disaffection from Samuel Goldwyn, Vidor returned to M-G-M under a five-film contract that would produce The Citadel (1938), Northwest Passage (1940), Comrade X (1940), H. M. Pulham, Esq. (1941) and An American Romance (1944). In 1939, Vidor would also direct the final three weeks of primary filming for The Wizard of Oz (1939).
Film historian John Baxter describes the demands that the studio system at M-G-M had on an auteur director such as Vidor in this period:
"M-G-M’s assembly line system caught up with even top directors like Vidor, who could be called on to pass judgment on a new property or even prepare a project, only to find themselves a few days later shifted to something else...”
These unconsummated projects at M-G-M include National Velvet (1944) and The Yearling (1946), the later in which Vidor presided over a failed attempt to produce a population of juvenile deer who would be age-appropriate throughout the production (female deer refused to reproduce out of season). Both films would be completed by the director Clarence Brown. Vidor further invested six months shooting an Amazon River survival-adventure, The Witch in the Wilderness from which he was diverted to perform pre-production for Northwest Passage (1940). This period would be one of transition for Vidor but would lead to an artistic phase where he created some of his richest and most characteristic works. 
The Citadel: The first picture under the contract and the first under the Screen Directors Guild (SDG) was The Citadel in 1938. Filmed in England at a time the British government and trade unions had placed restrictions designed to extract a portion of the highly lucrative American movie exports to the British Isles. M-G-M, as a tactical olive branch, agreed to hire British actors as cast members for The Citadel and provided them generous compensation. (American actress Rosalind Russel and Vidor were the only two non-Britons who served on the film’s production).
The movie is a close adaptation of A. J. Cronin's exposé of the mercenary aspects of the medical profession that entices doctors to serve the upper-classes at the expense of the poor. Vidor’s Christian Science-inspired detachment from the medical profession influence his handling of the story, in which an independent doctor’s cooperative is favored over both socialized medicine and a profit-driven medical establishment.
The protagonist, Dr. Andrew Manson (Robert Donat) ultimately resorts to an act of anarchism by using explosives to destroy a disease-producing sewer, but emerges personally vindicated.  A success at the Academy Awards, the film garnered nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Donat), Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
During the late 1930s M-G-M enlisted Vidor to assume artistic and technical responsibilities, some of which went uncredited. The most outstanding of these was his shooting of the black-and-white “Kansas" sequences in The Wizard of Oz, including the notable musical production in which Dorothy Judy Garland sings "Over the Rainbow". Portions of the Technicolor sequences that depict Dorothy and her companions lulled into sleep on a field of poppies were also handled by Vidor.
The sound era saw the eclipse of the Western movie that had its heyday in the silent era and by the 1930s the genre was relegated to the producers of B movies. By the end of the decade high-budget films depicting the Indian Wars in the America of the 18th and 19th century reappeared, notably Ford's Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) and DeMille's North West Mounted Police (1940) 
Northwest Passage: Based on an American colonial-era epic novel, the film describes a punitive expedition against an Abenaki (Iroquois) village by a unit of British Army irregulars during the French and Indian Wars. Major Robert Rogers (Spencer Tracy) leads his green-clad “Roberts Rangers” on a grueling trek through 200 miles of wilderness. The Rangers fall upon the village and brutally exterminate the inhabitants who are suspected of assaulting white settlements. A demoralized retreat ensues led by Rogers. Under retaliatory attack by Indians and a savage landscape the Rangers are pushed to the limits of their endurance, some reduced to cannibalism and madness. 
The script by Laurence Stallings and Talbot Jennings (and several uncredited writers) conveys the unabashed anti-Indian hatred that motivates Roger’s men to their task.The level of violence anticipates film noir of the post-World War II period and the McCarthy era.
Vidor began filming in July 1939, just weeks before war was declared in Europe and the isolationist or interventionist policies were widely debated. The film influenced tropes that appeared in subsequent war films, depicting small military units operating behind enemy lines and relying on harsh tactics to destroy enemy combatants. The relevance of Northwest Passage’s sanguinary adventurer to contemporary Americans confronted with a looming world war is never made explicit but raises moral questions on “military virtue” and how a modern war might be conducted. Though Vidor was “anti-fascist” his political predilections are left unstated in Northwest Passage. Vidor established an unusually close professional relationship with the film’s star, Spencer Tracy and the actor delivered what Vidor considered a performance of “tremendous conviction”. 
Vidor used the new three-strip Technicolor camera system (the two huge 800-pound [365 kg] cameras had to be transported by train). The color photography conveys more than the scenic beauty of Payette Lake, injecting documentary realism into key sequences. Notable are those of the Rangers portaging boats through a rugged mountain pass, and the famous river “human chain” crossing. Despite its enormous box office earnings, Northwest Passage failed to recoup its $2 million production costs. Northwest Passage’s cinematography earned an Oscer nomination in that category.
Comrade X: A political comedy set in the Soviet Union, Comrade X (1940) was conceived as a vehicle for M-G-M’s glamorous acquisition Hedy Lamarr, in the hopes they might duplicate the profits they reaped from M-G-M star Greta Garbo in Ninotchka (1939). "Comrade" X is played by Clark Gable, a cynical American journalist who exposes Stalin-era cultural falsifications in his dispatches to his newspaper in the United States. Lamarr plays a Moscow tram conductor. Her coldly logical persona ultimately proves susceptible to Gable’s America-inspired enthusiasms. Released in December 1940, the scurrilous tone of the dialogue toward the USSR officials was consistent with US government posture in the aftermath of the Hitler–Stalin Pact of August 1939. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June of 1941 (after America’s entry into WWII in December 1941), Russians became US allies in the war effort against the Axis powers. Reflecting these developments, M-G-M executives, just six months after the film's release, inserted a disclaimer assuring audiences that the movie was only a farce, not a hostile critique of the USSR. Writer Walter Reisch, who also scripted Ninotchka, earned an oscar nomination for best original story. Vidor disparaged the picture as “an insignificant light comedy” that afforded him “a change of pace.” Vidor’s next picture would be a cold-eyed examination of the institution of marriage and a much more personal work: H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941). 
H. M. Pulham, Esq.: With wife and screenwriting partner Elizabeth Hill, Vidor adapted John P. Marquand's highly popular novel of the same name. A story of a married man tempted to revive an affair with an old flame, Vidor drew upon memories of a failed romance from his own youth. 
Harry Pulham (Robert Young), a member of the New England’s conservative upper-middle class, is stultified by the respectable routines of life and a proper marriage to his wife Kay (Ruth Hussey). Vidor examines Pulham’s past in a series of flashbacks that reveal a youthful affair Harry had with an ambitious German immigrant, Marvin Myles (Hedy Lamaar) at a New York advertising agency. They prove incompatible, largely due to different class orientation and expectations: Marvin pursues her dynamic career in New York and Harry returns to the security of his Bostonian social establishment. In an act of desperate nostalgia, Pulham attempts to rekindle the relationship 20 years later, to no avail. His attempt at rebellion failed, Harry Pulham consciously submits to a life of conformity that falls short of freedom but offers self-respect and a modest contentment.
H. M. Pulham, Esq was completed by Vidor after years of manufacturing “conventional successes” for M-G-M. The calm certitude of Harry Pulham in the face of enforced conformity may reflect Vidor’s determination to artistically address larger issues in contemporary American society. His next, and final movie for M-G-M, would be the “Steel” component of his “War, Wheat and Steel” film trilogy: An American Romance (1944). 
An American Romance: Rather than demonstrate his patriotism by joining a military film unit Vidor attempted to create a paean to American democracy. His 1944 An American Romance represents the “steel” installment of Vidor’s “War, Wheat and Steel” trilogy and serves as his “industrial epic”.and emerged from an extremely convoluted screenwriting evolution. Vidor personifies the relationship between man and the natural resources on which struggles to impose his purpose on nature.
The lead role of immigrant Stefan Dubechek was offered to Spencer Tracy but the actor declined, an acute disappointment for the director who had greatly admired Tracy’s performance in his Northwest Passage (1940). Vidor’s dissatisfaction with the studio’s casting, including lead Brian Donlevy, led Vidor to concentrate on the industrial landscape to reveal the motivations of his characters. 
Despite producer Louis B. Mayer's personal enthusiasm for the picture, his studio deleted 30-minutes from the movie, mostly essential human interest sequences only preserving the abundant documentary scenes. Disgusted by M-G-M’s mutilations, Vidor terminated his 20-year association with the studio.  The film received negative reviews and was a financial failure. Some critics noted a shift in Vidor’s focus from working class struggles to celebrating the ascent of a “Ford-like” industrial magnate. Film historian Raymond Durgnat considers the picture “his least personal, artistically weakest and most spiritually confused.”
The failure of An American Romance, after an artistic investment of three years, staggered Vidor and left him deeply demoralized. The break with M-G-M presented an opportunity to establish a more satisfying relationship with other studio producers. Emerging from this “spiritual” nadir he would create a Western of great intensity: Duel in the Sun (1946).
A Sound Era Magnum Opus: Duel in the Sun (1946)
When Selznick purchased the rights to the Niven Busch's novel "Duel in the Sun" in 1944, Vidor agreed to rewrite Oliver H. P. Garrett's screenplay and direct a miniature Western, “small” but “intense”. Selznick’s increasingly grandiose plans for the production involved his wish to promote the career of actress-mistress Jennifer Jones and to create a movie rivaling his successful 1939 Gone with the Wind. Selzick’s personal and artistic ambitions for Duel in the Sun led to conflicts with Vidor over development of the themes which emphasized “sex, violence and spectacle”. Vidor walked off the set just before primary filming was completed, unhappy with Selznick’s intrusive management. The producer would enlist eight additional directors to complete the picture. Though the final cut was made without Vidor’s participation, the production reflects the participation of these talented filmmakers, among them William Dieterle and Josef von Sternberg. Vidor was awarded sole screen credit after Directors Guild arbitration. 
Duel in the Sun is a melodramatic treatment of a Western theme concerning a conflict between two generations of the McCanles family. The elderly and crippled McCanles Lionel Barrymore presides with an iron fist over his a vast cattle estate with his invalid wife Laura Belle Candles Lillian Gish. Their two sons, Lewt and Jess, are polar opposites: the educated Jess “the good son” Joseph Cotton takes after his refined mother, while Lewt “the bad son” Gregory Peck emulates his domineering cattle baron father. The adoption of the young orphan girl Pearl Chavez, the “half-breed” offspring of a European gentleman and a native-American mother, whom Pearl’s father has murdered and been executed for his crime, introduces a fatal element into the McCanles family. The film noir ending includes an attempted fratricide and a suicide-like love pact, destroying the McCanles family.
The “unbridled sexuality” portrayed by Vidor between Pearl and Lewt created a furor that drew criticism from the US Congressmen and film censors, which led to the studio cutting several minutes before its final release.
Selznick launched Duel in the Sun in hundreds of theaters, backed by a multiple-million dollar promotional campaign. Despite the film’s poor critical reception (termed “Lust in the Dust” by its detractors) the picture’s box office returns rivaled the highest grossing film of the year, The Best Years of Our Lives (1946).
Film archivist Charles Silver offered this appraisal of the Vidor-Selznick collaboration:
"[W]hen Pearl Chavez (Jennifer Jones) rides out to kill Lewt (Gregory Peck), she is uncannily transformed into a phantasm of a young resolute Mrs. McCanles (Lillian Gish), thus killing the son she despises via the daughter she never had. This is perhaps the most outrageous conceit of an entirely outrageous movie, and it is brilliant. As Andrew Sarris has said: ‘In cinema, as in all art, only those who risk the ridiculous have a real shot at the sublime.’ In Duel in the Sun, an older, less hopeful, but still enterprising King Vidor came damn close to the bullseye."
On Our Merry Way (A Miracle Can Happen), Universal Studios 1948
In the aftermath of his critical failures in An American Romance (1944) and Duel in the Sun (1946), Vidor disengaged from Hollywood film production to purchase his Willow Creek Ranch in Paso Robles, California. 
A Miracle Can Happen (1948) is a film sketch that Vidor participated in with co-director Leslie Fenton during this period of relative inactivity. A “low-budget” Universal Studios release of the early baby boom era, this “omnibus” presents vignettes filmed or performed by an array of actors and directors (some of them returning from service in the armed forces) among them Burgess Meredith, Paulette Goddard, Dorothy Lamour, James Stewart, John Houston and George Stevens. (An episode with British actor Charles Laughton was cut from the final release, a disappointment to Vidor.) The picture’s title was changed shortly after opening to On Our Merry Way to promote its comedic virtues. Vidor dismissed the film from his oeuvre in later years.
In 1948 Vidor was diverted from making a series of 16mm Westerns for television and produced on his ranch when Warner Brothers studios approached him to direct an adaption of author Ayn Rand's controversial novel The Fountainhead. Vidor immediately accepted the offer.
Warner Brothers: 1949-1951
Vidor’s three films for Warner Brothers studios—The Fountainhead (1949), Beyond the Forest (1949) and Lightning Strikes Twice (1951)—were crafted to reconcile the excessive and amoral violence displayed in his Duel in the Sun (1946) with a constructive presentation of American individualism that comported with his Christian Science precepts of morality.
The Fountainhead (1949): Unhappy with the screen adaption offered by Warner Brothers for Ayn Rand's 1938 novel, The Fountainhead Vidor asked the author to write the script. Rand accepted but inserted a caveat into her contract that required that she authorize any deviation from the book’s story or dialogue, which Vidor abided by.
Rand’s political philosophy of Objectivism is distilled through the character of architect Howard Roark (Gary Cooper), who adopts an uncompromising stand on the physical integrity of his proposed designs. When one of his architectural projects is compromised, he destroys the building with dynamite. At his trial, Roark offers a principled and forthright defense for his act of sabotage and is exonerated by the jury. Though Vidor was committed to developing his own populist notion of American individualism, Rand’s didactic right-wing scenario and script informs much of the film. The Roark character is loosely based on the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, both in the novel and Vidor’s film version.
Vidor’s most outstanding cinematic innovation in The Fountainhead is his highly stylized images of the Manhattan high-rise interiors and skylines. The urban landscapes, created by Art Director Edward Carrere were strongly influenced by German Expressionism and contribute to the film’s compelling film noir character. The eroticism inherent in the sets contributed to an on-screen sexual tension that was augmented by the off-screen affair between Cooper and Patricia Neal, who plays the architect’s ally-adversary Dominique Francon. 
The Fountainhead enjoyed profitable box-office returns but a poor critical reception. Satisfied with his experience at Warner’s, Vidor signed a two-film contract with the studio. In his second picture he would direct Warner’s most prestigious star Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest (1949)
Beyond tha Forest (1949): A lurid noir melodrama that tracks the descent of a petty-bourgeois Madame Bovary-like character, Rosa Moline (Betty Davis) into marital infidelity, murder and a sordid death, the picture has earned a reputation as a “Camp” classic. The film is often cited for providing the phrase “What a dump!”, appropriated by playwright Edward Albee in his 1962 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and its 1966 screen adaption.
Despising the role assigned her by producer Jack Warner and feuding with director Vidor over her character’s portrayal, Davis delivers a startling performance and one of the best of her mid-career. The role of Rosa Molina would be her last film with Warner Brothers after seventeen years with the studio.
Vidor’s characterization of Davis as the unsophisticated Gorgon-like Rosa (the film was titled “La Garce”, [The Bitch], in French releases) were widely rejected by her fans and contemporary film critics and reviews “were the worst of Vidor’s career.” 
Vidor and Max Steiner inserted a leitmotif into those sequences where Rosa obsessively longs for escape from the dull, rural Loyalton to the cosmopolitan and sophisticated Chicago. The “Chicago” theme surfaces (a tune made famous by Judy Garland) in an ironic style reminiscent of film composer Bernard Herrmann. Steiner earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Film Score.
Lightning Strikes Twice (1951): His final picture for Warner Brothers, Vidor attempted to create a film noir tale of a deadly love triangle starring Richard Todd, Ruth Roman and Mercedes McCambridge, a cast that did not suit Vidor. A standard Warner’s melodrama, Vidor declared that the picture “turned out terribly” and is largely unrepresentative of his work except in its western setting and its examination of sexual strife, the theme of the film. Vidor’s next project was proposed by producer Joseph Bernhard after pre-production and casting were nearly complete: Japanese War Bride (1952).
Japanese War Bride (1952): Twentieth Century Fox
The topic of the film, white racial prejudice in in post-WWII America, had been addressed in a number of Hollywood films of the period, including directors Joseph Losey’s The Lawless (1950) and Mark Robson’s Home of the Brave (1949).
The story by co-producer Anson Bond concerns a wounded Korean War veteran Jim Sterling (Don Taylor) who returns with his bride, a Japanese nurse Tae (Shirley Yamaguchi), to his parents farm in California’s Central Valley. Conflicts arise when Jim’s sister-in-law falsely accuses Tae of infidelity sparking conflicts with the neighboring Nisei-owned farm. The picture locates acts of racism towards non-whites as personal neurosis rather than socially constructed prejudice. Vidor’s artistic commitments to the film were minimal in a production that was funded as a B Movie, though he meticulously documents the experience of workers in field and factory.
Before beginning direction of Japanese War Bride, Vidor had already arranged with Bernhard to finance his next project and perhaps “the last great film” of his career: Ruby Gentry (1952). 
Ruby Gentry (1952): Twentieth Century Fox
With Ruby Gentry, Vidor revisits the themes and scenario of Duel in the Sun (1946), in which an impoverished young woman, Jennifer Jones (Ruby nee Corey, later Gentry), is taken in by a well-to-do couple. When the foster mother dies (Josephine Hutchinson) Ruby marries the widower (Karl Malden) for security, but he too dies under circumstances that cast suspicions on Ruby. She is harried by her evangelical preacher-sibling (James Anderson) and her love affair with the son of a local land-owing scion (Charleston Heston) leads to a deadly shootout, a climax that recalls Vidor’s violent 1946 Western. 
Film historian Raymond Durgnat champions Ruby Gentry “as a truly great American film...film noir imbued with new fervor” that combines a radical social understanding with a Hollywood veneer and an intensely personal artistic statement. Vidor ranks Ruby Gentry among his most artistically gratifying works: “I had complete freedom in shooting it, and Selznick, who could have had an influence on Jennifer Jones, didn’t intervene. I think I succeeded in getting something out of Jennifer, something quite profound and subtle.” The swamp sequence where Ruby and her lover Boake hunt one another is “perhaps the best sequence [Vidor] ever filmed.” Ruby Gentry showcases the essential elements of Vidor's oeuvre depicting the extremes of passion inherent in humanity and nature. Vidor commented on these elements as follows:
"There's one scene I like a lot...because it corresponds to something vital. It's the scene where the girl [Jennifer Jones] has the barrage demolished. At the moment when the earth is flooded, the man Charleston Heston is destroyed. All his ambitions crumble. I think there is a fine symbol there..."
As part of the 75th Anniversary of Thomas Edison’s invention of electric light, Vidor adapted two short stories for television produced by David O. Selznick. The production aired on all the major American TV networks on 24 October 1954.
Vidor’s contributions included “A Kiss for the Lieutenant” by author Arthur Gordon starring Kim Novak,an amusing romantic vignette, as well as an adaption of novelist John Steinbeck’s short story “Leader of the People” (1937) (from his novella The Red Pony) in which a retired wagon-master, Walter Brennan, rebuffed by his son Harry Morgan, finds a sympathetic audience for his War Horse reminiscences about the Old West in his grandson Brandon DeWilde. Screenwriter Ben Hecht wrote the scripts for both segments. 
In 1954 Vidor, in collaboration with longtime associate and screenwriter Laurence Stallings pursued a remake of the director’s silent era The Turn in the Road (1919). Vidor’s persistent efforts to revive this Christian Science themed work spanning 15 years in the post-war period was never consummated, though a cast was proposed for a Allied Artists production 1n 1960. Setting aside this endeavor, Vidor opted to film a Western with Universal-International, Man Without a Star (1955).
Man Without a Star, 1955
Based on a story by Dee Linford of the same name and scripted by Borden Chase, Man Without a Star is an iconographic Western tale of remorseless struggle between a wealthy rancher Reed Bowman (Jeanne Crain) and small homesteaders. Saddle-tramp and gunman Dempsey Rae (Kirk Douglas) is drawn into the vortex of violence, that Vidor symbolizes with ubiquitous barbed-wire. The cowboy ultimately prevails against the hired gunslinger Steve Miles (Richard Boone) who had years ago murdered the Rae’s younger brother. 
Kirk Douglas acted as both the star and uncredited producer in a collaborative effort with director Vidor. Neither was entirely satisfied with the result. Vidor failed to fully develop his thematic conception, the ideal of balancing personal freedoms with conservation of the land as a heritage.  Vidor and Douglas succeeded in creating Douglas’s splendid character, Dempsey Rae, who emerges as a vital force, especially in the saloon-banjo sequence that screenwriter Borden Chase termed “pure King Vidor”.
Man Without a Star, rated as “a minor work” by biographer John Baxter, marks a philosophical transition in Vidor’s outlook towards Hollywood: the Dempsey Rae figure, though retaining his personal integrity, “is a man without a star to follow; no ideal, no goal” reflecting a declining enthusiasm by the director for American topics. Vidor’s final two movies, the epics War and Peace (an adaption of the novel by Russian author Leo Tolstoy, and Solomon and Sheba, a story from the Old Testament, followed the director’s realization that his self-conceived film proposals would not be welcomed by commercial movie enterprises. This pair of historical costume dramas were created outside Hollywood, both filmed and financed in Europe.
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.
In 1944 Vidor, a Republican, 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).
Vidor was married three times:
- Florence Arto (m. 1915–1924)
- (later married Jascha Heifetz)
- Suzanne (1918–2003)
- (adopted by Jascha Heifetz)
- Eleanor Boardman (m. 1926–1931)
- Antonia (1927–2012)
- Belinda (born 1930)
- Elizabeth Hill (m. 1932–1978)
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.
Academy Awards and nominations
|1927–28||Best Director in a Dramatic Picture||The Crowd||Frank Borzage – 7th Heaven|
|1929–30||Best Director||Hallelujah||Lewis Milestone – All Quiet on the Western Front|
|1931–32||Outstanding Production||The Champ||Irving Thalberg – Grand Hotel|
|Best Director||Frank Borzage – Bad Girl|
|1938||Best Director||The Citadel||Frank Capra – You Can't Take It with You|
|1956||Best Director||War and Peace||George Stevens – Giant|
|1979||Academy Honorary Award||for his incomparable achievements as a cinematic creator and innovator|
Directed Academy Award performances
|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
|Academy Award |
|1936||The Texas Rangers|
|1946||Duel in the Sun|
|1949||Beyond the Forest|
|1956||War and Peace|
At the 11th Moscow International Film Festival in 1979, he was awarded with the Honorable Prize for the contribution to cinema. In 2020, Vidor was honored with a retrospective at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival, showcasing more than 30 of his films.
- 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.”
- 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).“
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- Higham 1972: “Vidor has always been a poet of the American landscape, creating vivid images of rural life...”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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...”
- Thomson, 2007: “He received five best director nominations and an honorary Oscar” from the Academy of Arts and Science.
- "King Vidor". IMDb.
- 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...”
- 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.
- Baxter 1976, p. 4
- Gallagher, 2007; Mother was "Scotch-Irish"
- Flint, Peter B. (November 2, 1982). "King Vidor, 88, Director of Films for More Than 40 Years, Is Dead" – via NYTimes.com.
- Larson, Erik (1999). Isaac's Storm. Random House Publishing. ISBN 0-609-60233-0.
- Thomson, 2007
- Thomson, 2007
- 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.”
- Baxter, 1976, p. 5: Vidor remarked that he “hated” the institution.
- Durgnat, Raymond; Simmon, Scott (January 1, 1988). King Vidor, American. University of California Press. p. 24 – via Internet Archive.
- "12th Berlin International Film Festival: Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
- "6th Moscow International Film Festival (1969)". MIFF. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
- Baxter 1976. P. 5
- Baxter 1976. P. 5: In Tow “a documentary”
Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 21: In Tow “a two-reel comedy...in all respects incompetent.”
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 21-22
- 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
- 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.
- Holliman, TMC
- Baxter 1976. P. 8-9
- Berlinale, 2020
- 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.’
- Baxter, 1976. P. 9
Durgnat and Simmons, 1988 p. 26: “Vidor's first five features are lost...”
- Baxter 1976. P. 9-10
- Berlinale 2020, 2020: “He was a Christian Scientist, although not a particularly devout one. And the creed was somewhat influenced by that faith.”
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988 p. 31 See figure 14
- Baxter, 1976. P. 10
- 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.’”
- 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...”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- Baxter 1976, p. 13-14
- 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.”
- Baxter 1976, p. 14
- 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...”
- Baxter 1976, p. 14-15, p. 18, marriage to Boardman
- 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.”
- 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.
- Baxter 1976, p. 15-16
- Baxter 1976, p. 16
- Baxter 1976, p. 17
- Baxter 1976, p. 18-19
- Baxter 1976, p. “...shows nature as a sinister force...” p. 20: Vidor “was often able to introduce a dramatically high-lighted use of nature.”
- 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
- Baxter 1976, p. 19–20
- Baxter 1976 p. 20
- 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).”
- 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.”
- 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.
- Baxter 1976 p. 33
Thomson, 2007: “...one of the boldest departures in American silent pictures...”
- Berlinale, 2020. “Guts” quote.
Silver 2010: “...one of the crown jewels of the [late Silent Era].”
Baxter 1972 p. 151
Baxter 1976 p. 30, p. 33
- 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.”
- 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”
- 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”.
- 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”"
- 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)
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988 p. 97: “Vidor's long-cherished project about southern black life...”
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 95
- 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...”
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.”
- Reinhardt, 2020
- 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.
- 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...”
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.”
- Durgnat and Simmon 1988 p. 96, 173, 174, 177
- Baxter 1976 p. 49
- 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...”
- 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”.
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 139: “...her ultimate commitment to the land...” And p. 145: “blood” relations and rural family continuity
- 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.”
- Baxter, 1976 p. 51-52
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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...”
- 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.”
- Baxter, 1976 p. 18
Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 117
Baxter, 1972 p. 153: Goldwyn “pursuing as ever his goal of ‘cultural’ films...”
- 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”
- 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.
- Berlinale archive, 2020: Warlock “succumbs to the erotic charms of a lower-class woman – with fatal consequences.”
- 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.
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 165
Baxter, 1976 p. 52-53:
- 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”
- 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.
- 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.
- Baxter, 1976 p. 53-54
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 172, p.176
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 185
- 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.”
- Baxter, 1976 p. 54: See thumbnail sketch of film and “Polka Dot Bandit”.
- 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.”
- Baxter, 1976 p. 54: “The Texas Rangers collapsed into a series of Western cliches..”
- 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.”
- Thomson, 2007: “The Guild was not overreaching in its claims. It sought more time in preproduction, a proper chance to examine a script before filming, and the right to make at least a first cut.
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 172
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 173 and p. 351 re: Wizard of Oz
- Baxter, 1976 p. 58
- Baxter, 1976 p. 59, p. 61: Vidor's Comrade X (1940) and H. M. Pulham, Esq. (1941) “belong to a period of indecision that produced So Red the Rose (1935) and The Texas Rangers (1936)...[b]etween 1939 and 1959 his preoccupation was increasingly with nature, industry and vast forces, the stuff on which his best work has always been founded.”
Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 174
- Baxter, 1976 p. 55-56
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 207: Vidor “keep[s] faith with Cronin's attack on the mercenary spirit of the medical profession…” And: Hollywood would have rejected “an equally incisive attack on the American medicine…” And p. 209: “...the cooperative ideal in the middle way between the dangers of socialism and the problems of an aggressively mercenary medical service…”
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 217: “...Manson's public defeat and private victory in The Citadel.” And p. 213: “...the destructive renunciations that haunt The Citadel...” And p. 227: “...the muckraking tradition behind The Citadel...” And p. 321: “...The Citadel....protest against big business, intellectual trendiness, media control and an apathetic public [in which] Vidor celebrates, not quite terrorism, but ‘direct action’ with dynamite.”
Baxter, 1976 p. 57: On the “blow up” of the sewer.
- Reilly, TMC
- Baxter, 1976 p. 58: Over the Rainbow, “the film’s most famous sequence…”
Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 173-174: “...Hollywood’s most fondly remembered musical number, “Over the Rainbow.”
Galleghar, 2007: “No other director gave Judy Garland comparable moments” as in the Wizard of Oz sequences.
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 185: “the A Western, as predicted, was moribund between 1931 and 1939–or it was perhaps held siege by the nearly one thousand B Westerns of those years.” And p. 190 on Ford and DeMille. And “a resurgence of A Westerns generally” in the late 1930s
- Baxter 1976 p, 63, p. 66: “...unmistakably a master work.”
Silver, 2012: “Whatever its moral and racist implications might be, it is, like the whole of Northwest Passage, undeniably an extraordinary piece of filmmaking.”
Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 174: “...eight weeks of Idaho location work (made particularly cumbersome by Technicolor cameras).”
- Baxter, 1976 p. 64-65
Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 186: “Northwest Passage’s savage anti-indianism…” And p. 190: “...the carnivorous streak in Northwest Passage.” And “...the single most ferocious pre-WWII film…”
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: The scripts “astonishing [anti-Indian] rhetoric...”
Nixon, TMC: “Racial hatred pervades the film, erupting in the action sequences or even among the Rangers in casual scenes where they jokingly banter with each other. However, audiences at the time of the picture's release were willing to overlook that and accept the script's ‘justification’ for the hatred, claiming retaliation for brutal attacks against settlers.”
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 190: “The crescendo of violent anticipates film noir.”
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 12: “...Vidor’s most ferocious film Northwest Passage (1940) - which can be read as a call for World War II intervention by interventionists, and as a call to strenuous self-reliance by isolationists.” And p. 196: Vidor a “pre-mature anti-fascist” who supported the Spanish loyalists in the Spanish Civil War. And...The film “is impeccably balanced between isolation and intervention” allowing the audience to decide for themselves. And p. 192-193: Vidor uses “what were to become favorite motifs of later war films....” And p. 198: The film's “...disquiet about military virtues...” And p. 199: “Northwest Passage comes close to denying us the complacency of imagining we can derive some general rule about the spirit in which war should be waged.”
- Silver, 2012: “Spencer Tracy’s character is strikingly similar to Nathan Brittles, the John Wayne role in Ford’s great She Wore a Yellow Ribbon a decade later...Tracy’s [characterization] both autocratic and idealistic...a classic American hero.”
Baxter, 1976 p. 63
- Baxter, 1976 p. 64: Vidor “rejected the merely scenic...opportunities…” And p. 66: Vidor’s “documentary realism”
Nixon, TMC: “Vidor had significant challenges making the movie in color. For one thing, the tough location shoot required that the bulky equipment needed to shoot in Technicolor had to be transported in two trains to the remote Idaho setting in McCall and the Payette Lake region...The most demanding scene for the actors involved the filming of the "human chain" employed by the Rangers to cross a treacherous body of water.” And “...viewers flocked to see the epic. Unfortunately, costs had run to well over $2 million...so even with packed houses failed to turn a profit.
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 352-353: The film is addressed only in the Filmography section, not in the body of book.
Baxter, 1976 p. 58: Comrade X, “an unabashed self-plagiarism by MGM of its 1939 success Ninotchka”
- Fristoe, TMC: See article for Reisch and Oscar award. Also see Fristoe for Gable/Lamaar film characters.
Berlinale, 2020: “Just as Lubitsch’s classic was a jab at the autocracy of the Soviet Union in the era of the Hitler-Stalin pact, Comrade X paid homage to the anti-authoritarian spirit of Weimar-era cinema.”
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 352–353
- Durgham and Simmons, 1988 p. 205: “...a stark view of the institution [of marriage], H. M. Pulham, Esq...a film he considered most personal.”
- Callahan, 2007: “The book had been a best seller...MGM estimated that more than 5 million people had read it.” And “Vidor used a failed love affair from his own life as an inspiration for the dynamics in this film.”
Miller, TMC: Background on Vidor 1925 failed affair..
Durgham and Simmons, 1988 p. 174: “...Vidor and Elizabeth Hill shared script credit.” And p. 205: “But as so often with Vidor in the thirties, marriage itself gets a rough going over. He fought for a stark view of the institution in... H. M. Pulham, Esq...a feature [of the film] he considered most personal” and Durgham and Simmons “can’t think of another director whose portrayal of marriage is so bleak.”
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 212-213: The film examines the virtues of “abstention from revolt...It asserts a suburban routine and its sedate virtue, when deliberately chosen, as a form of freedom. [The film's] whole structure is dedicated to this twist.” (See Synopsis on same pages). And p. 214: In New York, Harry Pulham is “stunned to find a woman [Marvin Myles, played by Heddy Lamarr] driven by a zeal he’s known, and then only infrequently, in men.” And p. 216: Pulham, confronted with the advertising girl...withdraws” back to New England.
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 206: A film “highly regarded in its day...with Vidor receiving his best reviews since his MGM silents.” And “Vidor’s chastened, subdued affirmations that….what an individual might accomplish is a sober rather than a heroic one.” And p. 219: “It is tempting to suggest H.M Pulham, Esq is attempt by Vidor to vindicate an aspect of his own career - the turn it had been taking at M-G-M. It’s a vindication impersonality.”And p. 221: In the 1940s under the “tightly knit” production of Louis B. Mayer “Vidor found himself going to work in the morning like H.M.Pulham.”
- Baxter 1976 p. 61: The film style Vidor applied in H.M Pulham, Esq “a style..he had decided to forget” And: “Between 1939 and 1959 [Vidor’s] preoccupation was to increasingly be with nature, industry and vast forces, the stuff on which his best work has always been founded.”
Higham, 1972: The Big Parade and Our Daily Bread...were the first and second parts of 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...“An American Romance.” And “conventional successes
Baxter, 1976 p. 61: Vidor on actor Robert Young: “...a superb actor without a single problem…” And “In a series of flashbacks recalling an uneventful life of rectitude and quiet achievement, the film developed a character of dignity and charm…”
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 222: “...industrial epic…” And p. 223: “...a chaos of revisions, even by Hollywood standards.” See footnote on same page for chronology.
Higham, 1972: On “trilogy”.
Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 174: Vidor “preferring not to join a military film unit [he concentrated] on a patriotic saga of industrial and immigrant success, ‘an ideal of American democracy’...[and] three years” of effort and multiple scripts to create An American Romance.” And p. 221: The function of Vidor’s film was to “sustain morale and confidence for audiences during wartime.
- Baxter, 1976 p. 66: “...personifies the conflict between man and nature” And p. “...dramatize with typical Vidor romanticism the possibilities in the battle with nature if only...one will sacrifice all and not be swerved.”
Higham, 1972: “Disappointed in the film, many critics noted that Vidor was now celebrating the individualist against the masses in his central figure of a Ford-like tycoon.”
- Baxter, 1976 p. 63: “Tracy’s success in Northwest Passage made his refusal to star in An American Romance even more hurtful to Vidor.”
Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 223: See here for details on Tracy’s decision and other factors.
- Baxter, 1976 p. 66-67: The “actors...subservient to the landscape…”
Callahan, 2007: Vidor “was eventually saddled with Brian Donlevy and Ann Richards, supporting players of limited range and appeal.’
Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 175: “The eventual cast may have been ruinous” to the film’s success.
- Baxter. 1976 p. 66-67: Baxter lists the family scenes deleted that retained “would have made it less of a stylized spectacular.”
Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 175: “MGM cut 30 minutes after its release” and Vidor quit MGM “deeply discouraged.”And p. 6: A “permanent rupture” with MGM. See p. 6 and p. 221 for Louis B. Mayer’s “gushing” remark to Vidor that it was “the greatest picture our company ever made” And p. 232: On mutilation of the film “half-chopped lap-dissolves” made in “haste”.
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 6: for quote. And p. 232: “The critical reaction to the film was overwhelmingly negative.”
Higham, 1972: “Disappointed in the film, many critics noted that Vidor was now celebrating the individualist against the masses in his central figure of a Ford-like tycoon.”
- Callahan, 2007: “American Romance is one of those broken films that gropes compellingly for ultimate answers. It remains Vidor’s most concentrated attempt at dramatizing the galvanizing power that leads a man to work and get ahead.”
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 6 And p. 232: On “spirit” And p. 232: “in some real way, the experience altered Vidor’s spirit. His post-war films are turbulent, almost spiritually desperate.” And p. 235: “...severing the bond with MGM was just the needed jolt” Vidor required to inspire him to continue filmmaking.
Baxter, 1976 p. 68: See here for Vidor’s troubling “conflicts” with “domineering moguls” under whose influence he was “pressured to do his best.”
Baxter, 1976 p. 68: “...perhaps the greatest outdoor film of the forties.”
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 235
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p.239
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 238-239: Selznick ``planning a modest Western which expanded as he went along, until he proclaimed his ambition to... ‘top’ Gone with the Wind.” And Vidor considered Garrett’s script “dull” and wished to limit the film to a “small” but “intense Western situation.” And Selznick’s repeated “script revisions delivered in person on the set led Vidor to withdraw amid “mutual recriminations”
Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 235: On Selznick and Vidor And p. 239: Screen Guild arbitration. And p. 239-240: On the beneficial influence of “many hands” in a “concerto, not a solo” effort.
Baxter, 1976 p. 68: “The hand of Selznick lies heavily but not without a sureness of touch” on the film. And p. 69: “”Selnick...tried to recapture the scope and vivacity of Gone With The Wind. And: “The interference [by Selznick] of which Vidor complained added significantly to the film’s success...Vidor found the constant presence of Selznick on the set galling and he walked off when the film was not quite completed.”
Callahan, 2007: “The movie is more Selznick than Vidor, who finally walked off the set in frustration at the impresario’s compulsive suggestions.”
Silver, 1982: “We will probably never know for sure just how much of the film was directed by Vidor, Sternberg, William Dieterle, Otto Brower, or David O. Selznick.
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 243: Duel in the Sun “marks a shift...to film noir [that incorporated] neurotic violence and in vindicating a ‘notorious’ woman.”
Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p.243: “...probably the second film noir in Technicolor after Leave Her to Heaven.”
- Silver, 1982: “Duel in the Sun is ‘the tale of a sun blistered romance involving a half-breed Indian girl and two dagger-eyed Texas brothers, one of them very good and the other very bad’ (Bosley Crowther, N.Y. Times).”
Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p.243: Duel in the Sun marked a new, cautious liberalization of Hollywood’s attitudes to America’s assorted race prejudices...” And p.243: Duel in the Sun “is racist in the interesting sense of especially admiring a different ethnicity. Pearl Chavez’s “half-breed” blood is rich blood, not bad blood, and whatever strain of passion she has too much of, the McCanles have too little of." (italics in original)
- Baxter, 1976 p.70
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p.251: a brief remark on the Griffith-Gish-Barrymore incident by Durgnat.
- Miller, TMC: Duel in the Sun elicited “complaints in Congress about the picture's unbridled sexuality.”
Simmons, 2004: “...the film's delirious pitch is recognizably in Vidor's best postwar mode. In an attempt to quell the censorship furor, Duel was cut by nine minutes before wide release.” And “Lust in the Dust” quote, “...a lurid tale...”
- Miller, TMC: Selznick, “opening the film in hundreds of theaters around the country rather than starting slowly in a few first-run houses...[Duel in the Sun] proved a box-office bonanza as audiences, prodded by a $2 million publicity campaign, raced to see the film wherever it played. Despite pretty awful reviews, the picture grossed $10 million, making it the second-highest-grossing film of the year (behind The Best Years of Our Lives). And “Lust in the Dust” quote
- Silver, 1982
- Thomson, 2007: “The film still has scenes - like the sado-masochistic conclusion where Jones and Gregory Peck kill each other in a harsh rocky landscape - that are a novel injection of disturbed psychology in the Western genre. It is the model of Hollywood going over the top - yet it would not be as vivid without Vidor.
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 236: Both films “production disasters.”
- Baxter, 1976 p. 70: Vidor “omitted the picture from his filmography” and “Little of the film bears serious consideration.” See also for actors involved..
Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 355-356: see analysis and details in short Filmography overview
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 236: “A 26-episode serial of Westerns for television.” And Warner's’ offer to direct The Fountainhead. “Vidor was immediately keen on it.”
Baxter, 1976 p. 71: “controversial novel…”
- Higham, 1972: “The Fountainhead” and “Beyond the Forest” with “Ruby Gentry,” in which Jennifer Jones played a ferocious “free woman,” became a trilogy.
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 255-256: Vidor wished to reclaim the “lost faith” that “America (and Hollywood) in the transcendent energy that had brought his heroes moral success...”The Fountainhead, Beyond the Forest and...Lightning Strikes Twice can each be seen as responses to Duel in the Sun...to show some constructive resolution...[and] despite some extremely violent sequences [Vidor] maintained his lifelong sympathy for Christian Science.” And: “In general, Vidor’s films are less concerned with right and wrong than with the harmony of soul and action...resilience is a better protection than strict justice, whose meticulous observance would destroy energy in everybody.”
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 267: “Vidor was under contractual constraint to follow the book.”
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 262: The Fountainhead is a “uniquely right-wing contribution” to the films of this period.
Stafford, TMC: “The Fountainhead, despite its shortcomings as a film adaptation of the book, remains a fascinating curiosity in the history of American film. Its righteous view of capitalism and morality place it firmly in the pantheon of right-wing conservative cinema And: “Ayn Rand's best-selling novel, The Fountainhead, which espoused her philosophy of Objectivism, a belief in the integrity of the individual and a general contempt for the mediocre standards accepted by the masses. And “The film version, based on Ayn Rand's screenplay of her novel, preserves her didactic dialogue while placing the main characters, essentially symbolic stand-ins for opposing ideologies.”
Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 259: “Rand’s own screen adaption was not merely explicit, but quite didactic.”
Shaw, 2013. “[M]ost mainstream Hollywood films that deal with politics have delivered a populist message. Not so with the film version of Ayn Rand’s hit novel The Fountainhead, which is a paean to radical individualism. Few films have ever so explicitly expressed a political ideology.”
Thomson, 2007: “A conventional script was written, but when it proved unsatisfactory, Rand took up the task for free - as long as no one messed with her dialogue.”
Callahan, 2007: “It’s filmed like a silent movie, and as Rand’s ludicrous dialogue keeps coming at you at an unmodulated volume, you start to wish that it was...the whole thing is a silly stacked deck filled with crude, vague ideas, and it cannot be said that Vidor entirely overcomes the problems of the source material.”
Shaw, 2013: “Rand ensured that this one would do so by negotiating an unprecedented clause in her screenplay contract that mirrored the demands of her protagonist, Howard Roark: she was guaranteed it would be filmed as she wrote it.”
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.”
Baxter, 1976 p. 72: Frank Llyod Wright
Shaw, 2013: “Rand was convinced that the New Deal had undermined the unique nature of American democracy, and The Fountainhead was an attempt to restore it to its former glory.”
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 258: “...the novel’s rage seems directed at the New Deal...”
- Stafford, TMC: The Fountainhead's “large, artificial sets designed by Edward Carrere who was heavily influenced by German Expressionism.”
Simmons, 1988: “Vidor pulled out all the stops for his stylized adaptation of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, the doggedly epic apotheosis of her theories of socially beneficial selfishness.”
Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 259: “The Fountainhead forges a new language, borrowing film noir’s angles and darkness, its paranoia, its focus on a beleaguered or tormented individual.”
Baxter, 1976 p. 72: “In The Fountainhead...New York Skyscrapers are the real focus, rather than the character of Howard Roark (Gary Cooper), the uncompromising architect who destroys his work rather see its purity impaired.” And p. 71: “...the central impression of The Fountainhead is one of stylization...” And p.73: “The Fountainhead’s most remarkable quality is the stylization at which Vidor so accurately aimed.”
Callahan, 2007: The Fountainhead’s “enormous, arid set design, its obsession with an individual’s rights and its erotic suggestiveness, The Fountainhead is a film that exemplifies Vidor’s ‘mind over matter’outlook perfectly.”
Gustafsson 2016: “The Fountainhead", which is all décor and design and has a graphic look that sometimes makes it feel like a painting by Kazimir Malevich.”
Thomson, 2007: “Vidor could see that she and Cooper were falling madly in love and was able to capture their chemistry on screen.”
Callahan, 2007: “The two actors [Cooper and Neal] fell in love during the shooting, which comes across on screen.”
Baxter, 1976 p. 72-73: On Cooper and Neal affair, influence on film.
Simmons, 1988: “What propels the film is Vidor's rapid staging and Robert Burks' noir cinematography...Visually at least, it's easy to glimpse expressionist echoes of the director of The Crowd. For all The Fountainhead's thoroughly deranged sexual politics, it refreshingly avoids Hollywood timidity. It's an oddball movie, no doubt, but with the strength of its convictions: the triumph of "the supreme egoist."
- Thomson, 2007: “The movie was released in June 1949, and it was another hit for Vidor, but it was not reviewed kindly.”
- Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 236: “The relatively happy production experience led him to sign a two picture contract with Warners.” And: Beyond the Forest “came with a star set...”
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 271 And p. 308: Durgnat considers Beyond the Forest and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary “approximate pairs” in theme.
Melville, 2013: “hailed by Bad Movie Aficionados as “arguably the definitive high camp” picture. And: “...mimicked to death by three generations of drag queens – has reduced a complex and fascinating film to the status of a camp joke.”
Greven, 2011: “King Vidor’s 1949 film Beyond the Forest is, for many, a film chiefly notable for having provided the inspiration for a famous moment in Edward Albee’s 1962 play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. “ And “...the film’s aesthetic, feminist, and queer worth [contradict] conventional dismissals of it, dismissals that...are the core logic within its designation as a Camp classic.”
Levy, 2005: ”’What a dump’ she exclaims...making this line immortal as high camp.”
Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 269-270: Edward Albee use of “What a Dump! And p. 278: “...the film touches on film noir expressionism...”
- Thomson, 2007: “Vidor and the actress did not get on well, but the lyrical melodrama and mix of ugliness and passion in Davis' character, a Midwest Emma Bovary, is more impressive than the film's reputation suggests.”
Callahan, 2007: “...certainly the best-directed Bette Davis movie and still in need of extensive retrospective rehabilitation.”
Hampton, 2013: “She never gave a shriller, more unmodulated performance, though maybe that’s the wrong word: hating the role with every fiber of her being, her performance feels more like an act of resistance than a piece of acting."
Melville, 2013: “Given the tensions between the star and her role, it makes sense that Vidor should focus the film on Rosa’s own problematic self-image. Throughout his career, Vidor showed a fondness for “wild” women, who might give themselves sexually or emotionally – but would never submit to a male-dominated society, or play the game by male rules.”
Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 236: “...the film was her last with the studio, for whom she had worked for seventeen years...”
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 278: “worst” of his career.
Levy, 2005: “She is presented as an enigma, a mystery that needs to be resolved. Rosa not only acts callous, she also looks mean. Wearing a wig of long black hair, Bette Davis is heavily made up, looking like a grotesque caricature."
Callahan, 2007: “Beyond the Forest (1949) is certainly the most unheralded of Vidor’s major films, mainly because everyone involved with it, especially its vitriolic star, Bette Davis, kept badmouthing it for years.“
Greven, 2011: “A scandalous box-office and critical failure,”
Hampton, 2013: “In France, the film appeared under the title La Garce (The Bitch).”
- Levy 2005: “Beyond the Forest contrasts Loyalton with Chicago. Whenever Rosa goes to–or thinks of–Chicago, the soundtrack plays a nightmarish version of “Chicago, Chicago” (which Judy Garland made popular). ...Max Steiner’s melodramatic score was nominated for an Oscar”. And “...Rosa is obsessive about moving to Chicago.”
Arroyo, 2016: “ [Rosa] desperate to get out of that one-horse town and into the nearest big city – Chicago – for the sophistication and excitement she craves.”
Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 273: “...nightmarish Bernard Herrmann style...”
Levy, 2005: Film score nomination for Steiner.
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 279: Vidor’s “fullest attempt at film noir ‘turned out terribly’ owing in part to casting problems...” See notes on quote with Higham in a 1969 interview with Vidor And: Vidor’s “common success in exploring sexual tension…” And p. 280: “...sexual tensions...turn into the film’s theme…”
Baxter, 1976 p. 76-77: “...hardly recognizable as a Vidor film except in its desert setting and its bizarre central situation...[resembling] traditional Warner’s melodramas…”
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 281
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 281: See other film titles offered here in that period.
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 284-285
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 281: The film “hides any depth of commitment behind...B film setups…” And p. 284: “The visual style argues that Japanese War Bride remained an impersonal production for Vidor.” And: “he establishes the documentary community...lettuce field-hands...packing plant…Cannery Row.”
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 281: Vidor’s eye was on Ruby Gentry...”
Baxter, 1976 p. 78: “...the wild and remarkable Ruby Gentry, Vidor’s last great film.”
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 286: See here thumbnail sketch of the story compared to Duel in the Sun.
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 294: “Disliked by most ‘serious’ critics in the United States, Ruby Gentry won some respect from English critics“ And "Hollywoodwise [Ruby Gentry] was something of an anomaly, with major stars in such a low-budget, violently personal film.
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 295: “...Vidor has called Ruby Gentry one of his favorite works…” And: “In its anguished lyricism, Ruby Gentry marks the end of the line for the phase that began back in Duel in the Sun. The reasons for this sudden finale...are no doubt a mix of personal and professional...[in] any case, he would never again have such control over a studio production.”
Baxter, 1976 p. 78: “...the wild and remarkable Ruby Gentry, Vidor’s last great film.”
- Baxter, 1976 p. 79
- Baxter, 1976 p. 4, p. 79-80
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p.235-36 And p 358: TV networks included CBS, NBC, ABC and DuMont.
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 254
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 30, p. 236-237, p. 315-316
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 295-296: “...Hollywood’s collective iconography...and the barbed=wire theme…” And “...barbed-wire was the symbolic center of freedom’s restraints and [on the other hand] the ruthless plundering of nature.”
- Baxter, 1976 p. 80
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 298: “...Vidor strove to establish a wider theme of land as a heritage deserving conservation…” And p. 299: “...it anticipates the conservationist concerns of the next generation.” And “...a reverent sense of property and ecology.”
- Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 297: “One must include the saloon sequence as one of the most dazzling” of both Douglas and Vidor. And Borden Chase quote.
Baxter, 1976 p. 80: “...Douglas’ charmingly lecherous performance…”
- Baxter, 1976 p. 80: “a minor work...”
Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 299: “The film indicates, without exploring, a transition between Vidor’s critical [analysis] of contemporary America and his more affirmative pair of costume epics...Vidor’s interests seemed to have moved on from America...American had become as constricted as the Old World had been.” And p.320: “Vidor’s last commercial films - Man Without a Star, War and Peace and Solomon and Sheba - celebrate heroes who, though deeply tainted by their societies, achieve a private integrity.”
Durgnat and Simmon, 1988 p. 8 And p. “One might surmise that Vidor’s recent failures...to find producers for his more personal projects engendered a certain defeatism, rendering him not unopposed to costume epics...” And p. 260: Vidor: “War and Peace...came to me through an agent, and I did not set out to do [it] as a personal project...”
- 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.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to King Vidor.|
- King Vidor on IMDb
- King Wallis Vidor from the Handbook of Texas Online
- King Vidor: The Editor's Director, Peter Tonguette, Senses of Cinema 59
- King Vidor at Virtual History
- Finding aid author: Register of Papers (2014). "King Vidor papers". Prepared for the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Provo, UT. Retrieved May 16, 2016.