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Scott_Eyman
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Postby Scott_Eyman » October 15th, 2007, 2:05 pm

Hello Mr. Eyman -
I'm curious about the darker issues surrounding the relationship between Louis B. Mayer and Dore Schary. I realize that the "older man / younger man" subtext probably played a part, but were there deeper, more personal matters involved between the two men once Schary became involved with MGM?
Thanks very much!

I'm not exactly sure what you might be referring to, but it seems to me that between the older man/younger man, conservative/liberal, dream factory/realistic dichotomies, there were quite enough areas of contention to submarine any kind of continuing working relationship. Although, to be fair to Schary, I believe anybody brought in to run production at MGM would have been met with exactly the same ultimate response from Mayer.

S.E.

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Scott_Eyman
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Postby Scott_Eyman » October 15th, 2007, 2:13 pm

I'm a big Ernst Lubitsch fan and enjoyed your commentary on the "Trouble in Paradise" dvd and your biography of him, Laughter in Paradise.

Since Lubitsch's films were concerned, in a very sophisticated way, with sex and money, as well as the numerous masks that people try to wear in public and private, do you think that the reason that most of his films were set in Europe was to avoid confronting America's puritanical self-image?

Do you think that one the few movies to show Lubitsch's chosen country, "Heaven Can Wait", was affected by the fact that it was set in an American milieu?

Thanks.

I think it's easier for an American audience to accept the Continental attitude if the story takes place on the Continent. It's simply less threatening. So I guess the answer would be yes. Heaven Can Wait is something of an experimental movie - Lubitsch's first in color, strange casting that pays off, a vague, picaresque structure, and, if you think about it, a very daring central conceit: a story about a serial adulterer who realizes that he loves his wife.
Which was part of what drove Sam Raphaelson wild: Is our main character sleeping with all these women or isn't he? As far as the Breen office was concerned, Lubitsch and Raphaelson had to leave just enough wiggle room to allow for the possibility that all that was going on was heavy flirting. Although everybody that knew Lubitsch knew what he really meant.

S.E.

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Postby Bogie » October 15th, 2007, 2:15 pm

Hello Mr. Eyman

I haven't gotten a chance to read any of your books so forgive me if this question is silly or anything. I'm interested in MGM and Meyer so I looked at the Wikipedia entry on him (which I know can be fraught with errors) Anyways I noticed that Meyer and Schary had their problems and it got to the point where Meyer laid down an ultimatum to Loews which subsequently got him fired. Apparently Meyer tried some board room shenanigans that didn't work out. Could you give some insight and further information regarding that?

Also was the decline of MGM before Schary's entry totally Meyer's fault? Was Meyer too stubborn change with the times or did he try anything to get MGM back on track?

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Postby Mr. Arkadin » October 15th, 2007, 3:09 pm

Hi Mr. Eyman,

I noticed you had written a book on Bergman. I'm curious to know your thoughts on the Rossellini films, especially Europa 51 (1952) and Voyage to Italy (1953). Where would you rate these two in the scope of the rest of her work?
Last edited by Mr. Arkadin on October 15th, 2007, 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby ken123 » October 15th, 2007, 3:19 pm

Hello Mr. Eyman,
Could you please discuss the politics of Mr. Ford's films, and the run - ins that may have occurred with the studio head, say Mr. Zanuck on The Grapes of Wrath, and the removal of the lynching in Judge Priest, and one more if you please, Mr. Ford's attitude in regard to the blacklist. THANK YOU.

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Postby movieman1957 » October 15th, 2007, 6:09 pm

Mr. Eyman:

My compliments to you on the "My Darling Clementine" DVD. It was exactly the thing I would have like to have done by showing two different versions of the movie.

Your commentary was well done and immensely informative right down to your explaining the camera angles.

A question about "Clementine's" ending. Given all the versions and history we have is there a reason Ford chose to have Holiday die in the fight other than making the ending more dramatic?
Last edited by movieman1957 on October 16th, 2007, 9:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lzcutter » October 15th, 2007, 7:51 pm

Mr Eyman,

Thanks so much for joining us this week!

With the new box set of Ford's Fox films coming this December and TCM running The Iron Horse, I was wondering if you could talk a bit about the making of the film and how it influenced the westerns that came after it.

Thank you,
Lynn in Lake Balboa

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Postby Sue Sue Applegate » October 15th, 2007, 9:24 pm

Dear Mr. Eyman,

We are so privileged to have you share your expertise with us on Silver Screen Oasis. Thank you for this wonderful visit.

I am intrigued by Lynn's question concerning the making of The Iron Horse and its influence on the westerns that followed, and I hope you won't mind an additional "Pappy" request.

Since I am always interested in the creative process, I would like to know your opinion on how you believe Ford's demons fueled his genius in respect to his directorial choices as they might relate to a particular script, setting, or an individual actor or actress.
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Postby SSO Admins » October 16th, 2007, 6:18 am

filmfriend wrote:I would agree that Pickford and Ford worked hard to conceal their true nature, especially Ford. Mayer not so much - he was just constantly shifting emotional tactics to get what he wanted in a given circumstance. And Lubitsch - I know, I know, you haven't read it - wasn't like that at all. He was the same man all the time, at home or at the studio.
I don't think alternate, or shifting personalities is at all uncommon. There are a lot of people who present different faces at work than they do at home. As far as discerning which is the true personality, that's where multiple points of view are so helpful. In othger words, not just interviews, but correspondence. Ploughing through Pickford's business correspondence at the Wisconsin Historical Society gave me a personality that she hid from view as much as she hid her drinking from view.


I suppose that I read that Mayer was using his shifting emotional tactics as an alternate means of acheiving what Ford accomplished with his recalcitrance -- a way of keeping anyone from getting truly close to him. That may not be supported by the text, but it was the impression that I had.

Pickford's bio held the most surprises for me. She was a very different person in her later years than I had supposed, and you are to be congratulated for painting as complete a picture as possible of this complex and in many ways not particularly likeable woman.

Which leads to my next question. In immersing yourself in the life of a subject in a biography, how surprised are you by the personality you uncover, and how have your feelings towards your subjects changed during the process?

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Postby moira finnie » October 16th, 2007, 9:05 am

Good Morning, Mr. E. Thanks very much for all your generous answers to our questions.

In your book "The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution" you mention that there was some disagreement among those who were there when The Jazz Singer was made regarding Al Jolson's ad libbing of the spoken dialogue. In your opinion, did you think it was scripted?

Also, given the fact that we have a plethora of movies on TCM this evening from the dawn of sound, could you please comment on what we might look for in these films? Here's a brief rundown of the movies that have been included in their schedule tonight:

8:00 PM The Jazz Singer (1927)
Cast: Al Jolson, May McAvoy, Warner Oland.

9:45 PM Vitaphone Shorts (2007)
C-57 mins, , CC

10:45 PM Don Juan (1926)
Cast: John Barrymore, Mary Astor, Warner Oland.

12:45 AM The Better 'Ole (1926)
Cast: Sydney Chaplin, Doris Hill, Harold Goodwin. Dir: Charles Reisner.

2:30 AM When a Man Loves (1927)
Cast: John Barrymore, Dolores Costello, Warner Oland. Dir: Alan Crosland.

4:30 AM The Jazz Singer (1927) (repeated again)

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Scott_Eyman
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Postby Scott_Eyman » October 16th, 2007, 9:17 am

Hi Mr. Eyman,

I noticed you had written a book on Bergman. I'm curious to know your thoughts on the Rossellini films, especially Europa 51 (1952) and Voyage to Italy (1953). Where would you rate these two in the scope of the rest of her work?

I like the Rossellini films a great deal although they obviously fall between two stools - far too arty for people who the people who loved Ingrid Bergman, while auteurists thought Rossellini was prostituting his austere vision by using a movie star. In retrospect, you can see how she kept trying to turn that artistic trick for the rest of her life. Movies like The Visit, etc., forbidding European art movies that happened to feature a great movie star. It was only at the very end of her life, with Autumn Sonata, that the mix was right, and it took Ingmar Bergman to pull it off.
S.E.

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Postby Scott_Eyman » October 16th, 2007, 9:32 am

]Good Morning, Mr. E. Thanks very much for all your generous answers to our questions.

In your book "The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution" you mention that there was some disagreement among those who were there when The Jazz Singer was made regarding Al Jolson's ad libbing of the spoken dialogue. In your opinion, did you think it was scripted?

Also, given the fact that we have a plethora of movies on TCM this evening from the dawn of sound, could you please comment on what we might look for in these films? Here's a brief rundown of the movies that have been included in their schedule tonight:

8:00 PM The Jazz Singer (1927)
Cast: Al Jolson, May McAvoy, Warner Oland.

9:45 PM Vitaphone Shorts (2007)
C-57 mins, , CC

10:45 PM Don Juan (1926)
Cast: John Barrymore, Mary Astor, Warner Oland.

12:45 AM The Better 'Ole (1926)
Cast: Sydney Chaplin, Doris Hill, Harold Goodwin. Dir: Charles Reisner.

2:30 AM When a Man Loves (1927)
Cast: John Barrymore, Dolores Costello, Warner Oland. Dir: Alan Crosland.

4:30 AM The Jazz Singer (1927) (repeated again)


I think he was adlibbing, simply because the other actor, Eugenie Besserer, playing Jolson's mother, seems totally at sea. She has a glazed look on her fact, and just keeps muttering "Oh, really?" while Jolson babbles on. If it had been scripted, they would have given her some lines, or included her in some way.
The films on TCM tonight are all worth seeing in varying degrees. The Vitaphone shorts are all prime stuff, as is The Jazz Singer. The two Barrymore's are silent swashbucklers with musical scores, and your tolerance for them depends on how much you want to see Barrymore imitating Doug Fairbanks. The Better 'Ole has its charms - the only thing wrong with Syd Chaplin was that he had talent, and his brother had genius - but it seems to last too long. Again, it's a silent with a score, and one spoken word, which seems to have been spoken during he orchestra recording.

S.E.

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Scott_Eyman
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Postby Scott_Eyman » October 16th, 2007, 9:43 am

I would agree that Pickford and Ford worked hard to conceal their true nature, especially Ford. Mayer not so much - he was just constantly shifting emotional tactics to get what he wanted in a given circumstance. And Lubitsch - I know, I know, you haven't read it - wasn't like that at all. He was the same man all the time, at home or at the studio.
I don't think alternate, or shifting personalities is at all uncommon. There are a lot of people who present different faces at work than they do at home. As far as discerning which is the true personality, that's where multiple points of view are so helpful. In othger words, not just interviews, but correspondence. Ploughing through Pickford's business correspondence at the Wisconsin Historical Society gave me a personality that she hid from view as much as she hid her drinking from view.[/quote]

I suppose that I read that Mayer was using his shifting emotional tactics as an alternate means of acheiving what Ford accomplished with his recalcitrance -- a way of keeping anyone from getting truly close to him. That may not be supported by the text, but it was the impression that I had.

Pickford's bio held the most surprises for me. She was a very different person in her later years than I had supposed, and you are to be congratulated for painting as complete a picture as possible of this complex and in many ways not particularly likeable woman.

Which leads to my next question. In immersing yourself in the life of a subject in a biography, how surprised are you by the personality you uncover, and how have your feelings towards your subjects changed during the process?

Interesting question. You're never sure where you're going to be led. The biography I most enjoyed writing was Lubitsch, because he was a predominantly happy, content man who was successful in the business he loved. He didn't operate out of grudges or childhood loss, as so many creative people do. He liked people, people liked him, so it was a pleasure to talk to the people who remembered and loved him. He was a lot like his work.
The most difficult subject was Ford. I'd always loved his films - still do - but the alcoholism and black Irish sensibility were very hard to live with for the nearly six years I spent on the book, and I had to be careful not to let the grinding down I was feeling show in the book. In contrast to Lubitsch, Ford's films were the best part of him.
That's the thing - if you're writing a biography, you're inviting someone into your life for the foreseeable future, and not every prospective roommate works out.

S.E.

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Postby pilgrimsoul » October 16th, 2007, 9:46 am

Hi Mr. Eyman. I have several questions, if that's okay:

Now that so many of the primary sources for your books have passed away, do you find that interviews on film or tape or in transcripts have affected your choice of future projects?
**************
Have you met any obscure individuals in your research for any of your books whose memories seemed to deserve a book of their own?
**************
Will more Lubitsch films ever become available on dvd? Why are so few seen on broadcast tv?
**************
What is your opinion of the seldom seen serious Lubitsch film, Broken Lullaby (1932)?

Thank you.

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Scott_Eyman
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Postby Scott_Eyman » October 16th, 2007, 9:56 am

Dear Mr. Eyman,

We are so privileged to have you share your expertise with us on Silver Screen Oasis. Thank you for this wonderful visit.

I am intrigued by Lynn's question concerning the making of The Iron Horse and its influence on the westerns that followed, and I hope you won't mind an additional "Pappy" request.

Since I am always interested in the creative process, I would like to know your opinion on how you believe Ford's demons fueled his genius in respect to his directorial choices as they might relate to a particular script, setting, or an individual actor or actress.

Another interesting question. I think Ford used moviemaking as a sort of self-medication, to keep as close to level as was possible for him. He rarely fell apart and went off on a drunk when he was working. He surrounded himself with people he felt comfortable with, mostly people who would defer to him - as most people do with movie directors, especially movie directors with a touchy temper.
I actually don't think his alcoholism was much of a factor in his art, except for the affectionate, raffish way he portrayed alcoholics - Thomas Mitchell in Stagecoach, etc. - which is more or less typically Irish.
I think moviemaking enabled him to keep the alcoholism in the closet more effectively than any other art would have because moviemaking is social - you're with a group of people, often in the open air, in a reasonably healthy and quite hardworking environment. In other words, there's an enforced discipline. Ford could have been a painter, I think - his drawings show talent, and of course he had an extraordinary eye - but he could never have handled the isolation of being a painter.

S.E.


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