How much did you know about our Quiz subjection, King Vidor?
Did you know that perhaps his most commercially recognized film — 1946’s Duel in the Sun — was a personal nightmare for the director during its making?
The movie today is acclaimed for among other things, the smoldering performance of Jennifer Jones as sultry, half-breed beauty Pearl Chavez, who is pursued by two men (Joseph Cotten, the good guy) and Gregory Peck (of all actors as the bad guy).
Jones is convincing in the part. She was also at the time the protege/mistress of David O. Selznick, a powerful producer who, obsessed with Jones, believed in big-time meddling on her behalf. (The two began their 16-year marriage in 1949.)
Selznick’s buttinsky tactics drove Vidor nuts, and many on set arguments between the two ensued. Vidor ultimately quit before production completed; although Duel is today credited to him, and is regarded as certainly his picture, it’s not clear how much Selznick creatively shaped the final product.
British critic David Thomson heralds the film because epic and feminine psychology were superbly combined…Selznick’s contribution cannot be denied, but there is no reason to attribute the power of the image to anyone other than Vidor.
Ok, on the answers to our Quiz:
1) Question: Which of the following stars did NOT receive a career boost from appearing in a Vidor picture? a) John Gilbert; b) Spencer Tracy; c) Gary Cooper; or d) Marion Davies.
Answer: d) Davies, a delightful light comedienne, mistress of William Randolph Hearst. She stars in Vidor’s 1928 vehicle, The Patsy. It was a routine assignment, and did not propel her career in any appreciable way. Gilbert was made a star with 1925’s The Big Parade. Tracy shone in 1940’s Northwest Passage. And Cooper dominates 1949’s The Fountainhead.
2) Question: Uncredited, Vidor guest directed Judy Garland’s ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ scene in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. a) True; or b) False?
Answer: a) True.
3) Question: Vidor made his professional mark by directing MGM’s most profitable silent movie. Can you name it (it came out in 1925) and describe its general plot?
Answer: The picture is The Big Parade, a war-is-hell film made for about $385,000, and which garnered a profit of nearly $3.5 million. As mentioned above, it made a star of John Gilbert. This extraordinarily profitable movie didn’t make Vidor rich. Before production, he agreed to give up a nice slice of profits to get the relatively expensive picture made.
4) Question: Vidor pictures generated Oscar nominations for which of the following actors? a) Wallace Beery; b) Barbara Stanwyck; c) Robert Donat; or d) Miriam Hopkins.
Answer: All but d) Hopkins.
5) Question: Wallace Beery was the star of Vidor’s 1931 melodrama, The Champ, about a washed up boxer and his young offspring. Who played the part of Beery’s son? a) Mickey Rooney; b) Freddie Bartholomew; c) Macauley Culkin; or d) Jackie Cooper.
Answer: d) Cooper.