Synopses & Reviews
The full-length, definitive biography of the legendary director of Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz.
Victor Fleming was the most sought-after director in Hollywoods golden age, renowned for his ability to make films across an astounding range of genres-westerns, earthy sexual dramas, family entertainment, screwball comedies, buddy pictures, romances, and adventures. Fleming is remembered for the two most iconic movies of the period, Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, but the more than forty films he directed also included classics like Red Dust, Test Pilot, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Captains Courageous. Paradoxically, his talent for knowing how to make the necessary film at the right time, rather than remaking the same movie in different guises, has resulted in Victor Flemings relative obscurity in our time.
Michael Sragow restores the director to the pantheon of our greatest filmmakers and fills a gaping hole in Hollywood history with this vibrant portrait of a man at the center of the most exciting era in American filmmaking. The actors Fleming directed wanted to be him (Fleming created enduring screen personas for Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and Gary Cooper), and his actresses wanted to be with him (Ingrid Bergman, Clara Bow, and Norma Shearer were among his many lovers).
Victor Fleming not only places the director back in the spotlight, but also gives us the story of a man whose extraordinary personal style was as thrilling, varied, and passionate as the stories he brought to the screen.
"Fleming, who directed most of The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, and all of The Virginian and Bombshell, was not just a consummate studio craftsman but a distinctive artist, contends this rapt biography. Film critic Sragow has a tough case to make. Fleming's varied oeuvre suggests no signature onscreen style; instead, Sragow celebrates his feel for action and fantasy, and his intuitive way of directing actors. He also credits Fleming with inventing the Hollywood masculinity embodied by screen idols like Gary Cooper, Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable. Fleming, a big-game hunter and a polished bon vivant known for bedding his female stars, was both 'a man's man and a ladies' man,' Sragow writes, who made male characters correspondingly tough but chivalrous (though offscreen Fleming wasn't above twisting Lana Turner's arm or slapping Ingrid Bergman to draw on-camera tears). Sragow's intricate, engrossing accounts of the making of Fleming's films convey his on-set charisma (and form a fine montage of Hollywood's evolution), but the real auteur is the studio system itself and its well-honed myth-making machinery (Fleming's last movie, Joan of Arc, an independent production, was a fiasco). Sragow's Fleming is a man who personified Old Hollywood, but didn't transcend it. Photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The definitive, full-length biography of the legendary director of "Gone with the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz, Victor Fleming" places the director back in the spotlight, and also offers a vivid portrait of one of the most exciting eras in filmmaking.
About the Author
Michael Sragow is the movie critic for The Baltimore Sun, and contributes regularly to The New Yorker. He has also written for Salon, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone, among many publications. He edited the Library of Americas two volumes of James Agees work, as well as Produced and Abandoned: The National Society of Film Critics Write on the Best Films Youve Never Seen. He lives with his wife, Glenda Hobbs, in Baltimore.