Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Biography - Louis B Mayer |
A&E DVD Archives
Actor: Louis B. Mayer
Genres: Television, Documentary
The movie mogul Louis B. Mayer emigrated as a child with his parents from Russia. He began his road to success when he purchased a house, refurbished it as a nickelodeon, and opened one of the earliest custom-designed cine... more »
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"L. B." himself was the best actor on the MGM lot--if only t
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 02/22/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The A&E Biography on the life and times of Louis B. Mayer gives us lots to know about this man. If only they hadn't rushed through it all and included so much more! No, this isn't the perfect biography of Louis B. Mayer; it couldn't have been at only 50 minutes. However, it does give you a basic understanding of what Mayer was about and what him tick; and we do get the highlights of his career and personal life. This DVD is more for the casual movie going fan who wants a brief introduction to the man who created so much of that Hollywood glamour, magic and even the Oscars. The narration is well done. In addition, we get interviews with Mayer biographers and Mayer's grandson himself appears in this video.
We learn that life for L.B. Mayer wasn't easy--and it certainly wasn't anything like "The Dream Factory" of MGM Studios. Louis B. Mayer was born in Russia, changed his name when he went with his family to Canada and then moved to the USA to pursue his dream of striking it big in the new world. Mayer wasn't always lucky in the beginning; but when he secured the distributions rights to The Birth Of A Nation in some parts of the country things began to take off for him. Mayer also married and he went to California to head Metro Studios which subsequently merged with Goldwyn Studios to become a large subsidiary of Loews.
One thing I do like about this mini documentary is that we get a very good sense of how Mayer related to the stars at MGM--he could take regular people practically off the street and sell them as stars--he was THAT good at selling! He became very powerful by exploiting the emotional vulnerabilities of his stars and he often had his men cover up extramarital affairs and other "indecent" scandals to make MGM retain a fantasy world type of aura that the public found enchanting. He had the ear of Herbert Hoover to make things go his way politically and that was incredible power in addition to his salary which made him the highest paid executive in America at the time. However, things still weren't completely perfect: Mayer had troubles with Irving Thalberg at MGM and he didn't get along well with Loews's successor Nicholas Schenck. Of course, after World War II things changed and Mayer was eventually pushed out by younger men including Dore Schary. The documentary then explores Mayer's life after MGM Studios.
In the end, Louis B. Mayer may have been ruthless at times; but he did make significant contributions to the film industry as he pushed his stars, directors and indeed all of the MGM crew to make the best "wholesome" pictures possible. After all, that's what the public primarily wanted before the end of World War II. The documentary also shows us many clips of some of the best MGM films ever made starting with the chariot race scene in the 1924-1925 production of Ben-Hur.
I wish that there had been extras on this DVD; and the all-too-short 50 minute time span leaves too much of his life glossed over or simplified to the point of being misrepresented. That's a disappointment.
If you are just getting into this topic and you like this documentary I would suggest other documentaries and books about film moguls and the Hollywood "studio system" in general. Unfortunately, however, diehard fans of Hollywood history will be dissatisfied.
One of Hollywood's founders.
Rodney Houghton | Melbourne Australia | 06/26/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Here was a man who knew and understood just what people wanted to seee on the screen. They wanted to be taken from the problems of their lives and lifted into another world. A world of fantasy and make believe where the guy always gets the girl and the good guy always wins. He was also a hard businessman but pretended not to be. Perhaps one of the saddest things in his life was that he didn't stand up to the "anti communist purges" and support people like the those who were blacklisted just because they might not have agreed with the main line politics of the time, or who were perhaps just searching. He will always remain one of the most important founders of the Hollywood studio system."