A Unique Look at a Unique Man
Geoffrey Kleinman | Portland, OR USA | 10/12/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After watching Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, I was still really in a documentary mood, so I decided to check out Goldwyn - The Man and His Movies, another documentary about someone I was familiar with, but didn't really know a lot about. With Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, the documentary focuses on a man really loved and respected by many people. Throughout the documentary, there are people who talk about the fact that Hank was their hero, their role model. Goldwyn - The Man and His Movies is a little different: almost everyone interviewed about Samuel Goldwyn mentioned at least once the fact they couldn't stand working with the often abusive and caustic Goldwyn. Loved or hated, Goldwyn was certainly a Hollywood luminary who went to amazing lengths to insure that he had the final word on what went up on the screen. Considered by most to be a phenomenal success, Goldwyn always seemed to be fighting an uphill battle against insurmountable odds. A true film genius who is known for the mantra "make less films, make better films", Goldwyn always seemed to be at war with everything around him, while constantly doing what he could to 'fit in'. What I really liked about Goldwyn - The Man and His Movies was the deep sense of irony in the story of Samuel Goldwyn and how his triumphs seemed to be worse for him than his tragedies. Goldwyn - The Man and His Movies does a great job of brining together the many people touched by Samuel Goldwyn to present a unique look at one of Hollywood's most interesting moguls. [Geoffrey Kleinman, DVDTalk.com]"
Just fine, except for two unpardonable errors
albertatamazon | East Point, Georgia USA | 10/11/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I caught part of this program when it aired on PBS locally Sunday night, and I caught the rest last night on its second airing. On nearly all counts, it is a fine program, featuring not only clips from all of Goldwyn's famous films (including the long unseen 1959 "Porgy and Bess"), but interviews from many departed screen stars such as Bette Davis, Dana Andrews, and Laurence Olivier, all shown, thankfully, not at the end of their careers and in failing health, but in interviews made as long as twenty years ago. The funniest clip is a display of Olivier's towering acting skills when he imitates Goldwyn's voice as he reacted to Olivier's appearance during the filming of the 1939 "Wuthering Heights", one of the screen's greatest classics. Family members are also interviewed, giving sometimes poignant insights into Goldwyn's relationships with people.
However, this film does feature two howling errors which could easily have been avoided by more careful research. A. Scott Berg, author of the biography on which this documentary is based, is also responsible for the script here, and is featured heavily in interviews, so it is difficult to understand how on earth he could have missed these errors, but during the "Porgy and Bess" segment, we hear the narrator baldly stating that Goldwyn had loved it ever since he had seen it onstage in 1932, and that the 1959 film won three Academy Awards. In fact, "Porgy and Bess" opened on Broadway on October 10, 1935, and the 1959 film won only one Academy Award (for Best Adaptation of Score). In addition, it actually LOST three Academy Awards-- to the year's blockbuster, "Ben-Hur".
I watched this segment twice in two days to make sure my ears were not playing tricks on me, and sure enough, the errors were there. The "American Masters" TV series usually produces completely accurate programs, but this time someone was asleep at the wheel when it came to proofreading the script or doing the research."
They told Sam it's too caustic? The heck with the costs, Sam
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 01/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Goldwyn-The Man And His Movies tells the incredible, true story of Samuel Goldwyn who worked his way out of a destitute ghetto in Poland, make his way to America, and become a self-made Hollywood mogul. The documentary takes a good look at both the good and the bad qualities of Goldwyn; and there is much archive footage here along with more recent interview clips with the people who worked closely with Sam Goldwyn.
Sam Goldwyn, born Schmuel Goldfish in Poland, walked to the western European coast and got on board a ship to America when steerage was fifteen dollars. He worked briefly in other fields; but naturally this film focuses on Sam Goldwyn's career in Hollywood. It didn't come easy: We learn of his arch rivalry with Louis B. Mayer and we see just how difficult it really was for Goldwyn to win an Oscar because he wound up being an independent producer. Of course, some people interviewed in this picture indicate without hesitation that Goldwyn was a "warlord" and many go on and on about his terrible temper. Nevertheless, as another reviewer notes, nobody who worked with Goldwyn seemed to regret it. Goldwyn produced pictures of very high quality; although of course we see some of his mistakes. Instead of making Goldwyn a lesser man, Goldwyn's mistakes merely prove his humanity.
The documentary also provides us with interesting clips of some of the very best moments from many of Goldwyn's best films. We get a few clips from Wuthering Heights; and the clips from The Best Years Of Our Lives, the only film that ever earned Goldwyn himself an Oscar, are outstanding. We learn how Goldwyn was able to come back despite failures; he was a clever albeit neurotic man who knew how to reinvent himself as time passed.
The DVD is short on extras but we do get a filmography for Goldwyn; and if you want to use it there is a scene selection feature as well.
It may seem as if I've given it all away but I really haven't. You'll see when you watch this film.
Overall, I highly recommend this documentary for film students, people who enjoy the history of how movies were made by an independent producer in the golden era of Hollywood, and people who enjoy the arts in general may well like this picture. I think Goldwyn-The Man And His Movies was very well made; and I certainly hope that they bring this back into print soon!