When American director Sam Wood (1883-1949) first reported to Cecil B. De Mille as an assistant in 1915, Wood had already dabbled in real estate and acted on-stage under the name of Chad Applegate. A solo director by 1919, Wood worked throughout the ‘20s directing some of Paramount’s biggest stars, among them Gloria Swanson and Wallace Reid. He began his long association with MGM in 1927, working with personalities as varied as Marion Davies, Clark Gable, Marie Dressler, and Jimmy Durante. He guided the Marx Brothers through their two most profitable films, A Night at the Opera (1935) and A Day at the Races (1937), and turned out one of the most accomplished sentimental dramas ever made in Hollywood, Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939). Hopping from studio to studio in the ‘40s, Wood directed Ginger Rogers through her Oscar-winning performance in Kitty Foyle (1940), successfully transferred Thornton Wilder’s highly theatrical Our Town (1940) to the screen (even the studio-imposed happy ending… read more
Sidney Franklin was a Hollywood director, producer, screenwriter and actor who became one of MGM’s top directors and producers. At age 20, Franklin got his start in the industry as an assistant cameraman and eventually he and his brother, Chester M. Franklin, co-directed a number of comedy shorts and features for children, including “Gretchen the Greenhorn” (1916) with Dorothy Gish. He went to work at MGM in 1926 and directed and produced a number of sophisticated comedies and dramas. He had a close relationship with Irving Thalberg, the studio’s “Boy Wonder” production executive, and directed Thalberg’s wife, Norma Shearer, in several films, including “The Actress” (1928), “Smilin’ Through” (1932) and “The Barretts of Wimpole Street” (1934). He also directed Greta Garbo in “Wild Orchids” (1929) and guided Luise Rainer to an Academy Award in “The Good Earth” (1937), for which he earned an Oscar nomination. He left directing after completing “The Good Earth” and went on to produce some… read more
A grand piece of Hollywood moviemaking, impeccable in every way, with a splendid performance from the underrated Robert Donat.