Sign in to follow this  
arpirose

COMPARE THE IRVING THALBERG MGM WITH THE POST THALBERG MGM

18 posts in this topic

There were several Thalberg MGM films shown yesterday such as DAVID COPPERFIELD, TALE OF TWO CITIES, ANNA KARENINA AND OTHERS.In my opinion, tragically, Cinema lost so much when Mr. Thalberg died. What is your take?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, arpirose said:

There were several Thalberg MGM films shown yesterday such as DAVID COPPERFIELD, TALE OF TWO CITIES, ANNA KARENINA AND OTHERS.In my opinion, tragically, Cinema lost so much when Mr. Thalberg died. What is your take?

I think these films are as good as they are because of David Selznick who produced them.

Selznick might have had a stronger track record than Thalberg.

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0006388/?ref_=nv_sr_2

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, arpirose said:

There were several Thalberg MGM films shown yesterday such as DAVID COPPERFIELD, TALE OF TWO CITIES, ANNA KARENINA AND OTHERS.In my opinion, tragically, Cinema lost so much when Mr. Thalberg died. What is your take?

I think Thalberg's sophistication in picking literate vehicles which could also be moneymakers, and his perfectionism in seldom sparing any expense that could improve a film, were essential characteristics of his psyche which brought classy movies, like those you mention to the screen and shot MGM to the top. Of course, as TB says, the other part of this success story was Mayer, who did add in different ways to the success that both shared, with other talents and skills.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, CaveGirl said:

I think Thalberg's sophistication in picking literate vehicles which could also be moneymakers, and his perfectionism in seldom sparing any expense that could improve a film, were essential characteristics of his psyche which brought classy movies, like those you mention to the screen and shot MGM to the top. Of course, as TB says, the other part of this success story was Mayer, who did add in different ways to the success that both shared, with other talents and skills.

I didn't mention Mayer. I mentioned Selznick. I think Mayer was too busy focusing on the Andy Hardy movies, the Lassie movies and the Jeannette MacDonald musicals, those things that helped present his idyllic view of life in America. Thalberg and Selznick were much more artistically-minded, especially Selznick.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

I didn't mention Mayer. I mentioned Selznick. I think Mayer was too busy focusing on the Andy Hardy movies, the Lassie movies and the Jeannette MacDonald musicals, those things that helped present his idyllic view of life in America. Thalberg and Selznick were much more artistically-minded, especially Selznick.

I meant the other TB, TB!

You know...Thomas Hart Benton who posts here infrequently.

  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, CaveGirl said:

I meant the other TB, TB!

You know...Thomas Hart Benton who posts here infrequently.

Okay. I don't like being misquoted. But if you were quoting Mr. Benton then there's no problem. LOL

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree Thalberg was irreplaceable.  I also agree Selznick was a amazing although in different ways. My one quibble with Thalberg is what he did with the Marx Brothers.  Their earlier stuff, closer to their vaudeville schtick and absolutely unhinged, is preferable to the elegance of A Night at the Opera and A Day at The Races.

I'll take Thalberg's version over nothing, but their earlier work was better.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My one quibble with Thalberg is what he did with the Marx Brothers.  Their earlier stuff, closer to their vaudeville schtick and absolutely unhinged, is preferable to the elegance of A Night at the Opera and A Day at The Races.

You are so right about the Marx Brothers.  Take DUCK SOUP FROM PARAMOUNT, it is their best film.  Nothing can compare to it.  It was one wild adventure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, TopBilled said:

Okay. I don't like being misquoted. But if you were quoting Mr. Benton then there's no problem. LOL

You were dead on with your Selznick theory, TB. Sorry my brain is atrophied and I typed in that you wrote "Mayer" instead. Mea culpa! I blame my problem on wood alchohol and sniffing too many moth balls.

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, CaveGirl said:

You were dead on with your Selznick theory, TB. Sorry my brain is atrophied and I typed in that you wrote "Mayer" instead. Mea culpa! I blame my problem on wood alchohol and sniffing too many moth balls.

No worries. As they say, all is forgiven! :) 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, TopBilled said:

I didn't mention Mayer. I mentioned Selznick. I think Mayer was too busy focusing on the Andy Hardy movies, the Lassie movies and the Jeannette MacDonald musicals, those things that helped present his idyllic view of life in America. Thalberg and Selznick were much more artistically-minded, especially Selznick.

I believe it was Mayer who picked Greta Garbo and she came to be their biggest star.

 The thing  about Mayer was that he was the executive who kept the talent in line. He dealt with them, disciplined them and praised them. He was the executive in charge and they never forgot it.

Mayer gave the public what they wanted and what they wanted coincided with his Viewpoint of how America should be idealized.

***

As far as Thalberg being artistically minded, he let that go when he was working FOR his wife Norma Shearer. He probably spent  50% of his time promoting Norma Shearer's career. His desire to do this big-budget Marie Antoinette movie had more to do with promoting her than his desire to Simply have this historically, culturally, artistic film about French history.

Thalberg's career at Universal had shown that he placed budgets and financial management ahead of Art.  Thalberg was the one who  who fired Cinematic Legend Erich von Stroheim for going over budget.

Then much to Von Stroheim's Chagrin, at Metro Thalberg came under control of the Director's Artistic Masterpiece "Greed" and cut it to shreds for Financial Conservatism. 

And worse than that, much of what was cut out--from what many consider to be one of the greatest American films ever made-- was simply lost or thrown away.

You could say that Thalberg had a serious bent for artistic production, if at the same time he would be making a big profit from it. 

Some of his best work was done with the Marx Brothers. That's the kind of executive he was - - he wanted to tightly control the budget for the highest return. The Marx Brothers movies were perfect for that-- artistic, esoteric, some classical music, but always hilarious and every class of Americans, on every level went crazy over them.

 

Thalberg was no Art For Art's Sake guy. He and he alone effectively ended Erich von Stroheim's career in Hollywood as a director.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Princess of Tap said:

I believe it was Mayer who picked Greta Garbo and she came to be their biggest star.

 The thing  about Mayer was that he was the executive who kept the talent in line. He dealt with them, disciplined them and praised them. He was the executive in charge and they never forgot it.

Mayer gave the public what they wanted and what they wanted coincided with his Viewpoint of how America should be idealized.

***

As far as Thalberg being artistically minded, he let that go when he was working FOR his wife Norma Shearer. He probably spent  50% of his time promoting Norma Shearer's career. His desire to do this big-budget Marie Antoinette movie had more to do with promoting her than his desire to Simply have this historically, culturally, artistic film about French history.

Thalberg's career at Universal had shown that he placed budgets and financial management ahead of Art.  Thalberg was the one who  who fired Cinematic Legend Erich von Stroheim for going over budget.

Then much to Von Stroheim's Chagrin, at Metro Thalberg came under control of the Director's Artistic Masterpiece "Greed" and cut it to shreds for Financial Conservatism. 

And worse than that, much of what was cut out--from what many consider to be one of the greatest American films ever made-- was simply lost or thrown away.

You could say that Thalberg had a serious bent for artistic production, if at the same time he would be making a big profit from it. 

Some of his best work was done with the Marx Brothers. That's the kind of executive he was - - he wanted to tightly control the budget for the highest return. The Marx Brothers movies were perfect for that-- artistic, esoteric, some classical music, but always hilarious and every class of Americans, on every level went crazy over them.

 

Thalberg was no Art For Art's Sake guy. He and he alone effectively ended Erich von Stroheim's career in Hollywood as a director.

I would agree that Thalberg was a master of making a profit from art, but with The Marx Brothers, I think he sacrificed art for profit. Using the Marx Brothers as props or devices around which to propel romantic stories may have worked for mainstream Americans and the bottom line, but the two movies Thalberg had a has them sharing the spotlight.  Without a doubt, Paramount used them better.  MGM does get some gems in their movies from The Marx Brothers, but not to the degree that is on parr with their earlier perfection.  

I do see what you are saying about Stroheim and La Shearer, though.

To use a relatively recent quote (and add the Marx Brothers):

Nobody puts Groucho in a corner....

but Thalberg did.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, Princess of Tap said:

I believe it was Mayer who picked Greta Garbo and she came to be their biggest star.

 The thing  about Mayer was that he was the executive who kept the talent in line. He dealt with them, disciplined them and praised them. He was the executive in charge and they never forgot it.

Mayer gave the public what they wanted and what they wanted coincided with his Viewpoint of how America should be idealized.

***

As far as Thalberg being artistically minded, he let that go when he was working FOR his wife Norma Shearer. He probably spent  50% of his time promoting Norma Shearer's career. His desire to do this big-budget Marie Antoinette movie had more to do with promoting her than his desire to Simply have this historically, culturally, artistic film about French history.

Thalberg's career at Universal had shown that he placed budgets and financial management ahead of Art.  Thalberg was the one who  who fired Cinematic Legend Erich von Stroheim for going over budget.

Then much to Von Stroheim's Chagrin, at Metro Thalberg came under control of the Director's Artistic Masterpiece "Greed" and cut it to shreds for Financial Conservatism. 

And worse than that, much of what was cut out--from what many consider to be one of the greatest American films ever made-- was simply lost or thrown away.

You could say that Thalberg had a serious bent for artistic production, if at the same time he would be making a big profit from it. 

Some of his best work was done with the Marx Brothers. That's the kind of executive he was - - he wanted to tightly control the budget for the highest return. The Marx Brothers movies were perfect for that-- artistic, esoteric, some classical music, but always hilarious and every class of Americans, on every level went crazy over them.

Thalberg was no Art For Art's Sake guy. He and he alone effectively ended Erich von Stroheim's career in Hollywood as a director.

I think what happened between Von Stroheim and Thalberg had less to do with money and more to do with two egos. And Thalberg was going to make sure he won that battle. If he was really concerned about profits, he would have kept footage from GREED and recycled as much of it as he could for exterior shots in other outdoor pictures. You don't just throw footage on the scrap heap you've already paid for unless you are doing it to make a point and destroy someone's career and humiliate them on purpose. When RKO fired Orson Welles and cut THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, they recycled some of that footage and put it in other movies. A prudent studio boss would do that. Thalberg was not always about saving money. Also, as we see with the extravagant budgets on his wife's pictures, money was often no object.

I don't know about Garbo's having been hired by Mayer. But my earlier comment was more about Mayer in the 40s, after Garbo was history. Mayer was no great purveyor of culture. He had Thalberg and Selznick to do that. And then we get to where Dore Schary gains power at the studio after the war and we see how culture and film can be used to promote a more liberal agenda, something Mayer was clueless about.

Mayer was old world old school. The other three were a new wave and they differed significantly from him, as well as from each other.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, Princess of Tap said:

I believe it was Mayer who picked Greta Garbo and she came to be their biggest star.

 The thing  about Mayer was that he was the executive who kept the talent in line. He dealt with them, disciplined them and praised them. He was the executive in charge and they never forgot it.

Mayer gave the public what they wanted and what they wanted coincided with his Viewpoint of how America should be idealized.

***

As far as Thalberg being artistically minded, he let that go when he was working FOR his wife Norma Shearer. He probably spent  50% of his time promoting Norma Shearer's career. His desire to do this big-budget Marie Antoinette movie had more to do with promoting her than his desire to Simply have this historically, culturally, artistic film about French history.

Thalberg's career at Universal had shown that he placed budgets and financial management ahead of Art.  Thalberg was the one who  who fired Cinematic Legend Erich von Stroheim for going over budget.

Then much to Von Stroheim's Chagrin, at Metro Thalberg came under control of the Director's Artistic Masterpiece "Greed" and cut it to shreds for Financial Conservatism. 

And worse than that, much of what was cut out--from what many consider to be one of the greatest American films ever made-- was simply lost or thrown away.

You could say that Thalberg had a serious bent for artistic production, if at the same time he would be making a big profit from it. 

Some of his best work was done with the Marx Brothers. That's the kind of executive he was - - he wanted to tightly control the budget for the highest return. The Marx Brothers movies were perfect for that-- artistic, esoteric, some classical music, but always hilarious and every class of Americans, on every level went crazy over them.

 

Thalberg was no Art For Art's Sake guy. He and he alone effectively ended Erich von Stroheim's career in Hollywood as a director.

Thanks for bringing up "Greed", Princess. I'd kill to see the whole version. I have enjoyed when TCM has shown it with the inserted bits of stills to simulate the original, but if they would only locate those missing scenes I'd be a happy camper. I love seeing the gold simulated objects too in that version. Still revelling about how great Zasu Pitts was in that movie, a dramatic talent which was hardly tapped after that film.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, CaveGirl said:

Thanks for bringing up "Greed", Princess. I'd kill to see the whole version. I have enjoyed when TCM has shown it with the inserted bits of stills to simulate the original, but if they would only locate those missing scenes I'd be a happy camper. I love seeing the gold simulated objects too in that version. Still revelling about how great Zasu Pitts was in that movie, a dramatic talent which was hardly tapped after that film.

CG--  When I was a little girl I used to watch Gale Storm  on TV in "Oh, Susanna". Zasu Pitts had a supporting role in the series. Whenever they would introduce her, my mother would just go wild-- about how wonderful and how great she was. We saw a lot of the old movie stars on TV, but my mother never had the same reaction about the others.

It wasn't until I was in graduate school and I was studying film that I got to see what was left of "Greed" and I came to understand why she had that reaction.

Zasu was such a profound and beautiful actress who never saw her ultimate potential.  Like you, I'm thankful for what was left of "Greed" and also what she went on to accomplish in so many comedies that would otherwise be forgotten except for her presence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thalberg's MGM seemed to be more sophisticated, more urban driven, European in nature, whereas Mayer's was more American, small-town, wholesome. They are two very different styles, but I have to say I am very fond of both types.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, CinemaInternational said:

Thalberg's MGM seemed to be more sophisticated, more urban driven, European in nature, whereas Mayer's was more American, small-town, wholesome. They are two very different styles, but I have to say I am very fond of both types.

I think the key difference was that Thalberg was about culture; and Mayer was about philosophy. 

With one we get Norma Shearer in THE STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD HEIDELBERG; and with the other we get Janet Gaynor in SMALL TOWN GIRL. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I almost feel like MGM was successful artistically in spite of Louis B. Mayer! But he knew how to surround himself with good people, I guess.

Wasn't Thalberg near the end of his life fired from his executive position and reduced to "merely" a producer?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us