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A bemused & rather pixilated Robert Benchley offers up
screen valentine to DAVID O. SELZNICK: YOUR NEW
PRODUCER, showing highlights from Selznick's years at
Paramount, RKO & MGM.
This enjoyable little short is actually a bit of interesting film history. Up until this point, movie producers were rather an anonymous lot, generally not receiving screen credit or much recognition for their contributions. (Irving Thalberg, for instance, authentic genius & producing guru as No. 2 at MGM, did not receive screen credit until after his death.) But Selznick was leaving MGM and becoming a very big Hollywood player on his own terms, with his private production company. Hence this little tribute. The recognition would not be misplaced - Selznick's company would eventually become powerful enough to pick the biggest apple on the tree - GONE WITH THE WIND.
Benchley's dry wit is most amusing as he cuts the absent Selznick down a peg or two. While he mentions that Selznick was raised in the business - his father was a noted silent film director - he neglects to add that Selznick's marrying Louis B. Mayer's daughter didn't hurt his prospects any, either.
Excerpts are shown from the following films: Forgotten Faces (1928), The Four Feathers (1929), Sarah and Son (1930), Street of Chance (1930), The Lost Squadron (1932), A Bill of Divorcement (1932), Bird of Paradise (1932), The Animal Kingdom (1932), Symphony of Six Million (1932), What Price Hollywood? (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933), Little Women (1933), Dancing Lady (1933), King Kong (1933), Topaze (1933), Manhattan Melodrama (1934), Viva Villa! (1934), Anna Karenina (1935), David Copperfield (1935), A Tale of Two Cities, (1935).
This is an absolute prize if you are a film history buff. Other
reviewers have pretty much summed it up - It is humorist Peter Benchley
talking about the achievements of MGM producer David O. Selznick with
clips from the films he has produced for Paramount, RKO, and MGM.
Why would MGM bother to produce a short praising Selznick when they didn't do this for any other producer, including Irving Thalberg who practically built MGM from its inception in 1924 to 1933? Two reasons probably. The first can be seen in David Selznick's wedding pictures where he is marrying...Louis B. Mayer's daughter Irene in 1930. You know, Louis B. - the guy who ran MGM for 25 years? The second is Louis B. Mayer's well known jealousy of Irving Thalberg. When Thalberg had his long hiatus after his heart attack at the end of 1932, Mayer used the opportunity to give Selznick his own production unit. Oddly enough, Selznick and Thalberg were not enemies - each admired the other's work.
What is the irony I speak of? Well, this short was made in 1935, and shortly thereafter - in the same year - Selznick quit MGM and started his own independent film production company in direct competition with his father-in-law Louis B. Mayer. Given Buster Keaton's detailed stories about Mayer's disposition I can just see Mayer having a temper tantrum on his office floor upon hearing the news. Happy end to happy story.
David O. Selznick: Your New Producer (1935)
** (out of 4)
A rather strange promotional short has Robert Benchley talking about David O. Selznick coming to MGM. We get to see various films that Selznick did for RKO and Paramount but we also get a preview of what's to come at MGM. We get to see clips for movies such as THE FOUR FEATHERS, SARAH AND SON, STREET OF CHANCE, DINNER AT EIGHT, LITTLE WOMEN, KING KONG, TOPAZE, MANHATTAN MELODRAMA and VIVA VILLA! among others. This is a strange short because it's weird seeing a producer having a 25-minute short dedicated to him but we all know what he would eventually do at the studio. Benchley gets a few cheap shots in but they're all in good taste, although none of overly funny. In the end this is for film buffs only.
WARNING: These comments may reveal portions of the film
"Your New Producer" is an interesting study of how the old studio system kept their audiences interested in films and the people who made them. This short introduces "David O. Selznick," the new producer at the studio. Since Mr. Selznick himself has not appeared, comedic actor Robert Benchley gives you Mr. Selznick's background through shots of his previously produced films.
Selznick was as famous as many of the actors who would appear in the films he produced, his name becoming as recognisable as his stars, so that when he produced the classic, "Gone With the Wind," it would be billed as "David O. Selznick's 'Gone With the Wind' ".
For film historians, this short might prove interesting. For the everyday film watcher, it will likely be a bit of a yawn.
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