Born in 1899 to an immigrant family, Irving Thalberg soon stood out as a dynamic figure in the fledgling film industry. Initially taken on an assistant to Carl Laemmle at Universal Pictures, he had a meteoric rise to head of production, overseeing such classics as THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1925) starring Lon Chaney. Moving to MGM under Louis B. Mayer's generalship, he became head of production in Hollywood's biggest studio, overseeing a roster of movies and signing up the biggest stars, helping to transform the studio into the proverbial dream factory.
In the end his efforts received due recognition with the award of an Oscar for MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1935): an archival film showed him accepting it with due modesty from the director Frank Capra.
Yet Thalberg, for all his workaholic tendencies, had been born with a heart defect; this was the principal cause of his early death in 1936 at the height of his career.
Paul Merton told the tale of this modest yet artistically brilliant mogul, who was prepared to support minority productions if he believed in them, yet never forgot the importance of making money for his studios. It was this combination of commercial acumen and artistic taste that rendered Thalberg such a great mogul. With archival contributions from luminaries such as King Vidor, and new interviews with screen legends such as Dame Angela Lansbury, this was a highly entertaining and informative documentary.
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