From the Bank Dick to Twelve O’Clock High
Author: Ray Olson
The world is always at war, but twice the fact was admitted. And though war has a well-recorded effect of changing everything, that was particularly true of World War II.
In the 1930s, MGM’s top directors were Clarence Brown (a favorite of Garbo’s), the prolific W. S. Van Dyke, of whom I’ve written for FF, and Victor Fleming. In 1939, MGM observed its silver anniversary. Since it was the biggest American movie studio, it launched a campaign to make 1939 known as Hollywood’s greatest year
On the supposition that lightning strikes twice, the movie industry loves remaking box office bonanzas. There are six Hollywood versions (and one Japanese) of Peter B. Kyne’s short novel, The Three Godfathers (1913). In 1929, when the talkies were taking, if not baby, then toddler, steps, everything clicked.
Of the first generation of top Hollywood directors—Griffith, DeMille, Stroheim, Walsh, Curtiz, Chaplin, Dwan, Fleming, Brown, Lubitsch, Sternberg, Ford, Borzage, Vidor, Keaton, Hawks, Wellman, Capra, McCarey… W(oodbridge) S(trong) Van Dyke II (1889-1943) is the most unjustly forgotten and underrated.