Walter Wanger, Hollywood Independent

Walter Wanger, Hollywood Independent

Walter Wanger, Hollywood Independent

Walter Wanger, Hollywood Independent

Excerpt

I first heard of Walter Wanger more than ten years ago while working as a research assistant to Donald Spoto on his massive biography of Alfred Hitchcock, The Dark Side of Genius. Spoto asked me to dig up some information about Wanger and the making of Foreign Correspondent. At that time, one lengthy and informative interview in Bernard Rosenberg and Harry Silverstein's The Real Tinsel and a few pages in Tino Balio's United Artists: The Company Built by the Stars composed the bibliography of writings on Wanger. But virtually every star biography and Hollywood history mentioned him repeatedly.

The more I learned about the contours of Wanger's career, the more intrigued I became. It was full of contradictions.

Wanger produced several provocative message movies and aesthetically accomplished works, from Gabriel Over the White House to John Ford's Stage- coach. His most interesting films reinforced his authority as one of Hollywood's foresighted leaders during the late 1930s and early 1940s. An unrepentant idealist and a charismatic speaker, Wanger rose to the height of his prestige when topical movies about politics were rare and articulate, collegeeducated producers were unheard of. Leading the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences during World War II, publishing innumerable articles, and making a barrage of speeches, Wanger always stressed Hollywood's potential to keep the American citizenry informed and to influence the world. His career was virtually a one-man campaign to have Hollywood taken seriously by cultural critics. He became a national celebrity.

Yet the overwhelming bulk of Wanger's sixty-five films was not the outstanding titles he is best remembered for, but movies devoid of social signifi-

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.