King Vidor

Director, Actor, Projectionist
King Vidor's films range across all genres, but they are unified by a concern with the struggle for selfhood in a pluralistic, mass society. Influenced both by D.W. Griffith's realism and Sergei Eisenstein's montage ... Read more »
Born: 02/07/1894 in Galveston, Texas, USA

Filmography

Director (32)

Solomon and Sheba 1958 (Movie)

(Director)

War and Peace 1956 (Movie)

(Director)

Man Without a Star 1955 (Movie)

(Director)

Beyond the Forest 1949 (Movie)

(Director)

The Fountainhead 1948 (Movie)

(Director)

Duel in the Sun 1947 (Movie)

(Director)

An American Romance 1944 (Movie)

(Director)

Comrade X 1939 (Movie)

(Director)

The Citadel 1938 (Movie)

(Director)

Stella Dallas 1936 (Movie)

(Director)

The Texas Rangers 1935 (Movie)

(Director)

Cynara 1931 (Movie)

(Director)

The Champ 1930 (Movie)

(Director)

Billy the Kid 1929 (Movie)

(Director)

Show People 1927 (Movie)

(Director)

The Crowd 1927 (Movie)

(Director)

The Big Parade 1924 (Movie)

(Director)

Bird of Paradise (Movie)

(Director)

Hallelujah! (Movie)

(Director)

Japanese War Bride (Movie)

(Director)

Lightning Strikes Twice (Movie)

(Director)

Love Never Dies (Movie)

(Director)

Northwest Passage (Movie)

(Director)

Peg O' My Heart (Movie)

(Director)

Ruby Gentry (Movie)

(Director)

Street Scene (Movie)

(Director)

The Jack Knife Man (Movie)

(Director)

The Mask of Fu Manchu (Movie)

(Director)

The Patsy (Movie)

(Director)

The Wedding Night (Movie)

(Director)

Wild Oranges (Movie)

(Director)

Wine of Youth (Movie)

(Director)
Writer (9)

War and Peace 1956 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

An American Romance 1944 (Movie)

(From Story)

The Texas Rangers 1935 (Movie)

(From Story)

The Crowd 1927 (Movie)

(From Story)

The Crowd 1927 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Hallelujah! (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

Love Never Dies (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

The Jack Knife Man (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

Wild Oranges (Movie)

(Screenwriter)
Producer (9)

An American Romance 1944 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Champ 1930 (Movie)

(Producer)

Billy the Kid 1929 (Movie)

(Producer)

Show People 1927 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Big Parade 1924 (Movie)

(Producer)

Hallelujah! (Movie)

(Producer)

Love Never Dies (Movie)

(Producer)

Ruby Gentry (Movie)

(Producer)

Wine of Youth (Movie)

(Producer)
Actor (6)

MGM: When the Lion Roars 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Love and Money 1982 (Movie)

Walter Klein (Actor)

75 Years of Cinema Museum 1971 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Hollywood: The Selznick Years 1968 - 1969 (TV Show)

Actor

Souls For Sale 1922 (Movie)

(Actor)

It's a Great Feeling (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Biography

King Vidor's films range across all genres, but they are unified by a concern with the struggle for selfhood in a pluralistic, mass society. Influenced both by D.W. Griffith's realism and Sergei Eisenstein's montage aesthetic, Vidor has come closer to reconciling these strains than any other American director.

Raised in Texas, Vidor shot local events for national newsreel companies before forming the Hotex Motion Picture Company in Houston in 1914. Moving to Hollywood with his actress wife Florence, he supported himself with a variety of production jobs before settling at Universal as a writer. His first directing work in Hollywood was independently produced. He made a series of ten inspirational shorts in 1918, followed by "The Turn in the Road" (1919), an extremely successful feature with Vidor's Christian Science beliefs as thematic material.

After a series of further successes released through Robertson-Cole and First National between 1919 and 1921, the director founded "Vidor Village," a small studio from which he planned to produce independently. The experiment failed, but in the meantime Florence Vidor had become a star, and Vidor directed several films featuring her before beginning work for the Metro and Goldwyn studios in 1922. The merger which created MGM in 1924 also made Vidor a senior director for the company, and his fifth film for the young studio, "The Big Parade" (1925), was a landmark critical and popular success.

"The Big Parade" was the first serious screen treatment of WWI, and its harrowing story of a disinterested heir (John Gilbert) experiencing passion, fear and loss in wartime struck a responsive chord. The film, reportedly one of the most profitable silent films ever produced, made Gilbert a star, vaulted MGM to front-rank studio status and gave Vidor unheard-of creative control.

Vidor's record as a bankable director accounts for the freedom with which he was able to make the unusual urban parable, "The Crowd" (1928). Though a financial failure, the film garnered further prestige for MGM and reinforced Vidor's now international reputation for stylistic experimentation and uncompromising concern for social issues. Subsequent critical milestones were "Hallelujah" (1929), a pioneering black film; "Street Scene" (1931), an adaptation of Elmer Rice's socially conscious drama; and "Our Daily Bread" (1934), the story of a Depression agricultural cooperative, clearly indebted to Soviet montage filmmaking. Notable box-office successes for Vidor were "The Champ" (1931) and "Stella Dallas" (1937). Vidor was instrumental in founding the Screen Directors' Guild in 1936, and alongside John Ford, Frank Capra and Ernst Lubitsch, was a central figure in 30s American filmmaking.

After some three weeks' work on "The Wizard of Oz" (1939) and the spectacular and innovative location Technicolor photography of "Northwest Passage" (1940), Vidor became frustrated with MGM's apparent lack of commitment to his increasingly epochal vision of American life. His "An American Romance" (1944) was drastically cut by MGM and led him to sever ties with the studio where, except for prestigious loan-outs, he had been directing for over 20 years.

Vidor's epic "Duel in the Sun" (1947) pioneered the "adult" western genre, but he quit the project before completion and the final result is the product of several directorial hands, as well as producer David O. Selznick. After his episode of the omnibus film "On Our Merry Way" (1948) was cut by producer Benedict Bogeaus, Vidor signed with Warner Bros. for what would eventually be a three-picture deal. The first of these projects was "The Fountainhead" (1949), which skillfully combined novelist Ayn Rand's radical egoism with the director's own, more quizzical, individualism. The story of an architect's battle with professional and social hypocrisy, the film was among Vidor's most fully realized productions of the postwar period. Although equally striking, "Beyond the Forest" (1949) was thematically bizarre: the tale of a small-town doctor's wife (Bette Davis) and her ambitions ended Davis' 20-year career at Warners amid poor box-office returns and much resentment.

On concluding his deal with Warners, Vidor experimented as an independent producer with two films, "Japanese War Bride" (1952) and, in the same year, "Ruby Gentry"--the last picture to fully manifest his bleak point of view and operatic visual style. His last three features were the inconclusive and bloodless "Man Without a Star" (1955) and the spectacles "War and Peace" (1956) and "Solomon and Sheba" (1959).

Vidor spent his last years producing two short films on metaphysics, lecturing at film schools and retrospectives of his work, and trying to interest producers in various projects, including a film based on his investigation of the 1924 William Desmond Taylor murder case.

Vidor's darkly humanistic vision, accompanied (especially in the 1925-35 period) by a striking and eclectic visual style, made him one of the most influential directors of his time. His oeuvre is as rich, diverse and intelligent as any in the history of cinema.

Relationships

Eleanor Boardman Actor

Wife
Married Sept. 8, 1926 their wedding was almost a dual ceremony with Greta Garbo and John Gilbert, but Garbo changed her mind and never showed up fought custody dispute over two daughters divorced 1932

Elizabeth Hill

Wife
married in 1932

Florence Vidor Actor

Wife

EDUCATION

Peacock Military Academy

San Antonio , Texas

Milestones

1974

Directed two short documentaries, "Truth and Illusion"

1959

Retired from directing

1929

Filmed first sound feature, "Hallelujah"

1925

Directed first hit, "The Big Parade"

1922

Joined MGM after Vidor Village shut down

1920

Formed Vidor Village studio

1919

Debut as film director with "The Turn in the Road"

1918

Directed shorts about reform work of Judge Willis Brown

1915

Shot first film (two-reeler), "In Tow" (date approximate)

1915

Drove to Hollywood (financed trip by shooting footage for Ford Company's advertising newsreel)

1909

Worked in Galveston's first movie theater, the Globe, as ticket-taker and part-time projectionist

Became instructor for UCLA graduate cinema class in the 1960s

Became amateur newsreel photographer, shooting local events and selling them to newsreel companies

Submitted original scripts to Universal under pseudonym, Charles K Wallis

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