King Vidor in Focus: On the Filmmaker’s Artistry and Vision

McFarland. Jul. 2024. 120p. ISBN 9781476670096. pap. $49.95. FILM
Stoehr (humanities, Boston Univ.; Nihilism in Film and Television) and film scholar/literary critic Gallagher (editor, Noir Riot) focus on Vidor (1894–1982), a Hollywood director with a 67-year career. It began with silent films, including the World War I saga The Big Parade and Show People, one of several Marion Davies comedies. Five of Vidor’s films earned him Best Director Oscar nominations, including The Crowd; Hallelujah, the first all-Black musical; The Champ; The Citadel (he won for this one); and War and Peace. Other films range from audience-pleasers (Our Daily Bread; Bird of Paradise, and more) to camp classics (such as Duel in the Sun). Vidor’s experience of the 1900 Galveston hurricane influenced his uncredited design of the tornado scene in The Wizard of Oz. The occasional screenwriter and auteur director, whose devotion to Christian Science and religion generally centered him on social justice issues, later shifted his attention from collective issues to idealistic individualism and became a conservative, traditionalist Republican who cofounded the Screen Directors Guild in 1936.
VERDICT Film aficionados and scholars will welcome this informative and sympathetic book-length Vidor study, the first since 1988’s King Vidor, American by Raymond Durgnat and Scott Simmon.
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