Victor Fleming: An American Movie Master

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Victor Fleming receiving his Oscar for Gone with the Wind

 

Do you love to watch timeless masterpieces like Casablanca or Ben-Hur? If you answered something like “Totally!” then get excited because tomorrow is the first day of the TCM Classic Film Festival! They’re celebrating in Hollywood with screenings of classic movies every day, and here at the University Press of Kentucky, we’re celebrating by recognizing the great directors, screenwriters, and actors that made these movies the successes that they were!

One movie that is just as big a hit today as when it was released in 1939, is Gone with the Wind. A tour de force in the world of cinema, it portrays the life of the pretty southern belle Scarlett O’Hara who manipulates the people around her. And though Vivien Leigh danced and huffed her way to stardom portraying the snooty belle, the real talent behind the scenes of this film came in the form of its director, Victor Fleming.

 

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Above: (seated from left) Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Victor Fleming and others on set of Gone with the Wind

Famous for Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), Victor Fleming is responsible for some of the most beloved American films of all time. Interestingly, as discussed by Michael Sragow in his book Victor Fleming: An American Movie Master, Fleming himself was the inspiration for the characters of some of his lead male stars including Rhett Butler played by Clark Gable, Pilon played by Spencer Tracy, and the Virginian played by Gary Cooper.

 

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Above: Clark Gable (left) and Victor Fleming

The book makes the persuasive argument that Fleming was a directing titan in his era and according to Time magazine, this book “illuminat[es] the many famous lives that Fleming touched (and helped to shape) and the ways in which sets, casts, contracts, and careers worked during Hollywood’s grand glory days .”

If you want to read about Fleming’s influence on Hollywood and why Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz are still so popular, then pick up Sragow’s book today!

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