'Lion of Hollywood' is the definitive biography of Louis B Mayer, the chief of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer -- MGM -- the biggest and most successful film studio of Hollywood's Golden Age. An immigrant from tsarist Russia, Mayer began in the film business as an exhibitor but soon migrated to where the action and the power were, Hollywood. Through sheer ...Read More'Lion of Hollywood' is the definitive biography of Louis B Mayer, the chief of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer -- MGM -- the biggest and most successful film studio of Hollywood's Golden Age. An immigrant from tsarist Russia, Mayer began in the film business as an exhibitor but soon migrated to where the action and the power were, Hollywood. Through sheer force of energy and foresight, he turned his own modest studio into MGM, where he became the most powerful man in Hollywood, bending the film business to his will. He made legendary films, including the fabulous MGM musicals, and he made iconic stars: Garbo, Gable, Garland and dozens of others. Whilst publicly promoting family values to America, he used his influence to place federal judges on the bench, pay off elected officials, cover up his stars' indiscretions, and on occasion, arrange marriages for gay stars. Mayer rose from his impoverished childhood to become at one time the highest-paid executive in America. Despite his power and money, Mayer suffered some significant losses. He was estranged from his daughter Edie and divorced his wife, ending his life alienated from most of his family. His chief assistant, Irving Thalberg, was his closest business partner, but they quarreled frequently, and Thalberg's early death left Mayer without his most trusted associate. As Mayer grew older, his politics became increasingly reactionary, and he found himself politically isolated within Hollywood's small conservative community. 'Lion of Hollywood' is a three-dimensional biography of a figure often caricatured and vilified as the paragon of the studio system. Mayer could be arrogant and tyrannical, but under his leadership MGM made such unforgettable films as 'The Big Parade', 'Ninotchka', 'The Wizard of Oz', 'Meet Me in St. Louis' and 'An American in Paris'.Read Less
This is about LB Mayer but there is more here about Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in an expanded, entertaining read. A great deal of information regarding the studio's financial profile over the years is highlighted. In some ways this one explains in greater detail why the studio system failed and adds to the expanding understanding of such a system. MGM was unique in many ways but I am surprised at the shortsightedness of many of the players involved. Again, greed is king and this book explains why. LB was, in some ways, very naive about the industry that made him so notable. Surprising!
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