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#173 Louis B. Mayer (Movie mogul)
March 28th, 2021 | E173

What I learned from reading Hollywood Rajah: The Life and Times of Louis B. Mayer by Bosley Crowther. 


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The reason so many people showed up at his funeral was because they wanted to make sure he was dead. [0:50]

He is in that phalanx of men of aggressive bent who seized on the opportunities that an expanding civilization exposed. With them, he ascended to high places along an upwardly spiraling route that was there to be ascended by those who had the necessary stamina and drive. And, with some of them , he was unsettled and rendered dizzy by the heights, so that he could not control his footing when the road itself began to narrow and fall. [2:07] 

His own recollections of his early childhood were mercifully meager and dim. They were mainly recollections of being hungry. That was the only memory Mayer had of himself as a little boy. [7:01] 

How powerful and violent were the urges in the depths of the growing boy to break out of his immigrant encasement. [10:27] 

One of his favorite maxims had to do with behavior in adversity. “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on." [11:55] 

He wanted to be a film producer. He wanted to get into that realm of fabrication and creation where glamour and excitement were. [27:00] 

My unchanging policy will be great star, great director, great play, great cast. You are authorized to get these without stint or limit. Spare nothing, neither expense, time, nor effort. Results only are what I am after. [33:00]

It was not all sunshine and profits with Mayer’s company during these embryonic days. Mayer was far from being one of the top producers of Hollywood. He was a small, enterprising operator. There were many others like him, clawing to get minor stars and unattached directors to make their pictures and help them to get ahead. On some films they picked up profits, on others they definitely did not. The business was always a gamble for them, as it was for Mayer. [39:13] 

The radical and profound transition (sound in movies) was spread over two or three years. Compulsion more than planning impelled it, against resistance within the industry. [49:57] 

The system (sound) was not regarded as anything more than a novelty by the remainder of the industry. [54:45] 

Mayer was no doubt a brilliant man, with vision and understanding in the business of manufacturing films as well as a fervor for investing in talent in every phase of production, to the point of extravagance, he was also a careless manager, a favorer with stubborn likes and dislikes, and a braggart who wasted his time and the time of others telling them what a great man he was. [1:01:33] 

 Mayer had a psychopathic need for power. [1:07:40] 


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