Edmund Goulding’s Dark Victory: Hollywood’s Genius Bad Boy is the first biography ever written about this eccentric genius of early-twentieth-century filmmaking. Goulding (1891–1959) was by turns a writer, producer, composer, and actor, but it is as a director that he made an indelible impression. He is most remembered today as the director of Grand Hotel, the great Event Movie of the Depression. At the dawn of sound, he wrote the story for the Academy Award–winning musical The Broadway Melody and collaborated memorably with Gloria Swanson and Joseph Kennedy for The Trespasser. He excelled at anti-war drama (White Banners, The Dawn Patrol, We Are Not Alone), fantastic Bette Davis weepies (Dark Victory, The Old Maid, The Great Lie), lilting romantic dramas (The Constant Nymph, Claudia), big-budget literary adaptations (The Razor’s Edge), and even film noir (Nightmare Alley). The London-born Goulding was a complicated and contradictory man whose notorious orgies, bisexuality, drinking, and drug addictions were whispered about in Hollywood for years. Yet his well-crafted plots and compelling characters set a new standard in American cinema and had a profound influence on the future of filmmaking. With a forward by preeminent film historian and documentary filmmaker Kevin Brownlow, Edmund Goulding's Dark Victory charts the unjustly neglected legacy of a gifted, impulsive artist.
Matthew gives an overview of the book:
Edmund Goulding, a mysterious, dapper, and captivatingly witty Englishman, was one of the most intriguing characters of Golden Age Hollywood. He is rightly remembered as an excellent film director, but he was also one of themost versatile and ultitalented personalities of his time. Certainly he directed some of the most well-crafted American film dramas of the 1930s and 1940s, including Grand Hotel, The Dawn Patrol, Dark Victory, the Old Maid, We Are Not Alone, the Constant Nymph, Claudia, The Razor's Edge, and Nightmare Alley. But a recitation of his directing credits is not enough. It is possible that no one who made movies has ever been so diversely talented. Eddie, as his friends called him, did everything: acted, wrote screenplays, composed music, edited, and produced. He was even an uncredited hairstylist, background-score composer, casting director, wardrobe supervisor, and make up artist. He wrote plays and novels, including the bestseller Fury, which he adapted into a movie. Though he was tied to Hollywood, he maintained an unduying love for Broadway, where he wrote, produced, and directed. He wrote poems, played tennis, sailed, and boxed, and still found time to be at all the right parties and to have a scandalous, bisexual private life. he once remarked that "studio people think I'm a little crazy" due to his desire to be all things while resisting long-term contracts.