Evergreen: Victor Saville in His Own Words

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A founding father of British filmmaking, Victor Saville created such classics as I Was a Spy, Evergreen, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, The Mortal Storm, A Woman’s Face, and Green Dolphin Street. Completed by Saville’s collaborator, Hollywood biographer Roy Moseley, in the years following Saville’s death in 1979, Evergreen: Victor Saville in His Own Words presents the esteemed filmmaker’s memories of the development of the film industry in England and the United States, from the silent screen to “talkies,” from black-and-white to Technicolor, from the golden age of Hollywood to the rise of television.

Born in Birmingham in 1897, Saville started small in the film business after being discharged from his unit in World War I following an injury. Working first for a distribution company, Saville was exposed to the earliest British silent films as well as imported “blockbusters” such as The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance by D. W. Griffith. In 1922 he ventured to Hollywood to persuade silent film star Betty Compson to star in his first film, Woman to Woman, ultimately made with the assistance of Alfred Hitchcock in his first film job as assistant art director. Perhaps Saville’s most winning partnership was with Jessie Matthews, whom he directed in The Good Companions, Evergreen, First a Girl, and Friday the Thirteenth. He came to Hollywood permanently in 1941 when Louis B. Mayer invited him to work for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, whereupon Saville broke MGM’s questionable ties with Berlin, at a shocking time, by making The Mortal Storm. His memoir provides an intimate and detailed look at Saville’s long relationships with studio moguls Mayer and Alexander Korda and his work with an impressive list of film stars, including Robert Donat, Greer Garson, Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Hedy Lamarr, Margaret Sullavan, Ingrid Bergman, Jeanette MacDonald, Lana Turner, Deborah Kerr, Elizabeth Taylor, Errol Flynn, and Paul Newman. Saville’s circle of personal friends in Hollywood, where he lived with his wife, Phoebe, from 1941 to 1955, included the Marx brothers, Jack Benny, Danny Kaye, and George Burns.

With Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Balcon, and Herbert Wilcox, Saville was a cornerstone of the early British film industry. Owing to Roy Moseley’s expert crafting, Evergreen: Victor Saville in His Own Words takes the reader behind the scenes of film’s golden age to reveal the tensions and power plays involved in studio filmmaking and struggles with stars, studios, and, many times, film censors, as well as the intricacies of early production, direction, and distribution methods.

 

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Evergreen: Victor Saville in his own words

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Before Victor Saville!s death in 1979, Moseley (Cary Grant: The Lonely Heart) spent years interviewing the producer-director. In this brisk but fact-filled biography, the savvy Saville describes 20th ... Read full review

Contents

Something Called the Film Business
1
South Shields 606
14
Roses ofPicardy
27
Sunshine Susie
43
Evergreen
61
South Riding
86
The Citadel
103
The Earl of Chicago
125
Mz? Gg
148
Green Dolphin Street
167
U Kim
178
Some Shadows on a Screen
194
The Films of Victor Saville
211
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About the author (2000)

Victor Saville gave Roy Moseley his chance to become a writer by allowing him to coauthor his autobiography in 1974, when Moseley was working in the theatre with Laurence Olivier. Moseley emerged as a leading show business journalist of his time in England. After the success of his first book, My Stars and Other Friends, Moseley wrote an intimate memoir of his life with Bette Davis and the first biography of Sir Rex Harrison. He also collaborated on the definitive biographies of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Merle Oberon, and Cary Grant. Moseley has worked extensively in the United States where his books have appeared on the New York Times best sellers list. He presently lives and works in Los Angeles.

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