CARI BEAUCHAMP discusses & signs
MY FIRST TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
Wednesday, July 22nd at 7PM
8818 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood
This is the extraordinary story, told for the first time, of Joseph P. Kennedy’s remarkable reign in Hollywood, in which he ran three movie studios simultaneously, led the revolution in sound pictures—and made the fortune that became the foundation of his empire.
Kennedy saw filmmaking as “a gold mine” when movies were an idea one week, in front of the camera the next, and in theaters within the month.
It was 1919; Kennedy was thirty-one years old.
Between 1926 and 1930, Kennedy used his talents to position himself as a Hollywood leader. He ran Film Booking Offices (FBO), was brought in to run Pathé and the Keith-Albee-Orpheum theaters, and became the chairman of their boards. Within months, he was asked to head First National film company. By 1928, Kennedy—merciless, electrifying, a visionary—was running three studios at once.
In Joseph P. Kennedy Presents, Cari Beauchamp writes about the genius behind Kennedy’s profiteering and his importance in changing the way Hollywood conducted business. As one of the first nonfamily members to be given access to Kennedy’s personal papers, Beauchamp, through years of meticulous research and countless interviews with those close to Kennedy, has dug through the maze of deals and the files of memos and notes, only recently made available, to tell in full how he made it all happen: how he charmed, cajoled, and bullied; how he juggles various backers—and managed to line his pockets with millions.
Beauchamp writes about the movies Kennedy produced and the stars he made, about the studios he razed and those he reorganized, about the jobs that werelost and the careers that were ruined (among them, that of silent film cowboy star Fred Thomson—one of America’s top box-office draws).
Beauchamp tells for the first time the full story of Kennedy’s affair with the feisty Gloria Swanson, the “reigning Queen of Hollywood”—an extravagant escapade that became legend and that triggered one of Hollywood’s biggest financial fiascos. It began with Kennedy taking over Swanson’s personal and professional life (“Together we could make millions,” he promised), and ended with his first failure (personal and public) and her career on the brink of ruin, a million dollars in debt.
Beauchamp writes as well about the Hollywood titans surrounding Kennedy: William Randolph Hearst (Kennedy was a welcome guest at “the ranch”) . . . Cecil B. De Mille . . . David Sarnoff, who, with Kennedy, masterminded the unprecedented deal that resulted in the founding of RKO, and that made Kennedy millions.
A fascinating tale of business genius and personal greed that brings to light not only the way Joseph P. Kennedy made his fortune, but how he forever changed the business of movie-making.
You can’t beat the Kennedy dynasty when it comes to enduring fascination. The Bush clan might have pulled ahead of them by putting two presidents into the White House. But even during inauguration week, when you might have thought all eyes would be on the Obama family, up popped not one but two Kennedys (Edward and Caroline) to grab some of the spotlight.
And when it comes to progenitors, how can the worthy Sen. Prescott Bush compete with Joseph P. Kennedy: tycoon, bootlegger extraordinaire, ambassador to the Court of St. James’s and world-class philanderer? Now, along comes this immensely detailed and equally immensely enjoyable book to tell us that he was a player in the film business as well:
“This is the man who took Hollywood by storm, at one point running four companies simultaneously when no one before or since ran more than one. … He was the architect of the mergers that laid the groundwork for today’s Hollywood. While he might be surprised to find that United Artists, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Columbia are now all partially owned by the same multinational conglomerate, he was the one who designed that very blueprint. Kennedy was the first financier to simply buy a studio.” (Click on ‘Continue Reading’ for more)
Produced and directed by George Stevens, THE MORE THE MERRIER stars Jean Arthur as a career woman who finds herself with more roommates than she bargained for when she rents her “half-apartment” during the housing shortage in wartime Washington, D.C. Arthur earned an Academy Award® nomination for her performance, and Charles Coburn (as an enterprising lodger) took home the Supporting Actor Oscar®. The film also garnered nominations for Outstanding Motion Picture, Directing, Original Motion Picture Story, and Screenplay.
THE MORE THE MERRIER is the latest presentation in a lecture series named for George Stevens, a prolific producer-director who enjoyed the autonomy, respect and creative freedom that few did during Hollywood’s studio era. While his films as a whole defy easy description, they all reflect a definitive filmmaking style as well as a unique and nuanced view of American life and values. His many other notable films include the Best Picture nominees THE TALK OF THE TOWN (1942), A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951), SHANE (1953) and GIANT (1956), two of which (A PLACE IN THE SUN and GIANT) earned him Directing Oscars®. In 1953 Stevens received the Academy’s Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, honoring a producer’s body of work.
In her introduction to THE MORE THE MERRIER, Cari Beauchamp, Academy film scholar and author of the upcoming book Joseph P. Kennedy Presents, will offer insights into the making of the film, the context of its wartime production, and Stevens’s approach to comedy.
Cast: Jean Arthur (Connie Milligan), Joel McCrea (Joe Carter), Charles Coburn (Benjamin Dingle), Richard Gaines (Charles J. Pendergast), Bruce Bennett (Evans), Frank Sully (Pike), Don Douglas (Harding), Clyde Fillmore (Senator Noonan), Stanley Clements (Morton Rodakiewicz), Ann Savage (Miss Dalton), Grady Sutton (Waiter).
Produced and Directed by George Stevens. Associate Producer Fred Guiol. Screenplay Robert Russell, Frank Ross, Richard Flournoy, Lewis R. Foster. Story Robert Russell, Frank Ross. Cinematography Ted Tetzlaff. Film Editing Otto Meyer. Art Direction Lionel Banks, Rudolph Sternad. Music Leigh Harline.
About Cari Beauchamp:
Cari Beauchamp is the author of Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood and the upcoming Joseph P. Kennedy Presents, and is the editor, with Mary Anita Loos, of Anita Loos Rediscovered: Film Treatments and Fiction. Beauchamp was named an Academy film scholar in 2004.