King Vidor

b. 1894, Galveston, Texas
d. 1982, Paso Robles, California

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Committed to the most unyielding and almost brutally positive American determination, King Vidor was a man of considerable artistic ambition who came of age in a period when movies were a new medium and wide-open for individual points of view. He made films glorifying the effects of Western civilisation and its contents, detailing how ordinary men are made extraordinary through their fight against the neutral destructiveness of nature. His men were winners who loved to work (with one key exception), and their will power became practically monolithic as Vidor’s career advanced. There’s a big difference between Tom Keene’s charismatic farm co-operative leader John in Our Daily Bread (1934) and the often-charmless tunnel vision of Brian Donlevy’s Steven Dangos in American Romance (1944), to say nothing of the nearly dictatorial self-confidence of Gary Cooper’s Howard Roark in The Fountainhead (1949). In this way, Vidor’s men became more unlikable and scarier as his country itself veered away from the proletarian dreams of the 1930s and into the consumer culture of the ’50s and beyond. All his men work against things: war, consuming lust, the land, the illnesses of the body, bourgeois routine, lost love. They always emerge stronger from their struggle.

By contrast, Vidor’s searching treatment of the suffering visited upon individualistic women remained fairly consistent throughout his career. A Vidor woman, like Barbara Stanwyck’s Stella Dallas, Hedy Lamarr’s Marvin Myles, Jennifer Jones’ Pearl Chavez and Ruby Gentry and (most spectacularly) Bette Davis’ Rosa Moline, has all the drive for power and carnal appetite as his men, and these primal urges ensure that they are punished by a hypocritical society. These are lower class, brazenly sexual women fighting frenziedly to break out of their sexist shackles, and they try every option to escape, from masochism (Stella Dallas) to sadism (Rosa Moline). They are female misfits who fit in nowhere, and the size of their thwarted needs makes them feel genuinely tragic, whereas Vidor’s men have a straight line right to their accomplishments, conveyed most satisfyingly in the epic irrigation sequence that ends Our Daily Bread, which employs rhythmic Soviet montage to thrill its Depression audience by the miraculous sight of water replenishing dried-out crops. How fitting it is when, at the end of Vidor’s career, he reverses the meaning of this image by having the vengeful Ruby Gentry flood her inconstant lover’s land with destructive water. Her low-voiced command, “Turn off the pumps”, has a sexual and emotional connotation that explodes back onto every other Vidor woman, and her bitter triumph leads us forward to his last memorable female character, Audrey Hepburn’s lyrical Natasha in War and Peace (1956), a girl whose exuberance is often restrained but never destroyed.

Vidor was born in Galveston, a small island off of Texas. As an infant, he survived one of the worst hurricanes on record; when he made one of his first attempts at filmmaking, he trained his camera on another disastrous wind. (He later directed the hurricane scenes of The Wizard of Oz [1939], as well as Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow” song). His father was a well-off lumberman inclined to a gambler’s speculation on property and business, and his mother raised Vidor as a Christian Scientist. The philosophy of Mary Baker Eddy had a lifelong effect on his work – he took her few good ideas and extrapolated a metaphysical philosophy of his own (he would later perform a similar edit, visually, on the dubious writings of Ayn Rand). Vidor was camera-conscious from an early age and had a gleeful “do-it-yourself” attitude that eventually led him from newsreel work to residence in the halcyon Hollywood of the middle teens, where he wrote and directed a number of movies for himself independently.

His first film, The Turn in the Road (1919), was the story of a man who questions his life after his wife dies in childbirth, and it made an impression on some religious financial backers who agreed to help him make movies. His second film, Better Times (1919), was a vehicle he wrote for that archetypal female misfit ZaSu Pitts, whose eccentricities had charmed him one day on a bus ride. Thus, early on, Vidor’s two main interests were crystallised: his need to dramatise a man’s search for meaning and drive for accomplishment, and his tender, often erotic love for the melodramatic travails of the independent twentieth century female. This latter interest was pursued in a stream of silent films for his first two wives, the actresses Florence Vidor and Eleanor Boardman, and he also garnered attention with The Jack-Knife Man (1920), a small variation on Silas Marner that showed the director thinking through the idea of Christian charity.

The Big Parade

As the studio system began to harden into place, Vidor found an ally in producer Irving Thalberg at MGM, who gave him full control over The Big Parade (1925), his first major work. The granddaddy of all war movies, it’s a still radical exploration of the many different techniques available to an artist working in film, from tranquil, patient observation with an unmoving camera to the most intense manipulation of editing, framing and montage. It opens with shots of skyscrapers climbing upwards, symbolising commerce and achievement (and reflecting forward on the phallus and capitalism glorifying edifices of The Fountainhead). As his three very different male leads go to war, Vidor accumulates mundane incidents to create a sense of life drifting by. He wanted to film ordinary existence, which included a sense of boredom and aimlessness (Vidor greatly influenced the Italian neo-realists). A sexy clash of cultures between French Melisande (Renee Adoree) and American doughboy James (John Gilbert) climaxes in his leaving for the front. The orchestration of this farewell sequence is operatic, as Melisande clasps James’ leg and lets his truck pull her along (the first instance of a Vidor heroine dragging herself self-destructively anywhere her passion will lead her). It’s both hilarious and touching, much like Pearl’s climb over the rocks in Duel in the Sun (1946).

Vidor used a metronome to time the cutting of the soldier’s march into a forest, and this tense sequence seems to have influenced many directors, especially Kurosawa and Spielberg. As you watch this scene, you begin to breathe on the beat of every cut – the rhythm of the editing puts you right there with the soldiers, places you squarely at the heart of the film so you can literally feel its pulse. After this perilous excitement, Vidor sticks you right into the trenches. When Gilbert’s James finally pulls himself out of them to denounce the war as pointless, it feels reasonable and judicious at this stage in the long narrative, even chilly. James is unable to kill an enemy soldier when confronted with him face to face. He loses a leg in the war, which makes his family uncomfortable, and Vidor films his hero from a long distance as he limps his way back to Melisande, a visual that inspired the painter Andrew Wyeth (this inspiration is explored in Vidor’s last film, Metaphor [1980]).

The Big Parade was a huge and deserved success, and Thalberg gave Vidor full leeway to make The Crowd (1928), probably the cinema’s most pitiless study of a born loser, and an anomaly in this director’s work – it was his favourite film, and it stands as his darkest insight into life. The Crowd opens with a baby being born and records heady predictions for his future. We then see the boy confronted with his father’s death, visualised by an Expressionistic shot of the child in the middle of some stairs that suggests a nightmarish birth canal (Vidor used a memory of his own father’s death to create this image).

The Crowd

“When John was 21, he became one of the seven million that believes New York depends on them”, reads a title card. Dissolves show hordes of people and an enormous building (one of Howard Roark’s monuments?) until we see John (James Murray) at his desk, a clock-watcher trying to come up with a winning slogan for an advertising contest. He courts Mary (Eleanor Boardman) all over Manhattan and Coney Island (the film was shot mainly on location), marries her, and takes her to Niagara Falls, where he professes his love to her very romantically, as if he were repeating things he’s seen at the movies.

We next see the couple in their shabby apartment. They have a baby, then another, and petty irritations build up between them quite believably. They try to relax at the beach, and Vidor keeps cutting to sand getting kicked onto a cake Mary baked, a repeated shot that expresses the whole realistic tone of the film. (In another movie, the cake would have been quickly and prettily squashed.) John still thinks he’s going to do big things, because that’s the way you’re supposed to feel in America, even if you’re meant to just get by. In his futile attempts to make something of himself, John reaches the tragic depths that plague later Vidor heroines of the ’40s and ’50s.

When John finally wins one of his contests and returns home with lots of nice consumer goods, he and Mary yell out the window to their children to come share their good fortune, and one of them is hit and killed by a car (the nasty irony of this sequence is unreservedly operatic). Lost in grief, John quits his job and spirals downward: he’s the anti-Roark, a do-nothing dreamer, and Murray, a transient extra who Vidor chose for the film, wears all the marks of a real-life loser on his decaying chipmunk face. Diverted from suicide by his remaining child, John eventually gives in and literally becomes a clown on the street to earn a living. This feels like mature acceptance, not defeat, because Vidor doesn’t believe in total despair, but The Crowd gives us plenty of opportunity to consider the cruel side of America’s survival of the fittest ethos when reflected by someone promised the world at birth and denied basic human dignity as an adult.

Vidor then made his third big film of the ’20s, Hallelujah (1929), a jagged, off-the-cuff portrait of African-American life, his first sound movie (which was all post-dubbed after he returned from location in the deep South). It mixes sex and religion into a feverish stew of quasi-musical longing for redemption. There’s a crude side to Vidor in most of his movies that functions in Hallelujah as his primary strength: he puts feelings on screen that are so pure that they wind up shimmering with ambiguity. During the first dunking in a dramatic baptism scene, Vidor cuts to a long shot that expresses the liberation of the moment, but when Zeke (Daniel L. Haynes) baptises temptress Chick (a fiercely carnal Nina Mae McKinney), he keep them in a two-shot to emphasise the sexuality of her religious ecstasy, which Vidor is drawn to; he’s dramatising a complex stand-off between the spirit and the flesh. At a revival meeting, Vidor cuts to an overhead shot of Chick as she writhes in Zeke’s arms, then a close-up as she bites his hand. These scenes of sexual and religious abandon have seemed racist to some writers, but the claustrophobic, weirdly framed exoticism of the whole movie is redeemed by the handling of Zeke and Chick, who are very much in line with his other ordinary men tempted by extraordinary women.

The Big Parade, The Crowd and Hallelujah established Vidor as an important artist, but he made himself available for the star vehicles that the studio system demanded, such as a fine version of La Boheme (1926) for Lillian Gish and three scintillating comedies for Marion Davies that brought out her antic comic skills (The Patsy, Show People [both 1928] and Not So Dumb [1930]). In the ’30s, Vidor often found himself stuck with projects he couldn’t give his full personal stamp. An early sound version of the legend of Billy the Kid (1930) laboured to give sympathetic motivation to its killer lead, but it’s a western filled with weird, vibrant comedy and a vivid sense of community. Vidor used fancy camera cutting to enliven a play adaptation like Street Scene (1931), but a mobile camera and some location work can’t mitigate the manipulative excesses of a male weepie like The Champ (1931). A standard triangle drama like Cynara (1932) was handled capably, and he brought out a swaggering sexual glamour in Miriam Hopkins for the moody, talky Stranger’s Return (1933), but other films were just a way of marking time. The inattention to vocal rhythms in some of these movies points up the fact that the handling of dialogue was never Vidor’s strong suit.

Two other less personal works from this period are of interest, though problematic. Most films of the ’30s that depict the Civil War look like offensive lies created to soothe Southern pride, but in So Red the Rose (1935), an adaptation of Stark Young’s antebellum novel, Vidor makes the white plantation folk characters seem loathsome, and he depicts the confused elation of his freed black characters with some complexity. Vidor created a kind of female companion to his Crowd loser in Stella Dallas (1937), played by Barbara Stanwyck. Stella is an ambitious, loud, vulgar woman with a cheap mind and worse clothes sense, but she deeply loves her daughter and makes the ultimate sacrifice for her.

Stella Dallas

Stella Dallas depends (rather unpleasantly) on Stanwyck’s keen sense of social inferiority, and the two sides of Stella’s character never seem to cohere. Stella, an avid moviegoer in her youth, becomes an audience to her own daughter’s wedding, forever barred from being one of life’s participants, but pleased with the show she has created (when a tear slides down her face, she opens her mouth to drink it, to savour it). This ending is potent, and says a lot about what the movies were beginning to do to our minds, but Vidor was unhappy with Stella Dallas, which bears the heavy hand of its producer, Samuel Goldwyn; it served chiefly as a dry run for his later epics of female frustration.

Vidor made only three movies in the ’30s that were truly personal projects: Bird of Paradise (1932), Our Daily Bread (1934) and The Citadel (1938), and this new trilogy adds dimension to his large films of the ’20s. Bird is a vision of sexual indulgence and culture clash that cannily uses the near-naked flesh of Dolores Del Rio and Joel McCrea to create a sort of paradise. It’s just a sexy adventure for the male character, who extols the joys of civilisation and eventually longs to get back to theatres, restaurants, parties, radios and airplanes – his callow curiosity costs his native lover her life (Vidor met his third and last wife, Elizabeth Hill, while shooting this movie, and she co-scripted most of his subsequent independent works). The Citadel was shot in England, and it’s an appropriately muted but wholehearted endorsement of progress and the ability of human effort to change God’s will. With the certainty of Howard Roark, Robert Donat’s fiery but fragile doctor defends himself so eloquently in a final courtroom scene that he leaves no room for debate.

Our Daily Bread is a strange but stirring film that finds equal fault with socialism and democracy and sets about creating a system of its own, based on the charisma of one man, John (Tom Keene). Vidor meant this movie as a continuation of The Crowd (John’s wife, played by Karen Morley, is named Mary), but this cheerful couple couldn’t be more different than their ’20s counterparts. Part of this is casting; Vidor had wanted James Murray to play the lead, but he was derisive when asked and simply asked for a hand out (he drowned in a reputed accident soon afterward). Smartly, Vidor offered Murray’s classic loser during the roaring ’20s and Keene’s classic winner for the loser-filled Depression.

The collective that John and Mary set up looks an awful lot like the ones in Russian Communist movies of the ’20s, but there’s a subtle difference: an attention to people’s individual needs. Barbara Pepper’s temptress disrupts the utopia they create, yet she’s likable at first (when she says, “I always got more pep when I’m doin’ something”, she’s spouting one of Vidor’s key get-up-and-go attitudes.) Sex is seen as unimportant here. Vidor gives the demoralised Depression man what he really wanted most: an idealisation of work.

In the ’40s, Vidor delivered another three movies that were more or less his: Northwest Passage (1940), H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941) and, most importantly, his ruined masterpiece, American Romance (1944). The first film is about another collective, Roger’s Rangers, a group of men hacking their way through an uncharted wilderness, led by Major Robert Rogers (Spencer Tracy), an inscrutable figurehead seen from the point of view of Langdon (Robert Young), who wants to be a painter, “an American artist”. An avid painter himself, Vidor fills his first colour film with gentle shades of red and green, and he stages a very exciting sequence where the men make a human chain to cross a river. Their burning of an Indian village is one of Vidor’s most disturbing scenes, and it recalls the discomfort of parts of So Red the Rose. We only hear about the Indian’s scalp-hunting, but we see the white man’s callous brutality in some detail – Vidor doesn’t judge it, which leaves him open to charges of racism. We expect our artists of today to slam down firmly on the side of politically correct angels, but the highest art cannot do that. Vidor gives you as much information as he can and he allows an audience to draw its own conclusions. This is unsettling to people used to cut-and-dried manipulation, but it’s the best way to communicate complex ideas in any medium.

With some relief, Vidor carried the placid Robert Young over to his next film, H.M Pulham, Esq., an adaptation of J. P. Marquand’s novel that he co-wrote with his wife Elizabeth Hill. We follow Young’s Harry Pulham through his cautious, cloistered, upper-middle class life; always utilising his eclectic American fluidity, Vidor can dissect just about any class, and he really catches the spirit of Harry’s stuffy, fond Boston world. When Vidor introduces a subjective shot of the woman Harry loved and lost (Hedy Lamarr), he pierces his character’s status quo dangerously, if momentarily (Vidor used a failed love affair from his own life as an inspiration for the dynamics in this film). There are a lot of careful low angles that express Pulham’s settled existence. Vidor takes things slowly, making a resolutely unexciting movie about an unexciting man, but he finds real poignance in the women, especially in Lamarr’s hurt Marvin and Ruth Hussey’s complacent wife, who carries the last scene with a disarming plea for her husband.

American Romance was meant to be Vidor’s epic statement of his themes. He worked on it for years, and was promised Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman for the lead roles. Alas, he was eventually saddled with Brian Donlevy and Ann Richards, supporting players of limited range and appeal. More importantly, 20 minutes were cut from the running time by MGM, and Vidor found the cuts to be harmful and indiscriminate. What’s left of the movie is a flawed but very impressive account of one man’s rise up the ladder, beginning as an immigrant who can’t speak English and ending as a tycoon making airplanes on an assembly line, with stops at iron and auto production in between. The monstrous energy of this man is viewed without much leavening, and a lot of the positive philosophy doled out in the movie is simplistic and mawkish, even offensive, but American Romance is one of those broken films that gropes compellingly for ultimate answers. It remains Vidor’s most concentrated attempt at dramatising the galvanising power that leads a man to work and get ahead.

Duel in the Sun

Vidor’s remaining movies are often bewildering primitive melodramas that increasingly focus on the plight of women. Pearl Chavez (Jennifer Jones) is a mixed race beauty trapped in a racist world in Duel in the Sun, and she’s also trapped by the obsessive attentions of the film’s producer, David Selznick. The movie is more Selznick than Vidor, who finally walked off the set in frustration at the impresario’s compulsive suggestions, but the attention to lurid colour and Pearl’s famous final crawl over the rocks feels like this director’s handiwork. A later collaboration with Jones, Ruby Gentry, works much better because Vidor had full control of the movie. It’s pure and stark in black and white, and a few moments of wrangling between Jones’ Ruby and Charlton Heston’s withholding Boake is sexier than all of Duel’s heavy breathing.

Ruby Gentry is a harsh film infused with romantic longing, underscored by a melancholy harmonica score. Ruby is Vidor’s most touching heroine, the healthiest (and sexiest) of his female misfits, a woman who takes control of her own destiny, battling both Boake and her Bible-spouting brother and finding some peace in the end. As a religious person, Vidor stages wholly convincing answered prayers in Our Daily Bread and Northwest Passage (1940), but as an older artist he fills in his canvas with Walter Huston’s clearly horny, hypocritical preacher in Duel in the Sun and Ruby’s deranged, bizarre sibling, who seems to be in love with his sister. Notice, too, how the minor characters in Vidor’s late films start to become weirder, lonelier and more eccentric. In his last movies, he did make growth in many human areas as he simplified his visuals even further.

Beyond the Forest (1949) is certainly the most unheralded of Vidor’s major films, mainly because everyone involved with it, especially its vitriolic star, Bette Davis, kept badmouthing it for years. In Loyalton, Wisconsin, a sawmill pumps out smoke daily, which drives anti-heroine Rosa Moline (Davis) crazy. Dissatisfied, sexually deprived, she shoots a porcupine right out of a tree just for fun. There’s a dark Faulknerian tone to the backwoods goings-on, and Davis dominates the film with her exhilarating negativity, her pride and loser’s fury. Vidor doesn’t like her “good” husband (Joseph Cotten), who proudly proclaims his mediocrity, and he seems increasingly intrigued by the gorgon-like Rosa, who doesn’t belong in Loyalton but looks hopelessly gauche in a big city, Chicago, where she runs away to be with her lover and winds up humiliated.

Beyond the Forest

She keeps shouting, “I’m Rosa Moline!”, not realising that she’s using her husband’s name. When she gets pregnant by her spouse, she says, “Now I’m like all the rest”, quietly, mordantly, with the true horror of a Vidor man who had wanted to achieve big things. Anyone who complains that Davis overplays in Beyond the Forest isn’t really looking at what she’s doing closely enough: in a scene like this, she couldn’t be smaller or more realistic, and her outsized fury is entirely justified by the deadening complacency of her small-town American milieu. Rosa begins to unravel, committing murder and throwing herself down a ravine to abort her child. Dying from peritonitis, she’s superb in her defiance when she shouts at her husband, “So you finally have the guts to hate me! Well, congratulations, it’ll make a new man of you!” Pursuing her dream to the end, she makes a dedicated crawl to the phallic train out of town, and is only stopped by death. Beyond the Forest is a richly bothersome, risky film about unappeasable desires and rebellious nihilism. It is certainly the best-directed Bette Davis movie and still in need of extensive retrospective rehabilitation.

Presented with a script for Ayn Rand’s cartoonish bestseller The Fountainhead, Vidor fashioned a broad, relentless portrait of one man’s struggle against the crowd, deepened by Gary Cooper’s sensitive doubts and Patricia Neal’s campy authority. (The two actors fell in love during the shooting, which comes across on screen.) It’s filmed like a silent movie, and as Rand’s ludicrous dialogue keeps coming at you at an unmodulated volume, you start to wish that it was. The selfishness of unrestrained capitalism is revealed: when the hero says he doesn’t care what the masses think, he really means he doesn’t care what the masses do to survive. The whole thing is a silly stacked deck filled with crude, vague ideas, and it cannot be said that Vidor entirely overcomes the problems of the source material. But in its enormous, arid set design, its obsession with an individual’s rights and its erotic suggestiveness, The Fountainhead is a film that exemplifies Vidor’s “mind over matter” outlook perfectly. The audacious ending, where Neal ascends an enormous skyscraper up into Cooper’s crotch, is a dirty joke that feels like a triumph when set as the climax of Vidor’s career. It brings together his fever for making things, his sexual abandon and his will to meet God half way into a single, appropriately on-the-nose image.

Vidor ended his career with two not-negligible epics, War and Peace and Solomon and Sheba (1959). The Tolstoy adaptation feels like a soap opera for long stretches, and an entirely dubbed soundtrack creates a sense of dull distance. It really founders on the crucial miscasting of the male leads, but Audrey Hepburn’s perfect Natasha is diverting, and it comes alive in the last half hour, as French soldiers work against the elements to get out of Russia. Solomon and Sheba, which Vidor disliked, is a fetching, sexy Biblical epic, unworthy of the director, but transfigured by an astounding sequence where soldiers shine sunlight off of their shields to blind an advancing army so badly that they all plummet off of a cliff.

It’s striking moments like this in the midst of more prosaic scenes that led Andrew Sarris to proclaim Vidor “a director for anthologies” who “created more great moments and fewer great films than any director of his rank.” It’s true that autocratic control was not Vidor’s way: he liked to hold a film loosely, unless he was making “silent music” with the editing of key sequences. Yet what movie is a more focused tragedy than The Crowd? It’s in the accumulation of moments both big and small that Vidor made his mark. We don’t forget the sun shining on those shields, but we also won’t forget the sand landing on top of Mary’s cake in The Crowd.

In 1964, Vidor made Truth and Illusion: An Introduction to Metaphysics, a short film in 16 mm where he expounded directly on his view that man is God and mind is all. He answers that old question, “When a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound if no one hears it?” with a resounding no, and maintains that a fake multiplication table would be evil. Vidor insisted that we have complete control over our own consciousness and we can’t blame anyone or anything for our feelings, which can be changed through a (simple?) act of will. This short shows Vidor’s intellect expressing itself as clearly as possible, and it is very valuable as a summation of most of his themes. Before his death, he looked into the murder of Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor, tried to make a movie about James Murray, and acted in James Toback’s Love and Money (1982). In his lifetime, he was acclaimed and attended retrospectives of his work, but his reputation is not as high as it once was. Maybe that’s because his films are both too simple and too sophisticated for easy digestion. In his autobiography, A Tree is a Tree (1953), he states his case in a nutshell:

I believe that every one of us knows that his major job on earth is to make some contribution, no matter how small, to this inexorable movement of human progress. The march of man, as I see it, is not from the cradle to the grave. It is instead, from the animal or physical to the spiritual. The airplane, the atom bomb, radio, radar, television are all evidences of the urge to overcome the limitations of the physical in favor of the freedom of the spirit. Man, whether he is conscious of it or not, knows deep inside that he has a definite upward mission to perform during the time of his life span. He knows that the purpose of his life cannot be stated in terms of ultimate oblivion.

I would like to thank Charles Silver at Moma for screening Peg O’ My Heart, His Hour and American Romance. And I would like to especially thank Tag Gallagher, a passionate champion of Vidor’s work, who has kindly allowed me to use his comprehensive bio-bibliography of the director for this piece. I would also like to thank Mr Gallagher for making me copies of Billy the Kid, Texas Rangers, Japanese War Bride, and especially the essential late films Truth and Illusion: An Introduction to Metaphysics and Metaphor.

King Vidor

Filmography

The Turn in the Road (1919)

Better Times (1919)

The Other Half (1919)

Poor Relations (1919)

The Jack-Knife Man (1920)

The Family Honor (1920)

The Sky Pilot (1921)

Love Never Dies (1921)

Conquering the Woman (1922)

Woman, Wake Up (1922)

The Real Adventure (1922)

Dusk to Dawn (1922)

Peg o’ My Heart (1923)

The Woman of Bronze (1923)

Three Wise Fools (1923)

Wild Oranges (1924)

Happiness (1924)

Wine of Youth (1924)

His Hour (1924)

Wife of the Centaur (1924)

Proud Flesh (1925)

The Big Parade (1925)

La Boheme (1926)

Bardelys the Magnificent (1926)

The Crowd (1928)

The Patsy (1928)

Show People (1928)

Hallelujah (1929)

Not So Dumb (1930)

Billy the Kid (1930)

Street Scene (1931)

The Champ (1931)

Bird of Paradise (1932)

Cynara (1932)

Stranger’s Return (1933)

Our Daily Bread (1934)

Wedding Night (1935)

So Red the Rose (1935)

The Texas Rangers (1936)

Stella Dallas (1937)

The Citadel (1938)

Northwest Passage (1940)

Comrade X (1940)

H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941)

American Romance (1944)

Duel in the Sun (1946)

A Miracle Can Happen/On Our Merry Way (co-directed with Leslie Fenton) (1948)

The Fountainhead (1949)

Beyond the Forest (1949)

Lightning Strikes Twice (1951)

Japanese War Bride (1952)

Ruby Gentry (1952)

Man Without a Star (1955)

War and Peace (1956)

Solomon and Sheba (1959)

Truth and Illusion: An Introduction to Metaphysics (1964) short

Metaphor (1980) short

Select Bibliography

The best resource is undoubtedly Tag Gallagher’s Biocritical-Filmography, available here

Web Resources

Film Directors – Articles on the Internet
Several online articles can be found here.

King Vidor – Films as Director
Brief bio and list of publications.

Click here to buy King Vidor DVDs and videos at Facets

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About The Author

Dan Callahan is a writer based in New York City. He contributes film reviews to Time Out New York, Stage Press and other publications.