Friday, January 8, 2010

From Alt Film Guide

Like many other Hollywood filmmakers of the studio era, Frank Lloyd (1886-1960) is hardly remembered today despite his numerous box-office successes — e.g., The Sea Hawk (1924), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Wells Fargo (1937) — and no less than two Best Director Academy Awards, for The Divine Lady (1929) and Cavalcade (1933).

With Frank Lloyd: Master of Screen Melodrama (BearManor Media, 2009), author and film historian Anthony Slide rectifies that matter. In his book, which focuses on Lloyd’s most important screen efforts, Tony (we’ve been friends for years) makes it clear that by disregarding Frank Lloyd’s body of work film historians are doing a disservice to Hollywood’s past.

In addition to his two Best Director wins, Lloyd directed two Best Picture Academy Award winners, Cavalcade and Mutiny on the Bounty. (In those early days, there were more Best Picture/Best Director mismatches than matches.) He also helped seven performers earn Academy Award consideration: Corinne Griffith for The Divine Lady (no official nominees were announced that year*); Diana Wynyard for Cavalcade; Leslie Howard for Berkeley Square (1933); the Mutiny on the Bounty trio of Clark Gable, Charles Laughton, and Franchot Tone; and Basil Rathbone in the supporting actor category for If I Were King (1938).

True enough, a Frank Lloyd film may not have the director’s imprint all over it, but that doesn’t make Lloyd’s work any less assured. On the other hand, if by auteurship one means a penchant for a particular theme, than Lloyd should be considered an auteur, as is pointed out in the aptly titled Master of Screen Melodrama.

* Lloyd himself was "considered" for Drag and Weary River, both starring Richard Barthelmess.

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