Edmund Goulding born 20 March 1891 (d. 1959)
Edmund Goulding was a film director. He was born in Feltham, Middlesex, England.
The son of a butcher, Goulding began acting in amateur theatricals and by 1909 began appearing on the West End in productions such as Gentlemen, The King (1909), Alice in Wonderland (1909), and a notorious presentation of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1913), adapted for the stage by G Constant Lounsbery.
Goulding served in World War I, then immigrated to the United States to become a singer. He was a fine ideas man, and could crank out a silent screen scenario very quickly. His writing talents were in demand by producers at Paramount and Famous Players Lasky, and so his singing aspirations were shelved. He wrote for several early film stars, and met his greatest success as co-author of Henry King's Tol'able David, a 1921 silent masterpiece.
Goulding directed Joan Crawford in her first substantial role, in Sally, Irene and Mary (1925), and Greta Garbo and John Gilbert in the smash hit Love (1927), before writing the script for Broadway Melody (1929), the first film musical.
Goulding directed Gloria Swanson in her first talkie, The Trespasser (1929). However, his greatest triumph came as director of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Grand Hotel, winner of the 1932 Academy Award as Best Picture and granddaddy of the all-star ensemble story format.
Goulding moved to Warner Brothers in 1937, where he directed some of his best movies: Dawn Patrol (1938), White Banners (1938), and four outstanding melodramas with Bette Davis: That Certain Woman (1937), Dark Victory [pictured](1939), The Old Maid (1939), and The Great Lie (1941).
The Constant Nymph (1943) with Joan Fontaine, Claudia (1943) with Dorothy McGuire, and Of Human Bondage (1946) with Eleanor Parker were further testimonies to Goulding's adept direction of actresses.
After World War II, Goulding was hired at Twentieth Century Fox and made two excellent movies of starkly contrasting themes: The Razor's Edge (1946), based on a novel by Somerset Maugham, and the noir thriller Nightmare Alley (1947), both featuring Tyrone Power at his best.
Goulding's output after that was uneven. His last movie was Mardi Gras (1958), a dismissable musical starring Pat Boone.
By then, the man who directed the great stars of early moviedom was old, tired, and alcoholic.
Goulding's style as a director is distinguished by brisk pacing and an ability to elicit honest emotion from his players. He mastered a number of genres - comedy, romance, musicals, noir, and the war picture - and he adapted well to the personnel and conditions of each studio for which he worked.
There is a paradox to Goulding. His sensitivity to women's emotions brought him enduring success, as witnessed by his swooning melodramas, but his private life tells a different story. Goulding was bisexual, with a decided taste for promiscuity and voyeurism. His sex parties and casting couch were notorious.
A 2004 biography of Goulding, Edmund Goulding's Dark Victory by Matthew Kennedy says that it was widely known in Hollywood that Goulding was bisexual, and hosted wild parties for all persuasions.
But he cannot be dismissed simply as a sex addict or sexual exploiter. For every excoriation of his morals, there are accounts of his loyalty to friends, generosity to family, gentlemanly manner on the set, and preternatural ability to bring out the best in his actors.
He never had a long lasting romance. A marriage to dancer Marjorie Moss ended quickly with her premature death from tuberculosis. He maintained brief love affairs with younger men and women throughout his life, but either did not want or proved unable to sustain a long term relationship.
The real romance in Edmund Goulding's life is found in his movies.
He died following surgery at Cedars of Lebanon Medical Center in Los Angeles, California in 1959, although there are sources that say he committed suicide.
Edmund Goulding: Q&A with biographer Matthew Kennedy
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