<-- Clara Bow on Fleming: "Of all the men I've known, there was a man."
For instance, I knew that Vivien Leigh didn't like Fleming and was angry that George Cukor who worked with her closely on her performance was fired. But I had no idea how complex and influential Fleming's relationships to Hollywood's top actors (Gable prominent among them) and actresses actually were (nor what an actressexual -- ok womanizer but we're splitting hairs here -- Fleming was. He had affairs with Clara Bow, Norma Shearer, Lupe Velez and Ingrid Bergman among others). This is but one of many quotes worth sharing.
"Despite his later reputation as a ‘man’s director,’ ” Sragow says, “Fleming launched or cannily revamped a host of female stars from the 1920s on.” The hot-wired Bow did her sexiest, best work for him, in “Mantrap” (1926), and he got sensationally funny performances out of Jean Harlow in “Red Dust,” “Bombshell” (1933), and “Reckless” (1935). The sacred male companionships of seventy years ago did not have the effect of downgrading women—anything but. Fleming, along with his friend Hawks, created women onscreen who were resourceful, strong-willed, and sexual—the kind of women they wanted to hang out with, partners and equals who gave as good as they got. For a while, they, too, were an American ideal.
Gone With the Wind gets the most time in the article. It's a great read and now I think I'll have to look into Victor Fleming: An American Movie Master as well since this essay references that work frequently.