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This story first appeared in the Jan. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
As the son of film mogul Samuel Goldwyn (the co-founder of Paramount whose Goldwyn Films became the G in MGM), Samuel Goldwyn Jr. grew up the quintessential child of Old Hollywood. And like his father, Goldwyn Jr. carved out a career as a producer beginning with the 1955 hit Western Man With the Gun starring Robert Mitchum. But to forge his own identity, he decided to try his hand at directing, something his father had never done.
The film was 1964’s The Young Lovers. This was not a prestige production of the sort that won his father Oscars. The MGM feature focused on college students having premarital sex and did not shy away from using teenage promiscuity to sell the picture. The film did decent business, but in its review, The Hollywood Reporter basically told the 38-year-old Goldwyn to keep his day job: “The direction is not wholly satisfactory, so the picture is not either,” wrote THR. This would be Goldwyn’s one and only outing as a director. He returned to producing and became “The Godfather of American independent film,” in the words of TriStar Productions chairman Tom Rothman, who once oversaw production for the Samuel Goldwyn Co.
Later in life, Goldwyn produced everything from Mystic Pizza starring Julia Roberts and 2004 Oscar nominee Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World to TV’s American Gladiators, which he joked was proof “that I’m not just hanging out at Croatian film festivals.” He also played a key part in advancing the careers of Kenneth Branagh, Stephen Frears and Anthony Minghella. “He championed the breakthrough of countless independent films,” Rothman tells THR. “He had an impeccable eye for the exceptional.” Goldwyn, who died Jan. 9 at 88, was married three times and had six children, four of whom (Scandal‘s Tony, former Paramount exec John, filmmaker Liz and Samuel Goldwyn Films exec Peter) became third-generation Goldwyns in show business.
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