Studio Affairs: My Life as a Film Director
As a young Jewish boy growing up in Vienna, Georgia, Abe Orovitz could never have predicted the twists and turns his life would take. Many years later, as retired film director with more than thirty movies to his credit, Vincent Sherman is no less surprised when he looks back on that life.
In Studio Affairs he retraces his life with candor and enthusiasm. Sherman discusses the details of his three-year relationship with Joan Crawford, his inadvertent connection with the death of Bette Davis's second husband, and his poignant romantic involvement with Rita Hayworth. Providing counterpoint to these liaisons is the love and devotion of Sherman's wife, Hedda, who accepted her husband's occasional infidelities as part and parcel of his career.
Studio Affairs provides an inside look at the motion picture industry during the heyday of the studio system by one who worked his way from nearly starving actor and playwright to respected director. In effect, the book serves as a primer on the art of film directing. Sherman quickly developed a reputation of being a consummate rewrite artist, able to take whatever assignment given him and turn it into a first rate motion picture. His skill at reworked scripts led him to bigger and bigger projects, even as the salary set by his long-term contract with Warner Brothers remained below that of most of his colleagues. Though not originally signed to direct, when asked to do so he drew on his experience putting together productions at summer camps across the "borscht circuit" in upstate New York.
Like so many talented individuals in Hollywood during the 1950s, Sherman was targeted by the House Un-American Activities Committee, owing in part to his active support of the WPA Theatre project in New York two decades previous. Time spent on the lesser known gray list kept him out of work for several years. Eventually, he again enjoyed some critical success, but after the demise of the studio system life was never quite the same. The quintessential "studio director" ended his career directing for television. Vincent Sherman's path from Georgia to southern California is compelling, and his legendary talent for good storytelling makes the book impossible to put down.
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