• U.S.

Cinema: Giant Step

2 minute read

Since he quit producing Hollywood movies in 1949 because movieland had become “an assembly-line operation,” Producer David Oliver (Gone With the Wind) Selznick has made several abortive moves toward regaining his old position as the Goliath of U.S. filmland. Last week Selznick took a giant step in that direction: he signed a three-year contract with RKO Radio Pictures for a series of top-quality movies to be produced by the Selznick Co., Inc. at RKO expense. And the word was quietly passed that if all went well, Dave Selznick would eventually take charge of all RKO’s movie and TV projects.

The tie-up was clearly calculated to help revive ailing RKO, which was bought in July for $25 million by General Teleradio, a subsidiary of Akron’s General Tire and Rubber Co. And who could better calculate that Selznick’s movie-making talents might turn the trick than new RKO President Daniel T. O’Shea and new Executive Vice President Charles Glett, both Selznick alumni?

To re-establish itself in the movie business, RKO will redistribute a list of old, sure money-making Selznick productions (Rebecca, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer), push them with nationwide TV promotion and ad campaigns. Selznick will produce at least one picture a year for RKO (he expects to start three this winter), and serve as executive producer of the others. As soon as he gets RKO’s pictures under way, he plans to begin producing movies specifically for TV. Presumably General Teleradio will get first crack at them.

Selznick grandly announced his plan to use TV and film to create new stars, “Just like I did before with Gregory Peck, Vivien Leigh, Ingrid Bergman, Jennifer Jones, Joseph Gotten and others.” But, lest anyone got the idea that he was playing second fiddle to anybody, he added a typical Selznick postscript: “I’m concerned with the building of the Selznick Co., not with RKO primarily . . . I’ll be working on a program of production for the Selznick Co. to establish it as an important producing factor in the motion-picture industry.”

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