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For the Arkansas lawyer and judge Victor A. Fleming, see Vic Fleming.
Victor Fleming
Born February 23, 1889(1889-02-23)
Pasadena, California, U.S.
Died January 6, 1949 (aged 59)
Cottonwood, Arizona, U.S.
Years active 1910–1949
Spouse(s) Lucile Rosson (1933-1949)

Victor Fleming (February 23, 1889 – January 6, 1949) (sometimes "Vic Fleming") was an Academy Award-winning American film director, cinematographer, and producer. His most popular films were The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Gone with the Wind (1939), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Director.

Contents

Overview

Victor Fleming was born in Pasadena, California, possibly of part Native American descent and showed a mechanical aptitude early on; while working as a car mechanic he met the director Allan Dwan, who took him on as a camera assistant. Given his aptitude, he developed an interest in airplanes, and for his movies got to know the men at Rogers Airport, Los Angeles, including Moye Stephens. Fleming soon rose to the rank of cinematographer, working with both Dwan and D. W. Griffith, and directed his first film in 1919.

Many of Fleming's silent films were action movies, often starring Douglas Fairbanks, or Westerns, and with his robust attitude and love of outdoor sports he became known as a "man's director". But he also proved an effective director of women. Under his direction, Vivien Leigh won the Best Actress Oscar, Hattie McDaniel won for Best Supporting Actress, and Ingrid Bergman was nominated. (In fact, nine actors who appeared in films directed by Fleming were Oscar-nominated.)

MGM

In 1932 Fleming joined MGM and directed some of the studio's most prestigious films. Red Dust (1932), Bombshell (1933), and Reckless (1935) showcased Jean Harlow, while Treasure Island (1934) and Captains Courageous (1937) brought a touch of literary distinction to boy's-own adventure stories. His two most famous films came in 1939, when The Wizard of Oz was closely followed by Gone with the Wind. Their fame has outstripped that of their credited director. Both were essentially producer-led projects, and in each case Fleming replaced the original directors after filming had begun, although he alone received director credit on both (he replaced Richard Thorpe on The Wizard of Oz after George Cukor had briefly come in and altered some of the makeup. Cukor's alterations remained in the film, and, by coincidence, it was Cukor whom Fleming replaced on Gone With the Wind. ) Fleming's version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), with Spencer Tracy, was generally rated below Rouben Mamoulian's 1931 version with Fredric March. Fleming's 1942 film version of John Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat, starring Spencer Tracy, John Garfield, Hedy Lamarr, and Frank Morgan, was considered quite excellent, though, and to this day remains the only film version of the book.

Fleming's few remaining films were disappointing to some, and he died quite suddenly from a heart attack soon after completing Joan of Arc (1948) with Ingrid Bergman. It was one of the few films that he did not make for MGM. Despite mixed reviews, Fleming's film version of the life of Joan received seven Academy Award nominations, winning two Oscars. In recent years, it has been restored to its full-length of 145 minutes, causing a more positive re-evaluation of the film based on the complete version.

Filmography as Director (Partial)

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