Good as Goldwyn

"They designed an entire solar system in just six seconds. It took God six days, if you believe the Old Testament."

—Gene Roddenberry in an interview

"It's not his life, it's a fairy story," wrote John Dos Passos of the life of Sam Goldwyn in a documentary section of Mid-Century (1961). Even though Dos Passos had to depend almost entirely on canned "facts" and public relations handouts, together with an extended personal interview, his little seven-page section, "The Promised Land (old style)," manages to say more, more truly and deeply, than A. Scott Berg's massive (580 pages), much-promoted, widely advertised, and extensively reviewed Goldwyn: A Biography. But the comparison and contrast is not quite fair. Dos Passos was a major writer. You don't read Berg for the fine writing or for the refinement and depth of his perceptions; you read him for information he has gained and gleaned from years of honorable hard labor and for his undeniable knack at organizing and refining a heap of factual raw materials into some cumulative and chronological patterns. Dos Passos was dead right, though. The life of Schmuel Gelbfisz of Warsaw, Poland, who became Samuel Goldfish in Birmingham, England, and finally, in America, the one and only Samuel Goldwyn, can justly be taken as an old-fashioned...

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