Victor Fleming (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 07, 2022

Victor Fleming has the amazing record of being associated with the picture business more than twenty-five years, and more than half of that time as an “ace” director.

He was born in Pasadena, just a stone’s throw from Hollywood, on February 23. Educated in the public schools of Los Angeles, he determined to become a racing driver. He did drive in a few races, but before he established a reputation or broke his neck, he became interested in photography.

The movies were just then invading California. In 1910 Fleming went to Santa Barbara and landed a job as photographer with the old American Studios. He did camera work for Kahn, Griffith, Fine Arts and others of the pioneer companies, working his way towards a director’s berth.

Abroad With Wilson

With the outbreak of the war, he promptly enlisted and became a first lieutenant of the United States Army Signal Corps. He did meritorious work for the intelligence department, and after the war went to Europe again as chief photographer for President Woodrow Wilson and the peace mission.

But in 1919 he was back in Hollywood determined to direct motion pictures. Through a contact with Allan Dwan, he succeeded. The first picture he made starred Douglas Fairbanks, and from that time on he was established in the industry.

Did “Courageous”

Among the hits directed by Fleming are “Red Hot Romance,” “Way of All Flesh,” “The Virginian,” Common Clay“Abie’s Irish Rose,” “Wolf Song,” “The Awakening,” “The Rough Riders,” “Renegades,” Around the World in 80 Minutes“Adventure,” “Lord Jim,” “The Blind Goddess,” “Empty Hands,” “The Wet Parade,” The White Sister, “Blonde Bombshell,” Treasure IslandReckless, “The Farmer Takes a Wife” and M-G-M’s picturization of Rudyard Kipling’s classic of the Gloucester fishermen, Captains Courageous, with Freddie Bartholomew, Spencer Tracy, Lionel Barrymore and Melvyn Douglas teamed in the leading roles. His next assignment was Test Pilot, co-starring Clark Gable, Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy.

Married and with two young daughters, the second of whom was born on the same day that “Captains Courageous” completed its shooting schedule, Fleming is very much of a family man, spending all his spare time either on his ranch at Rancho Santa Fe or at his beach home at Balboa. An experienced and enthusiastic flyer, he recently bought a new cabin plane which, with ranching, provides his chief hobby. He likes golf, riding, fishing and tennis, and never misses a good stage production, but principally he remains true to the virile outdoor amusements that give outlets to his robust vitality. This phase of his character has been reflected consistently in his work.

17 Months in Making

Standing better than six feet tall, and with the build of an athlete, Fleming is a quiet-spoken, unhurried gentleman who gets the utmost out of his performers by infinite patience and good humor, as is perhaps best illustrated by his work on “Captains Courageous,” which, seventeen months in the making, has been hailed as one of the outstanding achievements of the screen.

The making of “Captains Courageous,” as must be evident to all who see it, was no cinch. The direction was a job for a real he-man, and it speaks volumes for Fleming’s tact and for his place in the affections of those who work with him, that the picture came through with the minimum of friction, in spite of the many difficulties encountered.

Source: Who’s Who at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1937