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بیوگرافی / زندگینامه Henry King
For more than three decades, Henry King was the most versatile and reliable (not to mention hard-working) contract director on the 20th Century-Fox lot. His tenure lasted from 1930 to 1961, spanning most of Hollywood's "golden" era. King was renowned as a specialist in literary adaptations (A Bell for Adano (1945), The Sun Also Rises (1957)) and for his nostalgic depictions of rural or small-town America (Margie (1946)). Much of his work was characterized by an uncomplicated approach and a vivid visual style rather than cinematic tricks or technical individuality. For the most part it was his meticulous attention to detail, and his reliance on superior plots and good acting, that got the job done. King was, above all, an astute judge of talent. He introduced Ronald Colman to American audiences in The White Sister (1923), drawing a mustache on the actor's clean-shaven face with a retouching pencil--the real thing later becoming a Colman trademark. King discovered Gary Cooper and cast him in a leading dramatic role in his outdoor western The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926), over the initial objections of producer Samuel Goldwyn who thought Coop was just another "damn cowboy". Goldwyn quickly changed his mind after seeing the rushes. Other King discoveries included the lovely Jean Peters (in Captain from Castile (1947)) and Tyrone Power, whom he actively promoted to the point of badgering studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck to star him in Lloyd's of London (1936). Power subsequently became one of Fox's most popular stars.All in all, not bad for a guy who had left school at 15 to work for the Norfolk & Western Railroad. After enduring the machine shops for a few years, King found more suitable employment as an apprentice actor with the touring Empire Stock Company, where he often performed song-and-dance routines in blackface. During his travels he befriended comedy actress Pearl White. While accompanying her on a visit to the Lubin film studio in Philadelphia in 1913, he was somehow talked into trying out as an actor. Before long King found himself cast as assorted western villains in scores of one-reelers. Moving to California the following year, he graduated to romantic leads in full-length feature films with the Balboa Amusement Company, often co-starring opposite popular child actress Marie Osborne. King's directing career began in 1915 and gathered momentum after he joined The American Film Manufacturing Company, and, subsequently, Thomas H. Ince. His first success was the army comedy 23 1/2 Hours' Leave (1919). By 1921 King fronted his own production company, Inspiration Pictures, releasing through First National. The rustic southern drama Tol'able David (1921) was his next critically acclaimed picture, but not until joining Goldwyn at United Artists (1925-30) did he manage to turn out a consistent string of hits, including The White Sister (1923) and Romola (1924)--both shot on location in Italy--and the archetypal tearjerker Stella Dallas (1925). For King, the transition to sound pictures was a mere formality.In 1930 King qualified for his pilot's license and began busily scouting locations from the air, earning him the sobriquet "The Flying Director". When not airborne or on the golf course (his other passion), he demonstrated his amazing versatility with box-office hits across a wide variety of genres: striking and colorful swashbucklers (The Black Swan (1942)); romantic or religious melodramas--their sentimentality well-tempered so they never seemed maudlin--such as (The Song of Bernadette (1943) and Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)); epics (In Old Chicago (1937), with its splendid recreation of the 1871 great fire, the entire enterprise filmed at a staggering cost of $1.8 million); popular musicals (Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938), Carousel (1956)); psychological war drama (Twelve O'Clock High (1949)); and uncompromisingly tough, offbeat westerns (The Gunfighter (1950) and the underrated The Bravados (1958)). The latter three all starred King's preferred leading actor, Gregory Peck. Peck was also on hand for The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952), reputedly Ernest Hemingway's favorite among all his filmed adaptations. Of course, King also had his occasional failures. Topping that list was Zanuck's pet project, the biopic Wilson (1944). Overly serious to the point of being dour, its pacifist message was lost to an audience in the middle of a world war. King's other notable dud, near the end of his career, was Beloved Infidel (1959). Badly miscast, the film chronicling the affair between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hollywood gossip columnist Sheilah Graham was played out, inaccurately, as a genteel and overly glossy romance.Though nominated for five Academy Awards, King failed to snag the coveted trophy. However, he did win a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Directors Guild of America in 1956. More importantly, perhaps, he seems to have enjoyed his work, stating in a 1978 interview, "I've had more fun directing pictures than most people have playing games" (New York Times, July 1 1982).
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