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Goldwyn & Milestone

Like many pragmatic directors, Lewis Milestone had several memorable arguments with the famously illogical producer Samuel Goldwyn. One day during the production of The North Star (1943), Goldwyn called Milestone into his office intending to embarrass him in front of a studio employee. He started off the meeting by accusing Milestone of tampering with Lillian Hellman's script. Then, when the director attempted to defend himself, Goldwyn began shouting and pounding upon his desk. After enduring several minutes of abuse, Milestone finally exploded: "If my work is so terrible," he exclaimed, "why don't you fire me!" Goldwyn, hardly expecting this turn of events, promptly refused: "No!" he cried, "I won't fire you!" "Go ahead! Fire me!" Milestone insisted. "I'm sick and tired of this!" "No!" Goldwyn replied, equally steadfast. "I won't and that's final!" Milestone, understandably infuriated, turned and stormed out. The shaken studio employee then rose to leave, and was surprised to have Goldwyn turn to him with a wide self-satisfied grin, and declare: "I told him, didn't I?"

[On another occasion, Goldwyn visited the set of The Hurricane (1937) to ask director John Ford to add more close-ups of Dorothy Lamour and Jon Hall. "Now, I'll tell you, Mr. Goldwyn, I'm making this picture the way I feel it should go," Ford replied. "If I want a close-up this big," he said, striking Goldwyn in the stomach with the back of his hand, "I'll make 'em that big. Or if I want 'em this big" -- here he struck him in the chest -- "they'll be this big." Then, clenching his fist, he continued, "I might want them even bigger!" Goldwyn turned to his companion as they left the set: "Well, anyway," he declared, "I put it in his mind."]

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