Sam Wood

Sam Wood

Highest Rated: 100% Kings Row (1942)

Lowest Rated: 60% Madame X (1937)

Birthday: Invalid date

Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

When American director Sam Wood first reported to Cecil B. De Mille as an assistant in 1915, Wood had already dabbled in real estate and acted on-stage under the name of Chad Applegate. A solo director by 1919, Wood worked throughout the '20s directing some of Paramount's biggest stars, among them Gloria Swanson and Wallace Reid. He began his long association with MGM in 1927, working with personalities as varied as Marion Davies, Clark Gable, Marie Dressler, and Jimmy Durante. He guided the Marx Brothers through their two most profitable films, A Night at the Opera (1935) and A Day at the Races (1937), and turned out one of the most accomplished sentimental dramas ever made in Hollywood, Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939). Hopping from studio to studio in the '40s, Wood directed Ginger Rogers through her Oscar-winning performance in Kitty Foyle (1940), successfully transferred Thornton Wilder's highly theatrical Our Town (1940) to the screen (even the studio-imposed happy ending worked), and assembled the quintessential baseball biopic, The Pride of the Yankees (1942). The list of Wood's successes would seem to assure him a niche in the ranks of all-time best Hollywood directors, yet his reputation has tarnished since his death in 1949. Most detractors insist that Wood was a hack, citing his habit of shooting each scene an average of 20 times, his only verbal direction in each instance being "Go out there and sell 'em a load of clams." In truth, this technique was invaluable in wearing down such mannered performers as Walter Brennan, Dan Duryea, Frank Morgan, and Wallace Beery, until they were tired enough to behave like human beings instead of play-actors. The 20-take habit also enabled the more limited actors to re-think their interpretations until they'd found nuances that they would never have considered on the first take: Ronald Reagan, who was certainly no Olivier, was never better than in Wood's Kings Row (1942). Taking into consideration all the complaints about Sam Wood, the biggest bone of contention seems to be his reactionary politics. Wood was active in a number of right-wing organizations, and in 1947 he virulently condemned Hollywood's "left" before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Those whose politics are diametrically opposite to Wood's dwell incessantly upon this aspect of his life, embellishing the facts by painting him as a bigot and (in the words of Groucho Marx) a "fascist." But just as it is fitting and proper to separate the performances of a Jane Fonda, Shirley MacLaine, or Paul Newman from their political agendas, so too would it be fair to extend the same courtesy to Wood. No matter what sort of man Sam Wood was personally, his string of Hollywood hits should be his true legacy.

Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet Ambush Producer Director 1950
86% The Stratton Story Director 1949
No Score Yet Command Decision Director 1948
No Score Yet Ivy Director Executive Producer 1947
No Score Yet Heartbeat Director 1946
No Score Yet Saratoga Trunk Director 1946
No Score Yet Guest Wife Director 1945
No Score Yet Casanova Brown Director 1944
No Score Yet Address Unknown Producer 1944
71% For Whom the Bell Tolls Producer Director 1943
100% Kings Row Director 1942
93% The Pride of the Yankees Director 1942
100% The Devil and Miss Jones Director 1941
80% Kitty Foyle Director 1940
86% Our Town Director 1940
No Score Yet Raffles Director 1939
82% Goodbye, Mr. Chips Director 1939
No Score Yet Lord Jeff Director 1938
No Score Yet Stablemates Director 1938
94% A Day at the Races Producer 1937
No Score Yet Navy Blue and Gold Director 1937
60% Madame X Director 1937
No Score Yet The Unguarded Hour Director 1936
No Score Yet Whipsaw Director 1935
98% A Night at the Opera Director 1935
No Score Yet Let 'em Have It Director 1935
No Score Yet Stamboul Quest Director 1934
No Score Yet Hollywood Party Director 1934
No Score Yet The Barbarian Director Producer 1933
No Score Yet Hold Your Man Director Producer 1933
No Score Yet Christopher Bean Director 1933
No Score Yet Huddle Director Producer 1932
No Score Yet Prosperity Producer Director 1932
No Score Yet New Adventures of Get Rich Quick Wallingford Director 1931
No Score Yet The Man in Possession Producer Director 1931
No Score Yet The Sins of the Children Director Producer 1930
No Score Yet The Girl Said No Producer Director 1930
No Score Yet They Learned About Women Director 1930
No Score Yet Paid Director Producer 1930
No Score Yet It's a Great Life Director Producer 1930
No Score Yet So This Is College Director Producer 1929
86% Beyond the Rocks Director 1922
No Score Yet The Impossible Mrs. Bellew Director 1922
No Score Yet Peck's Bad Boy Director Screenwriter 1921
No Score Yet Double Speed Director 1920
No Score Yet The Little American Actor 1917


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