Ironically, Sue Mengers, born in Hamburg, has the pushiness, love of power and even the vulgarity that characterized those immigrant moguls who created the Golden Age of Hollywood.
But these, on the whole, crude and little educated men, loved movies. One senses that Mengers likes movies, and knows something about them. But she loves deal making more. And the one-time power broker is clearly enamored of her own persona.
Mengers remarked that Irving Thalberg would have “a big adjustment” to make if he were alive in Hollywood today because he could not control talent like Steven Spielberg. But Thalberg, when production chief at MGM, gave King Vidor the green light to make “The Crowd,” which became a great American classic.
Thalberg explained that the studio could afford to make the picture even if it didn’t make money. The prestige of the film would be good for the studio, he said. Thalberg loved the story, he loved the movie. In fact, Thalberg took many chances on movies that the deal-makers such as Mengers wouldn’t pick up the phone for today.
For Mengers, and the agents who arguably are as powerful today as the Thalbergs were in their time, the deal is the thing. Often to the detriment of the film.
Isn’t it time that Hollywood got back to loving and making movies, not deals?