Not counting directors who produced and studio executives, who was/were the greatest film producers of all time?
The Mitchell Brothers
Dino De Laurentiis
After being forced out of his company, Samuel Goldwyn became a great independent producer.
The greatest films whose results were due more to the producer’s vision than the director’s would have to be Producer Val Lewton’s collaborations with Jacques Tourneur (I Walked with a Zombie, Cat People and his collaborations with Robert Wise (Curse of the Cat People, The Body Snatcher).
Well, that eliminates David O. Selznick and Irving Thalberg, arguably the two greatest film producers ever.
Yeah – it’s your thread GQ, but I’m genuinely curious – why exclude the suits?
Lewton’s a great choice, and his collaborations with Mark Robson (The Seventh Victim, Bedlam) are well worth mentioning.
Some other good candidates:
David Selznick, who, after setting up his own independent production company (Selznick International) was responsible for bringing the world Rebecca (Hitchcock’s first American film), Intermezzo (Ingrid Bergman’s first American film), The Prisoner of Zenda, Nothing Sacred, A Star Is Born, Portrait of Jennie and, of course, GWTW. This doesn’t include the films he oversaw while at MGM, RKO, and Paramount.
I’d also like to mention Roger Corman. Did he actually make good movies? Sure, some: Cockfighter, The Shooting, Little Shop of Horrors, Saint Jack for starters. Plus, he was responsible for some important iconic films: the Poe/Price horror series, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, The Trip, The Wild Angels, Caged Heat, Death Race 2000.
But most importantly, he created an on-the-cheap production model that started the careers of some very important people in the industry: Coppola, Scorsese, Bogdanovich, Demme, Nicholson, Joe Dante, Jim Cameron, John Sayles, Ron Howard (as director).
He also started New World Pictures, which was arguably the most important distributor of foreign films in the 1970s: Amarcord (Fellini), * Dersu Uzala* (Kurosawa), * The Story of Adele H* (Truffaut), * Autumn Sonata* (Bergman), * The Tin Drum, Breaker Morant, Fitzcarraldo* all saw the light of day in the US because of Corman.
As a producer, he also revolutionized marketing and distribution in targeting a largely untapped, but not critical, demographic: the Youth audience. Nobody ever exploited this market (and thus proving their importance in the grand b.o. scheme) than he.
David O. Selznick (Gone With the Wind, Rebecca, A Star Is Born, Anna Karenina).
Sam Spiegel didn’t produce many movies, but a high percentage of them were classics (African Queen, On the Waterfront, Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia)
Sorry, the should read
Corman also was hugely important in the horror genre, not only with the Price/Poe films and the stuff he directed (including Bucket of Blood), but he also helped garner additional attention to early talents like Larry Cohen & David Cronenberg.
Archive, I’d forgotten that The Seventh Victim was his, and I have Bedlam sitting on top of my VCR because the tape, rented at great expense from the other side of the country, is farked up and won’t play for me.
The Guv won’t be able to get back onto the Board today, so he just e’d me regarding his OP: “In my Best Producer thread, by studio executives, I wasn’t trying to eliminate the producers hired by studios (such as Thalberg or Wallis), but, rather, the heads of studios (such as Jack Warner), whose producer credits tended to be prefaced by the word executive. This is becuase I’m planning on discussing them later.”