An American Romance. 1944. USA. Directed by King Vidor. 121 min.
Screenplay by Herbert Dalmas, William Ludwig. With Brian Donlevy, Ann Richards, Walter Abel. Under King Vidor’s muscular direction, this sweeping story of a Czech immigrant iron worker turned American success story achieves a kind of epic grandeur that stands it alongside his other great achievements, The Big Parade and Our Daily Bread (“My three big themes were war, wheat, and steel,” he later observed). Though the film was subjected by MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer to extensive re-edits, Vidor’s documentary ambitions remain strikingly intact, particularly in his poetic montages of “iron mining, the production of steel, the manufacture of automobiles, and the fabrication of four-engined bombers”: the massive wartime effort as a giant colossus of man and machine, leading to the triumph of American capitalism. 35mm print from George Eastman House; courtesy Warner Bros.