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The profile of film director Victor Fleming

Updated on March 7, 2015

Victor Fleming was a Producer, Director, Cinematographer and for a brief time a stunt driver in films. The Wizard Of Oz and Gone With The Wind, are two films that Fleming won Academy Awards for Best Director. Fleming is one of few directors to hold two films in Amerca’s top one hundred greatest films of all time.


Born on the 23 February 1889, in La Canda, California, his parents were Elizabeth Evaleen and William Fleming. Fleming’s first job was as a car mechanic and professional racing car driver; he also managed to appear in films as a stunt driver. Fleming’s ability for repairing cars was noticed by film director Dwan Allen who offered him a job after repairing his car. At the same time, he also befriended film actor Marshall Neilan whom he met while he was working as his chauffeur. In 1912, Fleming had been working in Santa Barbra in Flying studio A as a stunt driver. Three years later he met Douglas Fairbanks while still working with Neilan and Dwan. His collaboration with Fairbanks at Triangle studios meant that he was working behind the camera. With several other cameramen, he filmed Habit of Happiness about a businessman who with little ability succeeds because of his good humour. In 1916, he was assigned to work with film director D.W. Griffiths in his silent film Intolerance. It wasn’t long before Griffiths promoted him to a supervisory cameraman at Artcraft Pictures.

When America entered the First World War, Fleming was drafted into the American army, in the photographic division of the signal corps. Eventually, he reached the position of personal photographer to President Woodrow Wilson, in Versailles, France.

After the war, Fleming started working at the recently created United Artists studio alongside Fairbanks. In 1919, he directed his first film When the Clouds Roll By, about Daniel Brown a New York citizen who falls victim to a mad scientist's experiment. In 1925, Fleming’s breakthrough film came when he directed the film Lord Jim. His next film Mantrap was released the following year, which he casted actress Clara Bow who became a film star. In 1927, The Way Of All Flesh was Fleming’s first film which featured sound for the very first time. At MGM, rising film star Clark Gable was given the part in the film Red Dust which was realised at the start of the early 30's. Fleming continued to direct a further four films, which included there filming some the scenes in the Great Waltz. Gone With The Wind was the next film that Fleming, by chance was asked to direct after he replaced director George Cakor. Directing The Wizard Of Oz, was one of the pictures he was best known for. In the forty’s Fleming continued to release films that were box office hits. However right up to Joan of Ark his last film, performed badly at the box office with cinema audiences. In January, 1949, Fleming died of natural causes, he was about to start work on the film Robe. In 1952, some three years after Fleming had died Twentieth Century Fox released the film after it was filmed.

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