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Overview for John Cromwell
John Cromwell

John Cromwell



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Also Known As: Elwood Dagger Cromwell Died: September 26, 1979
Born: December 23, 1888 Cause of Death: pulmonary embolism
Birth Place: Toledo, Ohio, USA Profession: Director ... director producer actor


Theater success (as actor, director, producer) who went to Hollywood in the late 1920s at the age of 40, and subsequently proved a capable craftsman of polished, occasionally exceptional studio fare, with a gift for eliciting surprisingly solid performances from even mediocre actors.

Initially with Paramount, he moved to RKO in 1933, before branching out to work for various producers, most notably the autocratic David O. Selznick. Among Cromwell's better efforts are "Of Human Bondage" (1934), which made Bette Davis a star; the finest version of the swashbuckler "The Prisoner of Zenda" (1937); the slice of Americana, "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" (1940), which owes much of its success to Robert Sherwood's play basis; the WWII homefront tribute, "Since You Went Away" (1944), mostly the vision of producer Selznick; the sensitive, but not overly sentimental, romantic fantasy, "The Enchanted Cottage" (1945); and the visually rewarding "Anna and the King of Siam" (1946), which won Oscars for the cinematographer and production designer.

After leaving Selznick in the post-war period, and being blacklisted in the early 1950s, Cromwell brought a grittier, more realistic edge to such later films as "Dead Reckoning" (1947); the women's prison expose, "Caged" (1950); and the Marilyn Monroe-like saga, "The Goddess" (1959). He appeared in character parts in Robert Altman's "Three Women" (1977) and as the semi-senile priest in "A Wedding" (1978). Married to actresses Alice Indahl, Marie Goff, Kay Johnson and Ruth Nelson and father of actor James (Jamie) Cromwell.

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