Master of Men
Cast & Crew
Theodore Von Eltz
When pretty Kay Walling visits the steel mill owned by her father, crane operator Buck Garrett saves her from being engulfed by red-hot sparks. Also on hand with Kay's ruthless father are Grenaker, the mill's general manager, and Sam Parker, Walling's elderly friend who is the mill's principal stockholder. They tour the mill and see how the steel is transformed from raw ore to the finished product. Soon after, Buck leads a group of workers to Walling's mansion, at which a party is underway, to demand better working conditions. After Buck then leads the men to strike, Walling agrees to their conditions and, impressed with Buck's no-nonsense leadership abilities, promotes him to personnel manager. Buck discovers that Walling and Grenaker are concocting a crooked deal to force out Parker. When Buck informs Parker, the wily broker uses his Wall Street know-how to force out Walling and Grenaker and take over the mill. In return for his loyalty, Parker makes Buck the new president and helps iron out his romantic difficulties with Kay, who had begun seeing Buck despite her father's objections. After Buck and Kay are married, they move to New York, where Buck begins to dabble in stocks. Being a businessman suits him, and he gradually builds an empire through stocks, mergers and consolidations. Letting his reputation as a brilliant executive go to his head, Buck forgets his background as a champion of the workers and closes the mill as he becomes as ruthless as Walling. While he wins in the stock market and permits business to monopolize his time, Buck loses the love and respect of his wife. Determined to bring Buck to his senses, Kay listens to Parker's warning that Buck is in danger of losing everything because he has spread himself too thin. Parker eventually pulls out of his business dealings with Buck, a fact which Kay leaks to Buck's competitors. She connives with Grenaker to further weaken Buck's position, and when the stock market crashes in 1929, Buck is bankrupted. Distraught over his losses and worried that Kay is romantically involved with Grenaker, Buck seeks solace by returning to his hometown. He is reviled by the his former co-workers for closing the mill, however, and is about to be stormed by an angry mob when Parker arrives and announces the reopening of the mill. Parker places Buck in charge of the mill, where he regains his reputation as an honest and fair employer. His hard work also regains the respect of Kay, and the couple reconcile with Parker's aid.
Theodore Von Eltz
Fay Wray (1907-2004)
She was born Vina Fay Wray, in Cardston, Alberta, Canada on September 15, 1907. Her family relocated to Arizona when she was still a toddler so her father could find employment. When her parents divorced, her mother sent her to Hollywood when Fay's eldest sister died in the influenza epidemic of 1918. The reasoning was that Southern California offered a healthier climate for the young, frail Wray.
She attended Hollywood High School, where she took some classes in drama. After she graduated, she applied to the Hal Roach studio and was given a six-month contract where she appeared in two-reel Westerns (25 minutes in length), and played opposite Stan Laurel in his pre-Oliver Hardy days.
She landed her first big role, as Mitzi Schrammell, in Erich von Stroheim's beautifully mounted silent The Wedding March (1928). It made Wray a star. She then starred in some excellent films: The Four Feathers (1929), the early Gary Cooper Western The Texan (1930), and one of Ronald Coleman's first starring roles The Unholy Garden (1931), all of which were big hits of the day.
For whatever reason, Wray soon found herself in a string of thrillers that made her one of the great screamers in Hollywood history. The titles say it all: Doctor X, The Most Dangerous Game (both 1932), Mystery of the Wax Museum, The Vampire Bat (both 1933) and, of course her most famous role, that of Ann Darrow, who tempts cinema's most famous ape in the unforgettable King Kong (also 1933).
Wray did prove herself quite capable in genre outside of the horror game, the best of which were Shanghai Madness with Spencer Tracy; The Bowery (both 1933), a tough pre-Hays Code drama opposite George Raft; and the brutal Viva Villa (1934), with Wallace Beery about the famed Mexican bandit. Yet curiously, the quality of her scripts began to tank, and she eventually found herself acting in such mediocre fare as Come Out of the Pantry (1935), and They Met in a Taxi (1936).
With her roles becoming increasingly routine, the last of which was the forgettable comedy Not a Ladies Man (1942), she decided to trade acting for domesticity and married Robert Riskin, who won two Best Screenplay Oscars® for the Frank Capra comedies It Happened One Night (1934) and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936). When Riskin died in 1955, Wray found herself working to keep busy and support her three children. She landed supporting parts for films like The Cobweb (1955), Hell on Frisco Bay (1956) and Tammy and the Bachelor (1957). She also found work in television on such popular programs as Perry Mason and Wagon Train before she retired from acting all together in the mid-'60s.
To her credit, Wray did remain reasonably active after her retirement. She published her autobiography, On The Other Hand in 1989 and was attending many film festivals that honored her contribution to film, most notably in January 2003, when, at 95 years of age, she accepted in person her "Legend in Film" Award at the Palm Beach International Film Festival. Wray is survived by a son, Robert Riskin Jr.; two daughters, Susan and Victoria; and two grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Fay Wray (1907-2004)
The working title of this film was Man of Steel. Copyright records credit John Stumar with photography, but all other contemporary sources credit Joseph August.