James A. Mulvey - SIMPP Executive
President of Samuel Goldwyn Inc.
Excerpt from Hollywood Renegades by J. A. Aberdeen
SIMPP executive secretary John Flinn had been put in charge of a
newly-expanded Hollywood base of operations. Unfortunately Flinn died
unexpectedly in 1946, leaving his duties to be filled by several emerging
figures in the Society. Flinn's actual position was occupied by a new secretary
Marvin L. Faris. However, many of the executive responsibilities were assumed by
representatives of the leading producers-specifically two key delegates: James
Mulvey, president of Samuel Goldwyn, Inc., and Gunther
Lessing, vice president of Walt Disney Productions.
James A. Mulvey had been with Sam Goldwyn from the inception of his
independent production company in the early 1920s, and over the years became
Goldwyn's most trusted business confidant. Before Goldwyn, Mulvey worked for the
old Boston & Westchester Railroad in New York, then moved to
Price-Waterhouse where he served as an accountant to movie client Sam Goldwyn.
When Goldwyn went independent in 1922, he hired Mulvey to run his New York
office to enable the producer to became a hands-on filmmaker on the west coast.
Mulvey preferred anonymity, and rejected generous offers to become a
high-ranking executive at several major studios. He remained as president of
Samuel Goldwyn Productions (later Samuel Goldwyn, Inc.) for over four decades.
In what was essentially a privately-held company, Goldwyn took exception to his
rule of never taking on partners, and gave Mulvey a five and a fraction
percentage ownership of his independent studio. James Mulvey, who specialized in
distribution, was frequently consulted by his colleagues on complex industry
issues, making him ideally suited for the collaborative interests of SIMPP.
Both James Mulvey and Gunther Lessing
became important leaders of the Society. Mulvey would demonstrate his
resourcefulness as a negotiator representing the independent producers in many
of the foreign territorial disputes over quotas, while on the legal front,
Lessing would stimulate the Society's antitrust agenda. As Mulvey and Lessing's
influence grew, it also illustrated the prominence of the two most important
SIMPP members, Goldwyn and Disney.
Exit from SIMPP
After Goldwyn exited SIMPP in 1955, James A. Mulvey also relinquished his
responsibilities from the Society. Then in 1960 Mulvey resigned from Samuel
Goldwyn Productions to form a joint venture with a Canadian theater circuit to
distribute foreign films with big-budget advertising campaigns. He had also
taken an active interest in the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball franchise, serving as
vice president since 1937. He became part owner of the team, and helped manage
the Dodgers move to Los Angeles.
Goldwyn had a difficult time reclaiming the 5 percent interest Mulvey held in
the Samuel Goldwyn film company. When litigation ensued between Goldwyn and
Mulvey, the incident became a blunt reminder to Goldwyn why he had always
resisted taking on partners over the years. Mulvey made the ironic accusation
that Goldwyn had sold his films to television in a block sale that diluted the
value of Mulvey's stock just when Goldwyn came to reclaim the shares. The court
dismissed the block booking antitrust claim against Goldwyn, but awarded a $1
million settlement to Mulvey in 1972. He and Goldwyn instead settled in
undisclosed terms out of court shortly before Mulvey died in December 1973.
Death of John Flinn: Mary Pickford to Courtney A. Flinn, 1946,
James A. Mulvey biographical information: "Mulvey
Luncheon Marks 30 Years With Goldwyn," MPH, April 25, 1953;
"James A. Mulvey, Retired Goldwyn Co. Prez, Dies in Fla.," DV,
December 4, 1973, pp. 1, 9; Thomas M. Prior, "James Mulvey, 74, Dies In
Fla., Goldwyn Partner & Litigant," Variety, December 5, 1973,
pp. 4, 28.
Mulvey versus Goldwyn: “Mulvey Heads New Company With
Canadian Group; Hutner in Setup,” HR, October 17, 1960; “Court
Dismisses Antitrust Angle, Orders Mulvey Suit vs. Goldwyn To Trial,” DV,
January 8, 1969, pp. 1, 8; “Similar Elements In Mulvey-Goldwyn Suit,” DV,
October 24, 1979; also Berg, Goldwyn, pp. 501-502.