OPINIONSnGood as Goldwynnby George Garrettn’They designed an entire solar system in just six seconds. It took God six days, ifnyou believe the Old Testament.”n— Gene Roddenberry in an interviewnGoldwyn: A Biographynhy A. ?,cott BergnNew York: Alfred A. Knopfn580 pp., $24.95n* ^ T t’s not his life, it’s a fairy story,”nJ. wrote John Dos Passos of the lifenof Sam Goldwyn in a documeritarynsection oi Mid-Century (1961). Evennthough Dos Passos had to dependnalmost entirely on canned “facts” andnpublic relations handouts, togethernwith an extended personal interview,nhis little seven-page section, “ThenPromised Land (old style),” managesnto say more, more truly and deeply,nthan A., Scott Berg’s massive (580npages), much-promoted, widely advertised,nand extensively reviewed Goldwyn:nA Biography. But the comparisonnand contrast is not quite fair. DosnPassos was a major writer. You don’tnread Berg for the fine writing or for thenrefinement and depth of his perceptions;nyou read him for information henhas gained and gleaned from years ofnhonorable hard labor and for his undeniablenknack at organizing and refiningna heap of factual raw materials intonsome cumulative and chronologicalnpatterns. Dos Passos was dead right,nthough. The life of Schmuel Gelbfisznof Warsaw, Poland, who became SamuelnGoldfish in Birmingham, England,nand finally, in America, the one andnonly Samuel Goldwyn, can justly bentaken as an old-fashioned fairy tale ofnmagical transformation — sow’s earninto silk purse. It would make a prettyngood movie, all in all, following theninexorable rise, from anonymousnGeorge Garrett is the author of thenforthcoming Entered From the Sun,nabout the life and death ofnChristopher Marlowe.n28/CHRONICLESnnnglovemaker to famous filmmaker, of anpassionate, rootless, ruthless (andnlucky) survivor who escapes from thengrinding, almost hopeless material povertynof one country and century to findngreat wealth and eminence and somentokens of honor in another nation andncentury, ending his days at last physicallyn”reduced to a vegetable,” as hisnson says. And although his actualnbones rest and rot appropriately innopulent and vulgar Forest Lawn, therenis a sad and symbolic sense in which henmay be said to rest forever in annintellectual and spiritual potter’s field,nthat haunting place the dictionary describesnas “a burial place for strangersnand the friendless poor.” It could, thus,nbe a tragic tale, certainly a patheticnone, if Goldwyn had not also been sonuniformly and famously funny — thisnbiography has the greatest collection ofn”Goldwynisms” yet assembled — and,nbehind all the fun and games, if henwere not so consistendy and irresistiblynwicked in his dealings with all otherncreatures great and small, friend andnfoe alike. And, too, if his line of work,nalmost wholly exploitative and parasitical,nshow business pure and simple,nwere not, after all is said and done,nasserted and debated, essentially inconsequential.nSomething else inhibits the shadowsnand undertones of pathos — our nostalgianfor the rough and ready hardngrabbers of an earlier, simpler time. Itnis so much easier to like Blackbeard thenPirate than Ivan Boesky, Captain Kiddnthan Donald Trump, Lucretia Borgianthan Leona Helmsley. Slick contemporaryncorporate people, CEO’s andneven the lesser lords and ladies, arenboring (and dangerous to health andnwelfare) with a capital B. SamnGoldwyn lived and died as an IndependentnProducer. In the years be-n