Harry Cohn

Pioneering movie moguls

As a foul-mouthed studio boss, Harry Cohn generated so many stories about what he’d said and done that Columbia seldom ran out of material. That’s a joke, but note that one of the best portraits based on Cohn — Broderick Crawford as Harry Brock in “Born Yesterday” — occurred in a Columbia film. With his brother Jack and Harry Brandt, Cohn formed the CBC in 1919. Then they dumped Brandt and became Columbia. In time, they would have a version of the Statue of Liberty (but sexier) as their logo. For years, Columbia was a poverty studio and Frank Capra always reckoned Cohn was lucky to have got his hands on him. Cohn and Capra fought over everything with a sincere mutual hatred. But Capra was never the same after he quit Columbia. Meanwhile, Cohn’s studio won best picture Oscars for “It Happened One Night,” “You Can’t Take It With You,” “All the King’s Men,” “On the Waterfront” and “From Here to Eternity.”

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