The Gourmet of Life

Merchant. Well, any film producer could have that surname. This one was a superb producer, because he got so much on the screen for so little. Distinguished actors worked for him for peanuts, and not from intimidation but for love. His rule was: never haggle, never beg. Charm was sufficient—that and one of his sumptuous Indian dinners.

As for his first name, it bears biblical and literary echoes of wanderers, seekers—perfect for the producer for whom the whole world was his back lot. Being on a first-name basis with theatrical royalty, he insisted on the same informality from...