by A. Scott Berg
Knopf; 579 pages; $24.95
His malapropisms -- calling the French painter "Toujours Lautrec," asking some fellow schemers to "include me out" of a deal -- gained Samuel Goldwyn a perverse fame as the archetypal Hollywood immigrant mogul, crude and semiliterate. But as A. Scott Berg demonstrates in this readable, richly researched biography, Goldwyn was never an archetypal anything, except in his poor Jewish origins in Eastern Europe. Unlike the Mayers and Warners, he made relatively few films, and he never built a mighty empire with a huge star roster and an immense distribution network. He was...