Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mervyn LeRoy, 1900-1987

Head shot of Jack Carson,

Today marks the birth anniversary of director Mervyn LeRoy. He directed a whole host of movies across genres from the early 1930s through the early 1960s, of which I've already recommended several:

I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang, the Paul Muni classic about a man sent to a chain gang for a minor crime, who had to escape from it twice;

Three on a Match with Bette Davis (in her undies!) before she became a star, and Humphrey Bogart in one of his earliest roles, before he even reached the second tier;

Gold Diggers of 1933, a movie about neon violins and Ginger Rogers singing in Pig Latin. Well, that's not quite what it's about; it's one of those musicals with a threadbare plot that's more fun to watch for Busby Berkeley's ridiculous production numbers;

The dreadful epic Quo Vadis; and

The Bad Seed, about a girl who will go to pretty shocking lengths to get what she wants.

Interestingly, despite directing all of these wonderful movies, some of which are true classics, none of these earned LeRoy an Oscar nomination. He only got one nomination for Best Director, that being for the dreadfully treacly romance Random Harvest. It just goes to show how versatile the directors were back in those days, largely because they had to be -- the studios were putting out so many movies each year that the directors had to learn to do whatever type of movie the studio bosses were telling them to do.

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