|Died||September 13, 1987 (aged 86)|
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)|
|Employer||First National Pictures (1927–1929)|
Warner Bros. (1929–1938)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (1938–1945) (1948–1954)
Warner Bros. (1955–1959)
|Children||Linda LeRoy Janklow|
Warner LeRoy (1935–2001)
This article needs editing for compliance with Wikipedia's Manual of Style. (September 2021)
Mervyn LeRoy // (October 15, 1900 – September 13, 1987) was an American film director, film producer and screenplay writer. In his youth he played juvenile roles in vaudeville and silent film comedies.
During the 1930s, LeRoy was one of the two great practitioners of economical and effective film directing at Warner Brothers studios, the other his cohort Michael Curtiz. LeRoy's outstanding films of his tenure at Warners include Little Caesar (1931), I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (1932), Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) and They Won't Forget (1937).
LeRoy was born on October 15, 1900 in San Francisco, California, the only child of Jewish parents Edna (née Armer) and Harry LeRoy, a well-to-do department store owner. Both his parents' families had fully assimilated, residing in the Bay Area for several generations. LeRoy described his relatives as "San Franciscans first, Americans second, Jews third."
LeRoy's mother was a frequent attendee at San Francisco's premier vaudeville venues, the Orpheum and the Alcazar, often socializing with the theater's personnel. She arranged for the six-year-old LeRoy to serve as a Native-American papoose in the 1906 stage production of The Squaw Man. LeRoy attributed his early interest in vaudeville to "my mother's fascination with it" and to that of his cousins, Jesse L. Lasky and Blanche Lasky, vaudevillians during LeRoy's youth.
LeRoy's parents separated suddenly in 1905 for reasons that were not divulged to their son. They never reunited and his father Harry raised LeRoy as a single parent. His mother moved to Oakland, California with Percy Teeple, a travel agent and former journalist, who would later become LeRoy's stepfather after the death of Harry Leroy in 1916. LeRoy visited his mother as a child, regarding her more as "a grandparent or a favorite aunt."
"A LeRoy-Armer family legend maintains that the newborn—delivered on the kitchen table and weighing only two-and-half pounds—was placed in a turkey roasting pan and put in a warm oven to improve his chances of survival. The doctor who advised this procedure cautioned LeRoy's parents: "Make sure the flame is real low, however."
The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire devastated the city when LeRoy was five-and-a-half years old. LeRoy was sleeping in his bed on the second floor when the quake struck in the early morning causing the house to collapse. Neither LeRoy nor his father suffered serious physical injury. The elder LeRoy's import-export store was completely destroyed . LeRoy retained vivid mental images of the city's devastation:
"My memory is a kaleidoscope of pictures. I have always thought in visual terms and when I recall that morning of April 18, 1906, I see a mental album of tragic pictures...many years later in Quo Vadis, I shot the burning of Rome and I drew on my memories of the burning of San Francisco as a grim model."
Reduced to virtual penury, father and son lived as displaced persons at the military-run tent city on the Presidio for the next six months. The elder LeRoy obtained work as a salesman for the Heinz Pickle Company, but his business losses had left him "a beaten man." The young LeRoy emerged from the traumatic event with a sense of pride that he had survived the ordeal and to regard it as fortuitous: "The big thing in my life was the earthquake...it changed my life before I knew I even had one."
At the age of twelve, with few prospects to acquire a formal education and his father financially strained, LeRoy became a newsboy. His father supported him in this endeavor. LeRoy hawked newspapers at iconic locations, including Chinatown, the Barbary Coast red-light district and Fisherman's Wharf, where he became educated as to the realities of life in the city:
"I saw life in raw on the streets of San Francisco. I met the cops and the whores and the reporters and the bartenders and the Chinese and the [commercial] fishermen and shopkeepers. I knew them all, knew how they thought and how they loved and how they hated. When it came time for me to make motion pictures, I made movies that were real, because I knew how real people behaved."
Juvenile acts in vaudeville: 1914-1923
Selling newspapers near the Alcazar Theatre, LeRoy was spotted by stage star Theodore Roberts. A personable and attractive youth at age fourteen, LeRoy was engaged for a bit part in a 1914 stage production of Barbara Frietchie. Gratified by "that lovely feeling—audience approval", he performed in productions with the Liberty Theater in Oakland, playing the lead juvenile roles in Tom Sawyer and Little Lord Fauntleroy.
As a 14-year-old, LeRoy carefully observed emerging screen star Charlie Chaplin at a number of film sets in the greater San Francisco area. From these studies, LeRoy devised a burlesque of the comedian, and perfected his imitation on the local amateur circuit. In 1915 he won a competition that hosted almost a thousand Chaplin imitators at the Pantages Theater. His outstanding performance earned him a slot as "The Singing Newsboy" in Sid Grauman's vaudeville show at the Panama–Pacific International Exposition titled "Chinatown by Night". In 1916 his father died, leaving the 15-year-old LeRoy responsible for providing his own financial support.
LeRoy and Cooper: "Two Kids and a Piano": 1916–1919
Now a show-business professional, LeRoy left his newsboy job. Pairing with the 16-year-old actor-pianist Clyde Cooper, they formed a vaudeville routine "LeRoy and Cooper: Two Kids and a Piano." The duo struggled to find engagements, and LeRoy recalled "we would have played toilets if they had offered us some money." Soon they were discovered by the premier vaudeville circuits - Pantages, Gus Sun and Orpheum - and provided with regular bookings on national tours. LeRoy relished the lifestyle of a vaudevillian, occasionally appearing in shows that featured iconic performers of the era, among them Sarah Bernhardt, Harry Houdini and Jack Benny. After three years, and now "a fairly well-established act" in theater listings, the duo amicably disbanded after an unexpected death in Cooper's family.
LeRoy joined George Choos's mostly female troupe in musical comedies, and Gus Edwards act billed "The Nine Country Kids" in 1922. LeRoy's enthusiasm for the stage gradually waned and he left the troupe in 1923.
Early Hollywood career: technician and actor: 1919–1923
LeRoy accepted a bit role in a scene with former The Perils of Pauline (1914) star Pearl White filmed at Fort Lee, New Jersey. LeRoy was "thoroughly intrigued" by the filmmaking process, recalling "I knew I was finished with vaudeville. I knew, just as positively that I wanted to get into the movie business."
In October 1919 LeRoy, just turned 19, approached his cousin Jesse L. Lasky, a former vaudevillian and twenty years his senior. Lasky was a partner with rising movie moguls Samuel Goldwyn and Adolf Zukor at its New York headquarters at Famous Players-Lasky. Lasky furnished LeRoy with note to the employment department at their Hollywood studios. A week later LeRoy began working in the Wardrobe Unit folding costumes for the American Civil War picture Secret Service (1919), earning $12.50 a week.
According to film historian Kingley Canham, Leroy's "enthusiasm, energy and push", in addition to a further appeal to Jesse Lasky, earned LeRoy promotion to lab technician in the film tinting unit.
LeRoy's next advancement was achieved through his own initiative. Discovering that director William DeMille wished to create an illusion of moonlight shimmering on a lake to produce a romantic effect, LeRoy devised a technique in the lab:
"I had an idea. That night I stayed late in the lab...I got a big wooden box about twelve feet square and lined it with tar paper. Then I filled it with distilled water...I got a spotlight and carefully set it up so the light played upon the surface of the water...I took one of the studio's Pathé cameras, found a supply of raw film and shot some five-thousand feet of my pseudo-moonlight-on-the-water."
After six months behind the camera, LeRoy experienced a disastrous contretemps when he improperly adjusted the camera focus settings, ruining footage on several scenes on a DeMille production. LeRoy describes it as "a horrible mess" which led to his dismissal in 1921 as cameraman.
LeRoy was soon hired as an extra on Cecil B. DeMille's 1923 epic The Ten Commandments LeRoy credits Cecil B. DeMille, for inspiring him to become a director: "As the top director of the era, DeMille had been the magnet that had drawn me to his set as often as I could go." LeRoy also credits DeMille for teaching him the directing techniques required to make his own films.
LeRoy worked intermittently in small supporting roles in film during the early 1920s, The youthful and diminutive LeRoy (at 5 feet 7 inches [170 cm] and just over 115 pounds [53 kg]) was consistently cast in juvenile roles. appearing with film stars Wallace Reid, Betty Compson and Gloria Swanson (See Film Chronology table) He performed his last role in The Chorus Lady (1924) as "Duke".
Gag writer (comedy constructor) and Alfred E. Green, 1924–1926
During the filming of The Ghost Breaker (1922), bit actor LeRoy suggested a number of humorous skits, which were incorporated into the picture by director Alfred E. Green. Green offered him a position as "gag man". LeRoy recalled:
"I didn't have to think twice. That was what I wanted—a chance to be in on the creative aspect of movie-making. It wasn't directing, but it was getting closer. It was inventing, not interpreting...I abandoned my acting career with no regrets"
While working at First National Pictures, LeRoy wrote gags for comedienne Colleen Moore in several films including Sally (1925), The Desert Flower (1925), We Moderns (1925) and Ella Cinders (1926). LeRoy served as acting advisor and confidant to Moore. In 1927 her husband John McCormick, studio head at First National in Hollywood, asked LeRoy to direct Moore in a version of Peg O' My Heart. When the project was cancelled studio president Richard A. Rowland, with Moore advocating, authorized LeRoy to direct a comedy, No Place to Go, starring Mary Astor and Lloyd Hughes and launching LeRoy's filmmaking career at age twenty-seven.
First National Pictures: transition to sound, 1927–1930
His success with No Place to Go (1927), was followed by "a string of comedies and jazz-baby dramas" that served as vehicles for actress Alice White and allowed LeRoy to hone his skills as director. His prolific output in the final years of the silent film era included the box-office successes Harold Teen with Arthur Lake and Oh, Kay! with Colleen Moore.
LeRoy eagerly anticipated his first sound picture assignment, Naughty Baby (1929):
"My fifth picture, in 1929, was my first with sound. I had been watching the experiments with talkies with tremendous excitement...As a veteran of stage and vaudeville, I knew the value of the spoken and sung word. I understood dialogue, because I had been an actor...I couldn't wait until I had a change to direct a talking picture."
LeRoy's early directing efforts at First National were largely limited to comedies. His movies from this period include Gentleman's Fate (1931) with John Gilbert (filmed at M-G-M studios), Tonight or Never (1931), with Gloria Swanson, High Pressure, a proto-screwball comedy with William Powell and Evelyn Brent, and The Heart of New York (1932) with Joe Smith.
Warner Brothers: 1930–1939
LeRoy embarked on a period of enormous productivity and inventiveness at Warner Studios, creating "some the most polished and ambitious" films of the Thirties. His only rival at Warner's was fellow director Michael Curtiz. Film historian John Baxter observes:
"Warners films were the most perfectly economical exercises in cinematic mechanics of which Hollywood was capable. There was no fat on them, either as art or entertainment...as a filmmaking tool, it functioned best in the hands of two great directors, Mervyn Leroy and Michael Curtiz."
In the studio's competitive crucible produced by the Great Depression demanding profitable entertainment, LeRoy directed 36 pictures during the decade (Curtiz filmed an astounding 44 features during the same period). Baxter adds: "No genius could function without variation under such pressure." The social perspective of films favored at Warner Brothers was distinct from those of its chief rivals: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (M-G-M), uncontested for its "technical virtuosity" aimed to serve "middle-class tastes" and Paramount studios identified for its "sophisticated dialogue and baroque settings" that catered to European sensibilities. In contrast, Warner Brothers films carried themes appealing to the working classes. Leroy biographer Kingsley Canham writes:
"The topicality of Warner's material and its direct appeal to the working classes set it apart from other studios. What their film lacked in gloss in comparison to M-G-M or the sophistication of Paramount was more than adequately compensated for by their presentation of everyday material...the working classes could identify with people, the situations and surroundings..."
LeRoy's output in the early Thirties was prodigious. The director attests to the rate of film production at the studios:
"If the poorer Curtiz films are disappointing, LeRoy's failures are impossible to watch. When his initial concept was faulty or failed through heavy-handed scripting he could be as banal as Henry King at his worst. It needed a firm central theme to sustain LeRoy, a solid anchor for his speculation, and it was when he had this that his films reached heights at least as lofty as those scaled by Curtiz." - Biographer John Baxter, from his Hollywood in the Thirties (1970)
"...While the world was struggling out of the depression, I turned out film after film after film. It was a period of tremendous activity for me—and for Hollywood in general...I threw myself into my work...we had to keep working to stay up with the demand. The public was voracious in its appetite for movies...Neighborhood theaters had double features, and the bill usually changed twice a week. That means they were showing four new pictures a week, 208 a year, and that's only one theater."
LeRoy's social realism mocked corrupt politicians, bankers and the idle rich, while celebrating the Depression Era experiences of "hard-working chorus girls...taxi-drivers and bell-hops struggling to make ends meet in the brawl of New York...gloss and polish were considered useless affectation."
Gangster genre: Little Caesar, 1930
LeRoy first departed from his comedy-romance themed films with his drama Numbered Men (1930), a character study of convicts shot on location at San Quentin prison. The depiction of criminal elements had enjoyed popularity with Josef von Sternberg's silent classic Underworld (1927), a fantasy treatment of his lone Byronic gangster "Bull" Weed. The gangster film as a genre was not achieved until LeRoy's 1930 Little Caesar, starring Edward G. Robinson, the first time that "any real attempt was made by Hollywood to describe the brutal reality of the criminal world."
LeRoy's Little Caesar established the iconography of subsequent films on organized crime, emphasizing the hierarchy of family loyalties and the function of violence in advancing criminal careers. LeRoy's adroit cinematic handling of Robinson's Rico incrementally shifts initial audience response from revulsion at the character's homicidal acts to a "grudging admiration" that provides for a measure of sympathy when the gangster meets his sordid death in a back alley. LeRoy recalled the topicality of his subject in 1930: "Al Capone was a household word and the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre had happened only a year before."
LeRoy further demonstrated his talent for delivering fast-paced and competently executed social commentary and entertainment with Five Star Final (1931), an exposé of tabloid journalism, and Two Seconds (1932), a "vicious and disenchanted" cautionary tale of a death row inmate, each starring Robinson.
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)
Warner Brothers' most explosive social critique of the 1930s appeared with LeRoy's I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, dramatizing the harsh penal codes in Georgia and starring Paul Muni as the hunted fugitive James Allen.
Historian John Baxter observes that "no director has managed to close his film on so cold a note as LeRoy." Muni's escaped convict, falsely condemned to hard labor, is reduced to furtive prey: Asked by his estranged sweetheart "how do you get along, how do you live?" he hisses "I steal" and retreats into the night.
The versatile LeRoy portrayed both hard-boiled and clownish characters at Warner Brothers. His Hard to Handle (1933), James Cagney plays a fast-talking and remorselessly unscrupulous con-man, often to comic effect. His 1933 pictures Tugboat Annie (with LeRoy on loan to M-G-M), with Marie Dressler and Elmer, the Great, the final of three pictures that LeRoy made with comic Joe E. Brown, stand in contrast with the director's gangster melodramas.
LeRoy's socially-themed narrative is evident in his Three on a Match (1932) which follows the fates of three young women: a stenographer, a showgirl and a socialite played by Bette Davis, Joan Blondell and Ann Dvorak, respectively. His adroit transitions and cross-cutting provide quick and effective insights into his characters' social rise and fall. The "pitiless mileau of grimy backstreets and cheap motels" serve as an implicit social critique without making this the theme of the picture.
The Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
The musical Gold Diggers of 1933 is one of the outstanding examples of the genre released by Warner Brothers in the Thirties. While the dance stagings—"surreal, geometric, often erotically charged" by choreographer Busby Berkeley dominate the picture, Warner's musicals, according to historian John Baxter "are distinguished enough to be worth considering outside any discussion of Berkeley's dance direction. The Gold Diggers of 1933 certainly deserves such attention." Offering more than mere depression era escapism, the musical depicts the mass unemployment of veterans of World War I and alludes to the recent Washington D.C. Bonus Army protests, violently suppressed by police and U.S. Army units. The movie closes with the "dark and pessimistic" number "Remember My Forgotten Man".
"From Little Caesar to Gypsy, Le Roy has converted his innate vulgarity into a personal style. As long as he is not mistaken for a serious artist, LeRoy can be delightfully entertaining."—Andrew Sarris (The American Cinema, 1968)
LeRoy's control of the comedic elements and his direction of a cast endowed with "hard-boiled" heroines Ruby Keeler, Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon and Ginger Rogers, would provide stand alone entertainment even if unencumbered by Berkeley's choreographed numbers. MacMahon, who plays the "ruthless" Trixie was later cast in the lead for LeRoy's dramatic Heat Lightning (1934) as a murderess. a picture which prefigures director Archie Mayo's The Petrified Forest (1936).
Oil for the Lamps of China (1935)
Oil for the Lamps of China, an adaption of the Alice Tisdale Hobart novel, is an examination of an American oil company in China, centering on its paternalistic and humiliating treatment of an ambitious company man played by Pat O'Brien. Josephine Hutchinson portrays his long-suffering wife. LeRoy effectively employed cinematic techniques of montage, structural parallels in settings, chiaroscuro lighting and musical leitmotifs to develop atmosphere and convey O'Brien's struggle, ending in his vindication.
LeRoy returned to light comedy and romance in 1935 with a film adaption of the 1929 Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II stage production of the same name starring Irene Dunne. and a Marion Davies vehicle Page Miss Glory (filmed at Hearst's Cosmopolitan Pictures) and I Found Stella Parish, with a sentimental "tour-de-force" performance by Kay Francis.
Anthony Adverse (1936)
Based on the popular twelve-hundred page historical romance by Hervey Allen, Warner's Anthony Adverse (1936) was LeRoy's most prestigious undertaking to date. Only two-thirds of the vast and unwieldy picaresque tale, set during the Napoleonic era, is depicted onscreen (a sequel was planned but abandoned). The sheer scale of the project remains impressive, and Leroy's ability to handle a film with high production values that possessed a "Metro-like glossiness" recommended him to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a prospective executive producer.
The "lively performances" from a large cast including Fredric March, Olivia de Havilland, Claude Rains, Anita Louise and Gale Sondergaard, as well as LeRoy's "technical excellence" was rewarded with five academy award nominations.
LeRoy reports in his 1974 memoir that "by the time 1936 arrived, I was slowing my pace somewhat. Gone were the assembly-line tactics, the grinding-them-out methods of a few years before...I was working slower, trying to achieve more beauty on film, looking for cinematic perfection."
Producer-Director at Warner Brothers: 1936-1938
In 1936, Warners began tasking LeRoy with both directing and producing assignments. LeRoy served as producer-director on Three Men on a Horse (1936), a "madcap" comedy starring Frank McHugh and a screenplay co-written by Groucho Marx. This was followed in 1937 with The King and the Chorus Girl, starring French actor Fernand Gravet . Both films costarred Joan Blondell.
They Won't Forget (1937)
LeRoy's penultimate film for Warners was They Won't Forget (1937), a harsh indictment of lynch law based on the Ward Greene novel, Death in the Deep South (1936). According to critic Kingsley Canham, LeRoy's handling of tracking and low-angle shots, overhead composition, close-ups and dissolves possess a "visual power" that "retains its impact for modern audiences." LeRoy's unmitigated condemnation of lynching rejects misanthropy and adopts a tone of "righteous anger", in which there "is no forgiveness" for the instigators of mob law.
LeRoy was poised to move to M-G-M as head of production in 1938, with the fulsome support of the studio's Louis B. Mayer where "[LeRoy] would establish himself as a major force in Forties cinema." Before departing Warners, Leroy directed and produced his final film Fools for Scandal (1938), the studio's second - and failed attempt - to launch the American film career of French actor Fernand Gravet. Comedienne Carol Lombard costars.
Interlude as producer: M-G-M: 1938-1939
Dramatic School (1938) directed by Robert B. Sinclair: A romantic drama starring Luise Rainer and Paulette Goddard and LeRoy's first picture at M-G-M. Biographer John Baxter attributes Rainer's "coherent, moving and truthful" performance to producer LeRoy and "a fitting to [the filmmakers] rich Thirties career."
Stand Up and Fight (1938), directed by W. S. Van Dyke: A Wallace Beery vehicle, with costars Robert Taylor and Florence Rice. The screenplay was co-written by crime fiction writer James M. Cain, and Jane Murfin, who wrote the adaption of Booth Tarkington's novel the Katharine Hepburn vehicle Alice Adams (1935).
The Wizard of Oz (1939): Magnum opus production
In 1938, LeRoy proposed a film version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). Louis B. Mayer purchased the rights to the property from Samuel Goldwyn for $50,000. Mayer limited LeRoy's role to producer and ultimately Victor Fleming was enlisted as credited director. LeRoy recalled the scope of the project:
LeRoy had long desired to adapt the Frank Baum books to film and reminisced that "the dream remained merely a dream until I found myself at M-G-M and Louis B. Mayer asked me what I wanted to make." "The Wizard of Oz," I said.
He didn't look pained or upset or anything. "Okay," he said. "Do it."
"The preparations were enormous. Nothing like it had ever been done before…[art directors] Cedric Gibbons [and] William A. Horning built a model of the set that was one-fourth life size...it took months to finish that alone, and some of the statistics boggle the mind...when the full set was built it covered 25 acres of the studio backlot...we had 65 different sets in the picture, and each of them was concocted out of whole cloth and hard work."
LeRoy added that "it took six months to prepare the picture, six months to shoot it, and then a lengthy post-production schedule for editing and scoring. Altogether The Wizard of Oz was many months in the making..."
"...I quickly became disenchanted with my new job [as producer]...I found myself chafing at the executive's desk. It didn't take long to realize that the fun of the movie business was in the actual directing...About a year after getting to [M-G-M] I went to Mayer and said I wanted out."
LeRoy accepted a cut in salary to $4000 a week as a director at M-G-M and “never again functioned only as a producer.”
Director at M-G-M: 1940-1949
The onset of war in Europe in 1939 created anxiety in the Hollywood film industry as the overseas movie market contracted and currency restrictions mounted in Great Britain. Hollywood studios implemented salary reductions and limits on film content were imposed, particularly at M-G-M. Film historians Charles Higham and Joel Greenberg describe these developments persisting “almost to the end of the decade”:
“At Metro, the idea was to concentrate on nice people involved in heartbreak, finding their happiness at last in each others arms, and all in settings of an idealized and antiseptic beauty: an England full of sunshine and chintz and doves, an America full of white fences and rambler roses around the door. Hagiographies of inventors and reformers glowed with optimistic charm…”
LeRoy limited himself to directing features at M-G-M for the next 9 years, delivering 11 pictures. The quality of his output during this period is generally viewed as a decline creatively compared to his early work at Warner Brothers during the Thirties.
Waterloo Bridge (1940)
Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer purchased the rights to Waterloo Bridge from Universal Studios, which had produced an adaption filmed in 1931 by James Whale and starring Mae Clarke as the fallen woman, Myra.
LeRoy's Waterloo Bridge (1940), served as a vehicle to capitalize upon the meteoric rise of Vivien Leigh, heroine of David O. Selznick's epic Gone with the Wind (1939). In a period when foreign markets were in jeopardy, profitable films were at a premium.
A silent film era technician and director in his early Hollywood career, LeRoy utilized silent film methods to film a key nightclub love scene with Leigh and costar Robert Taylor. LeRoy describes his epiphany:
“‘No dialogue!...No dialogue at all!...I realized at that moment what all silent directors had always known...in great emotional moments, there are no words. A look, a gesture, a touch can convey much more meaning than spoken sentences [and] that's the way we played the scene...”
LeRoy directed Robert Taylor, Norma Shearer and Conrad Veidt in the 1940 Escape, the first of a number of anti-Nazi features suppressed by Hitler and which ultimately led to the banning of all M-G-M pictures in Germany.
The Greer Garson pictures
Blossoms in the Dust (1941): The screenplay by Anita Loos portrays the struggle by social reformer Edna Gladney to redeem children stigmatized by illegitimacy. Termed “highly romanticized” and “shamelessly sentimental” by film historian Kingley Canham, LeRoy defended the picture as virtuous and socially significant:
“Blossoms in the Dust began my association with Greer Garson...the picture made an immediate and profound contribution to the world we live in. Between it and Fugitive, I think I have contributed toward making this a better country.”
Random Harvest (1942): Leroy and producer Sydney Franklin paired Garson with fellow Briton Ronald Colman in a romance that dramatizes clinical amnesia suffered by a WWI combat veteran. Garson's genteel and largely desexualized screen image - “M-G-M's First Lady of Saintly Virtue” - favored by Louis B. Mayer, is countered by LeRoy's less inhibited Garson as the “impulsive Scottish lass” Paula.
LeRoy's leisurely narrative pace, the lavishness of the settings, the fulsome musical score and the balanced editing demonstrate his embrace of M-G-M production values and distinguishing the stylish Random Harvest from his work at Warner Brothers.
“With money rolling in and attendance at all time highs, studios in the Forties could afford to indulge in 'prestige productions' as never before. Lives of the great and famous proved, as always, tempting material: authors, saints, politicians, scientists, inventors and tycoons received solid if none too accurate tributes…”
LeRoy and producer Sydney Franklin made a genuine effort to make the “highbrow” subject of the film - the heroic discovery of radium isotopes - engaging to the public, resorting to romanticizing and simplifying the topic.
Desire Me (1946): LeRoy attempted to reshoot an uncompleted George Cukor project starring Garson and Robert Mitchum, Desire Me, but abandoned the film, disparaging the “rotten script, a script that made absolutely no sense.”. Neither Cukor nor LeRoy appeared in the credits.
Strange Lady in Town (1955): LeRoy's first film after returning to Warner Brothers studios as a director-producer. Garson, passed over by M-G-M to star as opera diva Marjorie Lawrence in Interrupted Melody (1955), signed with Warners to make Strange Lady in Town, a western set in Santa Fe, New Mexico and endowed to Garson's satisfaction “with horses and sunsets.” Dana Andrews co-stars.
Wartime propaganda: 1944-1945
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944) recounts the 1942 U.S. bombing mission over Tokyo by sixteen B-25s, coordinated by Lieutenant-Colonel James H. Doolittle (played by Spencer Tracy). LeRoy employs flashbacks in an effort to present the personal lives of the airmen and their spouses, including an emotionally wrought scene in which the wounded Lieutenant Ted W. Lawson (played by Van Johnson) has his leg amputated.
Conceived as a morale-builder for the homefront, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, with a script written by Dalton Trumbo “lacks the scope and organization” and compares unfavorably to director John Cromwell's 1943 Since You Went Away according to critic Kingsley Canham. The rescue sequences of the downed American flyers’ by Chinese guerrillas was designed “to foster closer relations ‘between the American People and their courageous Chinese allies’” and includes a scene with Chinese children at a mission hospital honoring the airmen with a rendition of Katherine Lee Bates’ patriotic anthem America the Beautiful.
The House I Live In (1945), Documentary short: LeRoy reports in his memoir Take One that Frank Sinatra approached him in 1945 with the idea of making a short movie version based on the song by Abel Meeropol The House I Live In. LeRoy thought it a worthy project and “a good thing to do during the wartime years.” The script was written by Albert Maltz and produced by Frank Ross directed the short and Leroy produced.
The House I Live In garnered LeRoy a special Oscar for his role as producer in the short film, the only Academy Award he would ever receive. In appreciation for LeRoy's contributions to The House I Live In, Frank Sinatra presented him with a medallion bearing the Jewish Star of David on one side and a Saint Christopher medal on the obverse.
Postwar Hollywood in the 1940s
The Hollywood film industry reached its zenith in productivity, profitability and popularity at the end of WWII. The studios collectively enjoyed their most lucrative year in 1946, with gross earnings reaching 1.75 billion dollars. In the closing years of the decade, organized labor won wage increases of 25% through protracted strikes. Overseas markets imposed substantial taxes on Hollywood films. Studios reacted by cutting expenses on film production and ordering mass layoffs. Historians Higham and Greenberg describe the qualitative impact on Hollywood films:
“Sudden economy waves threw thousands out of work. Budgets were cut, crowd scenes minimized, epics involving large and expensive sets abandoned in favor of stories emphasizing ‘story’ and ‘realism’ rather than lavish production values...efficiency was the keynote everywhere...”
The formerly “glossy” productions were often replaced with lower budget black-and-white films, employing smaller casts and using indoor stages, rather than expensive on location sites.
Compounding the financial crisis was the Red Scare launched against purported Communist influence in Hollywood. The leading studio executives expelled many of the most talented figures in collaboration with House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Accused of introducing Communist content into productions, the departure of Leftist screenwriters, directors and actors removed a creative element that had for years contributed to the high calibre and profitability of Hollywood pictures. These purgings were considered, in some financial circles and the anti-communist establishment, a necessary corrective to labor militancy in the industry: “To some observers, [the blacklist] represented a long overdue housecleaning process; to others it meant the beginning of an era of fear, betrayal and witch-hunting hysteria.”
Leroy reflected on the Red Scare in his 1974 memoir:
“I am strongly pro-American and I had come to recognize that some Communist propaganda was creeping into movies. I felt it was a good thing to root that out, but I deplored that excesses that went into the rooting-out process...there were writers who were supposedly on the Hollywood blacklist that I trusted...I had used Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood Ten, as writer on Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo in 1945. He turned out a great American story for me, and it had not the slightest hint of anything subversive in it....[The Red Scare] was a sorry period for human relations. Out of fear and self-preservation, men and women informed on their friends, even on their husbands or wives.”
By the close of the Forties, the drain of artistic talent, the emerging television industry, and litigation that led to the weakening of studio monopolies destabilized the film industry, initiating a decline in the heretofore unlimited power and profitability of the Hollywood movie empire.
Comedies, melodramas and a literary remake: 1946-1950
Without Reservations (1946): LeRoy's post-war pictures began with a Claudette Colbert vehicle (reminiscent of her role in It Happened One Night (1934)), with John Wayne as “Rusty” in an uncharacteristic romantic-comedic role. Colbert, as “Kit”, utters the memorable and mildly impious phrase “Thanks, God. I'll take it from here”. This is also the title of the book, by Jane Allen and Mae Livingston on which the movie is based.
Homecoming (1948): Like director William Wyler's 1946 The Best Years of Our Lives, LeRoy's Homecoming dramatizes an ex-servicemen's readjustment to civilian life. The gravity of the treatment is established in the title of Sidney Kingsley novel on which the film is based, The Homecoming of Ulysses (1944), invoking Homer's ancient Greek epic. Clark Gable plays Ulysses "Lee" Johnson, a recently discharged war surgeon whose self-complacency is shaken by his personal and professional combat experiences, softening his misanthropy and easing a nexus with his estranged wife. Anne Baxter. In the third of her three film pairings with Gable, Lane Turner plays an “uncharacteristically unglamorous” Lt. Jane "Snapshot" McCall.
Little Women: One of several film adaptations of Louisa May Alcott's Civil War era literary classic. The M-G-M Technicolor production offers “a picture postcard prettiness” in lieu of credible performances by June Allyson, Janet Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor and Margaret O'Brien.
Any Number Can Play (1949): Based on an Edward Harris Heth novel, the film describes the personal and professional crisis of a casino owner of high rectitude Clark Gable who also plays for high stakes, with his family relations in the balance. LeRoy was perplexed that the compelling screenplay by Richard Brooks and excellent performances delivered by Gable and Alexis Smith did not register at the box-office. LeRoy reflected on the picture: “I don't know what went wrong. You start out with what you think is a good script and you get a good cast...[but] you end up with a film that is less than you expect. Something happened or, more likely, something didn't happen - the chemistry didn't work and the emotions didn't explode. Whatever the reason, Any Number Can Play was a disappointment to me."
East Side, West Side (1949): A “dramatic social melodrama”, the east-side, west-side refers to the class differences that define and divide the “superlative cast” in this M-G-M “high gloss” production. Barbara Stanwyck, plays the betrayed spouse, supported by co-stars James Mason, Ava Gardner and Van Heflin.
Quo Vadis (1951): Biblical spectacle
Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer's Quo Vadis (1950) dramatizes an episode in the apocrypha Acts of Peter. The Latin title translates as “Where are you going?”, adapted from a novel by Nobel Laureate author Henryk Sienkiewicz.
LeRoy's recognized that the Hollywood film industry would be best served by “accommodating” the emerging popularity of television, envisioning a division of mass entertainment function: TV would do small scale, low-budget productions dealing with “intimate things”, while the motion picture studios would provide “the bigger, broader type of film.” LeRoy's turn to “gigantic spectacle” coincided with the early onset of Hollywood's relative decline, as described by film historians Charles Higham and Joel Greenberg:
At the close of the Forties [1940s], “something vital seemed to be ebbing away ever more swiftly from the films of Hollywood, a process accelerating in the early Fifties, reaching a climax with the introduction of CinemaScope...the Forties may now be seen as the apotheosis of the U.S. feature film, its last great show of confidence and skill before it succumbed artistically to the paralyzing effects of bigger and bigger screens and the collapse of the star system.”
Cecil B. DeMille, director of the silent film The Ten Commandments, counseled LeRoy on the worthiness of cinematic biblical epics:
“I’ll tell you Mervyn, the Bible has been a best-seller for centuries. Why let two thousand years of publicity go to waste?”
Logistically, Quo Vadis presented an “enormity.” Filmed at the Cinecittà Studios in Rome, the production required the mobilization of tens-of thousands of extras, over nine months of shooting and an immense financial risk for M-G-M.
Leroy welcomed the services of an American Jesuit priest assigned to act as a technical advisor on the production. The director was granted a personal audience with Pope Pius XII and upon LeRoy's request, the Pope blessed the script of Quo Vadis.
Musicals and momantic comedies: 1952-1954
Lovely to Look At (1952): A re-make of the 1935 Astaire-Rogers musical scored by Jerome Kern, Roberta, directed by William A. Seiter. Vincente Minnelli organized the extravagant fashion show finale, with costumes by Adrian
Million Dollar Mermaid (1952): An aquatic-themed biopic loosely based on the life of Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman, portrayed by Esther Williams and aided by LeRoy's “competent direction.” Busby Berkeley stages his lavishly produced underwater Oyster ballet.
Rose Marie (1954): An adaption of a stage operetta by Otto Harbach and previously filmed by M-G-M in silent and sound versions, the Leroy adaption starred Ann Blyth and Howard Keel. his final effort with M-G-M before he returned to Warner Brothers.
LeRoy attributes his disaffection from M-G-M to a professional incompatibility with Dore Schary, who had recently replaced Louis B. Mayer as head of production: “[Schary] and I never really did see eye-to-eye on most things...since he was then running the studio, it didn't seem to make much sense for me to stick around.”
Warner Brothers redux: 1955-1959
After completing his last production featuring Greer Garson in Strange Lady in Town (1955), LeRoy turned largely to adapting Broadway successes, serving as producer and director and often enlisting casts from the original stage productions.
Mister Roberts (1955)
Warners tasked LeRoy and Joshua Logan with completing Mister Roberts after the original director John Ford was hospitalized with a gallbladder disorder and removed from the production. Ford's departure and substitution proved to be fortuitous. Henry Fonda, screen star in several Ford pictures and the lead actor in the highly acclaimed Mister Roberts) 1948 Broadway production, was at odds with Ford's film adaption: the two engaged in a demoralizing contretemps that threatened to undermine the project.
Return to director-producer
LeRoy assumed the dual role of director-producer in the late Fifties and Sixties- the declining period of the Hollywood Golden Age, primarily serving at Warner Studios, but also 20th Century Fox, Columbia and Universal. Critic Kingsley Canham offers the following appraisal of LeRoy's work in this period:
“Leroy's work in the later half of the Fifties and Sixties has been largely confined to adaptations of stage successes, interspersed with the odd drama such as The FBI Story (1959), The Devil at 4 O’Clock (1961) and Moment to Moment (1966). Many of the former displayed an unhappy tendency toward excessive length or they padded out a basically funny situation beyond its endurance (e.g. A Majority of One  and Wake Me When it's Over ), tending to make one feel that LeRoy was better off in the Thirties when he had to work in the more restricted confines of the old Hollywood system when it was at its peak...whereas [the] Fifties signaled the death knell of the Old Hollywood, leaving directors like LeRoy to struggle with unsuitable material, assigned to them by virtue of their past reputations.”
Despite these developments, LeRoy remained a profitable asset in the film industry.
The Bad Seed (1956): The film is based on a story by William March about a disturbed eleven-year-old girl whose murderous behavior is credited to her genetic heritage: she is the granddaughter of a notorious serial killer. Maxwell Anderson's 1954 stage production enjoyed success and Leroy imported most of the cast for his film adaption, including child actor Patty McCormick. The Motion Picture Production Code required that the child murderess perish for her crimes, and LeRoy dispatches her with a lightning bolt. Leroy recounts his struggle with censors:
“I couldn't budge the Johnston Office people...In those days, long before the rating system, there was no halfway about it...You either got a seal of approval or you didn't, and Jack Warner wasn't about to release the film without that seal. So we had to change the ending. John Lee Mahin dreamed up the idea of having the child killed by a bolt of lightning. The Johnson Office gave us their blessing when we showed them the revised script.”
Toward the Unknown (1956): A sympathetic dramatization post-Korean War of a former Korean war POW William Holden, who struggles to recover from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and return to service as a test pilot in the U.S. Air Force.
No Time for Sergeants (1958): Novelist Mac Hyman's hillbilly protagonist Will Stockdale gained popularity in comic book form and was adapted to the stage by Ira Levin. Andy Griffith played the lead and Nick Adams his sidekick in LeRoy's film adaption.
Home Before Dark (1958): Based on a story and screenplay by Robert and Eileen Bassing, LeRoy examines the struggle of a former mental patient (Jean Simmons) to normalize her relationships with her husband (Dan O'Herlihy) who she suspects of having an affair with her half-sister (Rhonda Fleming).
The FBI Story (1959): A hagiographic review of federal law enforcement figure Chip Hardesty, vetted by the LeRoy's close personal friend and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and starring James Stewart. For his services in directing and producing The FBI Story, the agency honored LeRoy with its Distinguished Service Award.
Wake Me When It's Over (1960), 20th Century Fox: A comedy-of-errors involving the appropriation of post-WWII era army surplus to build a resort on a remote Japanese island occupied by US troops. Starring Ernie Kovacs and Dick Shawn.
The Devil at 4 O'Clock (1961), Columbia Pictures: A priest (Spencer Tracy) and a convict (Frank Sinatra) join forces to rescue children from a leper colony when a volcano eruption threatens their Polynesian island.
A Majority of One (1961): Warner Brothers: An adaption of the successful Leonard Spigelgass play directed by Dore Schary. Stage actors Gertrude Berg and Cedric Hardwicke were replaced by producer Jack L. Warner with film stars Rosalind Russell and Alec Guinness as the romantic leads, set in Japan.
Gypsy (1962), Warner Brothers: LeRoy returned to musicals with a portrayal of the young Gypsy Rose Lee in her early career as a burlesque stripper, played by Natalie Wood and Rosalind Russell as her domineering stage mother.
Following Moment to Moment, disputes with Universal production head Edward Muhl over studio-proposed screenplays led to Leroy's return to Warner Brothers under Jack Warner's auspices. There he embarked on several projects, including preproduction for an adaption of James Thurber's The 13 Clocks, a tale that Leroy believed “had the makings of another The Wizard of Oz.” When Warners was purchased by The McKinney Company, executives cancelled the project and Leroy quit the studio.
The Green Berets (1968): Uncredited advisor
LeRoy served for over five months as an uncredited advisor on the 1968 The Green Berets, co-directed by Ray Kellogg and John Wayne and based on Robin Moore's 1965 collection of short stories.
The studio producing The Green Berets, Seven Arts, after recently acquiring Warners, were concerned that Wayne's dual role as actor-director was beyond his abilities. LeRoy describes his enlistment in the project and the suggests the extent of his contribution:
“Eliot Hyman [head of Seven Stars operations] told me that I had a free hand with the picture. I could do anything I wanted - even close it down if I felt it should be shut down...When I got to Fort Benning, Duke [Wayne] and I had a long talk and straightened out the question as to how I could help him. Then I took over and assisted Duke with the directing whenever he thought he needed me…”
Leroy added that he “was on the picture for five and a half months...I didn't do it for nothing of course, but I wouldn't let them put my name on it, as I didn't think that would be fair to Duke.” LeRoy retired from Warners-Seven Arts shortly after completing The Green Berets, representing his directorial swan song.
A total of eight movies Mervyn LeRoy directed or co-directed were nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, one of the highest numbers among all directors.
LeRoy has been credited with launching or advancing the careers of numerous actors in Hollywood films when he served as director or producer at Warner Brothers and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. Biographer Kingsley Canham makes these observations:
“LeRoy's undoubted talent as a producer and a star-maker, and his knack for recognizing potential [in actors], made him an outstanding success, both critically and financially… ...in the competitive and highly-charged atmosphere [in the old Hollywood system], LeRoy spotted stars like Lana Turner, Jane Wyman, Loretta Young, Audrey Hepburn and the Dead End Kids...[and] was able to promote them in scripts that suited their personalities.”
Loretta Young: LeRoy's discovery of Loretta Young (then Gretchen Young) presents at least two distinct origin tales: Ronald L. Bowers in Film Review [April 1969]) reported that Leroy had directly solicited the 13-year-old Young in 1926 to play a juvenile part in Naughty But Nice (1927), a Colleen Moore vehicle for which Young received $80.00.
LeRoy, in his memoir Take One, offers a variation of this origin story: In 1930, Leroy reports that he recruited Young through the auspices of her mother. Leroy needed a leading lady to play opposite Grant Withers in Too Young to Marry (1931). Young's older half-sister (stage name Sally Blane) was engaged on another film, and her mother offered the younger daughter, Gretchen, as a substitute. LeRoy agreed, but changed her name to Loretta.
Clark Gable: Warner Brothers studio cast Edward G. Robinson in the role of gangster Rico Bandello in Little Caesar (1930), but Leroy was anxious to cast the part of racketeer Joe Masara. Rejecting Warners offer of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., LeRoy spotted Gable in a touring production of The Last Mile at the Majestic Theatre in Los Angeles in the role of Killer Mears, and arranged a screen test with the stage actor. Pleased with the results, LeRoy championed Gable to producers Darryl Zanuck and Jack L. Warner for the part: they emphatically rejected the prospect, objecting to his relatively large ears. LeRoy declined the opportunity to sign Gable in a personal contract, which he would later regret. Despite this, Gable credited LeRoy for elevating his prospects in Hollywood: “He always gave me credit for discovering him.” As Leroy shared in an interview with John Gillett in 1970: “I always tried to help young players- Clark Gable would have been in Little Caesar, but the front office thought his ears were too big.”
Jane Wyman: LeRoy claims Wyman as one of his discoveries, though she had already been signed by Jack L. Warner at the age of 16, though not yet cast in a production. She was selected by LeRoy to play a bit part in his 1933 Elmer, the Great. LeRoy recalled his first encounter with the actress:
“...I found [Wyman] on the [Warners] lot. Although Jack Warner had signed her, he hadn't used her in anything. I saw her walking around the lot one day in a yellow polo coat—I decided she'd be right for Elmer and put her in it. She did a beautiful job, and her career was launched.”
Lana Turner: At age fifteen, the then Judy Turner was auditioned by LeRoy in his effort to cast an actor to play Mary Clay in the 1937 social drama They Won't Forget. According to LeRoy's recollections, Turner was introduced to him as a prospect by Warner Brothers casting director Solly Baianno. LeRoy changed her name to Lana (pronounced LAW-nuh) Turner and personally groomed Turner for stardom. Leroy would also direct Turner in his 1948 Homecoming co-starring Clark Gable.
Audrey Hepburn: During casting for M-G-M's 1950 biblical epic Quo Vadis LeRoy sought an unknown actress for the role of Lygia, the young Christian loved by centurion Marcus Vinicius, played by (Robert Taylor). Audrey Hepburn was among hundreds of aspirants who were tested for the part. LeRoy reports in his memoir that he personally championed Hepburn as a “sensational” pick for the role, but the studio declined.
Robert Mitchum: LeRoy singled out 27-year-old Mitchum among the extras during the shooting of Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), casting him to play one of the crew of the "Ruptured Duck", a B-25 bomber. This was Mitchum's first role on screen, but M-G-M declined to sign him, despite LeRoy's urging. Mitchum starred with Greer Garson in Desire Me (1947), for which LeRoy's directorial contribution went uncredited.
Sophia Loren: According to LeRoy, actress Sophia Loren credits him with launching her film career. LeRoy had noticed the 16-year-old Loren among the extras assembled for a crowd scene in Quo Vadis, placing her in a prominent position where his cameras would “pick up this tall, Italian dark-eyed beauty.” Years later, Loren personally thanked him: “My Mother and I needed the money and you hired us. None of [my film career] would have happened except for you.”
LeRoy married three times and had many relationships with Hollywood actresses. He was first married to Elizabeth Edna Murphy in 1927, which ended in divorce in 1933. During their separation, LeRoy dated Ginger Rogers, but they ended the relationship and stayed lifelong friends. In 1934, he married Doris Warner, the daughter of Warner Bros. founder, Harry Warner. The couple had one son, Warner LeRoy and one daughter, Linda LeRoy Janklow, who is married to Morton L. Janklow. His son, Warner LeRoy, became a restaurateur. The marriage ended in divorce in 1942. In 1946, he married Kathryn "Kitty" Priest Rand, who had been previously married to Sidney M. Spiegel (the co-founder of Essaness Theatres and grandson of Joseph Spiegel); and to restaurateur Ernie Byfield. They remained married until his death. LeRoy also sold his Bel Air, Los Angeles, home to Johnny Carson.
A fan of thoroughbred horse racing, Mervyn LeRoy was a founding member of the Hollywood Turf Club, operator of the Hollywood Park Racetrack and a member of the track's board of directors from 1941 until his death in 1987. In partnership with father-in-law, Harry Warner, he operated a racing stable, W-L Ranch Co., during the 1940s/50s.
After being bed ridden for six months, LeRoy died of heart issues complicated by Alzheimer's disease in Beverly Hills, California on September 13, 1987 at the age of 86. He was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
|1920||Double Speed||Sam Wood||Leroy in a juvenile role, uncredited|
|1922||The Ghost Breaker||Alfred E. Green||Leroy as "A Ghost", uncredited|
|1923||Little Johnny Jones||Arthur Rosson, Johnny Hines||Leroy as "George Nelson"|
|1923||Going Up||Lloyd Ingraham||Leroy as "Bell Boy"|
|1923||The Call of the Canyon||Victor Fleming||Leroy as "Jack Rawlins"|
|1924||Broadway After Dark||Monta Bell||Leroy as "Carl Fisher"|
|1924||The Chorus Lady||Ralph Ince||Leroy as "Duke"|
Writer (comedies): 1924–1926
|1924||In Hollywood with Potash and Perlmutter||Alfred E. Green||Leroy served as a gag writer|
|1925||Sally||Alfred E. Green|
|1925||The Desert Flower||Irving Cummings|
|1925||The Pace That Thrills||John Francis Dillon||Leroy served as assistant director (uncredited)|
|1925||We Moderns||Ralph Ince|
|1926||Irene||Alfred E. Green|
|1926||Ella Cinders||Alfred E. Green|
|1926||It Must Be Love||Alfred E. Green|
|1926||Orchids and Ermine||Alfred Santell|
|1927||No Place to Go||Productions/First National Pictures||Adeliade Helbron||George Folsey||Mary Astor, Lloyd Hughes||Also released as "Her Primitive Mate"|
|1928||Flying Romeos||E,M. Asher/First National Pictures||John McDermott||Dev Jennings||Charlie Murray, George Sydney|
|1928||Harold Teen||Alan Dwan/First National Pictures||Thomas J. Geraghty||Ernest Haller||Arthur Lake, Mary Brian||Based on Carl Ed comic strip|
|1928||Oh, Kay!||E,M. Asher/First National Pictures||Carey Wilson||Sid Hickox||Colleen Moore, Alan Hale Sr.|
|1929||Naughty Baby||Richard A. Rowland/First National Pictures||Thomas J. Geraghty||Ernest Haller||Alice White, John Mulhall||Released in G.B. as Reckless Rosie|
|1937||The Great Garrick||Warner Bros.||James Whale||Ernest Haller||Brian Aherne, Olivia de Havilland|
|1938||Stand Up and Fight||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer||W. S. Van Dyke||Leonard Smith||Wallace Beery, Robert Taylor||Screenplay by James M. Cain|
|1938||Dramatic School||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer||Robert B. Sinclair||William H. Daniels||Luise Rainer, Paulette Goddard|
|1938||At the Circus||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer||Edward Buzzell||Leonard Smith||Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx|
|1939||The Wizard of Oz||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer||Victor Fleming||Harold Rosson||Judy Garland, Frank Morgan|
|1932||The Dark Horse||Sam Bischoff/First National Pictures||Alfred E. Green||Sol Polito||Warren William, Bette Davis||Unspecified contributions|
|1933||42nd Street||Warner Bros.||Lloyd Bacon||Sol Polito||Warner Baxter, Ruby Keeler||Assisted in one of the musical numbers|
|1947||Desire Me||Arthur Hornblow Jr./Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer||George Cukor||Joseph Ruttenberg||Greer Garson, Robert Mitchum||LeRoy made extensive reshoots for the picture|
|1949||The Great Sinner||Gottfried Reinhardt/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer||Robert Siodmak||George Folsey||Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner||Re-shot and re-edited portions of the film|
|1968||The Green Berets||Michael Wayne/Batjac Productions||John Wayne, Ray Kellogg||Winton C. Hoch||John Wayne, Jim Hutton||Assisted Wayne during 5 months of production|
- Finler, Joel W. (1992), The Hollywood Story (Second ed.), Mandarin, p. 458, ISBN 0-7493-0637-8
- Barson, 2020
- Baxter, 1970: p. 79: LeRoy "made at Warners some of the most polished and ambitious productions of the Thirties." And p. 71-72: Warner's "two great directors [of the Thirties] Mervyn Leroy and Michael Curtiz."
- Barson, 2020: List LeRoy's top films of the 1930s at Warners in as "Little Caesar, I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang, And Gold Diggers Of 1933." And: "They Won't Forget (1937) was the most serious drama LeRoy had been given in years... the film was a powerful indictment of political ambition."
- Barson, 2020: "LeRoy left Warner Brothers for the greener pastures of M-G-M, where he was offered an unusual deal that allowed him to function as either a producer or a director." And: "...most enduringly" his production of director Victor Fleming's Wizard of Oz.
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 4: The Armer family for "three or four generations..." p. 12-13: The LeRoys and Armers "for a couple of generations..." p. 13: LeRoy's parents had "subjugated" their Jewish ethnicity: "My family was assimilated to the point of complete absorption...San Franciscans first, Americans second, Jews third."
- Flint, 1987: "...the only child of Harry LeRoy, a department store owner, and the former Edna Armer" And: secular in that they attended synagogue "irregularly" and "many [Jewish relatives] never attended at all...his two female cousins had attended "a Catholic college." And: LeRoy "forever an only child."
- Canham, 1976 p. 133: Harry LeRoy, a "prosperous" importer/exporter.
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 14: LeRoy reports in his memoir that he was "about six months old" when he served as "papoose", but the play was not produced until 1905. And p. 43: "“...The Squaw Man. which I had appeared in when I was only six months old ...”
- Flint, 1987: "His mother left her husband when LeRoy was a five-year-old to marry a hotel-reservation salesman."
- Whiteley, 2020: "His childhood was troubled as his mother deserted the family when Mervyn was five."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 15-16: "My parents never told me why they separated, and I never asked." And: As a child LeRoy "would frequently visit" his mother and Teeples in Oakland, and his mother and father "curiously, remained good friends..my father and Teeple got along well, too."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 13-14
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 6, p. 8 (composite quote) And: p. 4-5: The "solid stone [two-story] house...collapsed" while LeRoy was sleeping in his bed on the second floor, suffering only "scratches." And p. 12: "...minor cuts and bruises." And p. 6 "...the store was a total ruin."
- Whiteley, 2020: "A year later, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed the elder LeRoy's house and import-export business, leaving him in financial ruin [and] reduced to virtual poverty…"And: "The family [LeRoy and his father] suffered poverty and had to live on charity virtually as refugees."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 10: LeRoys' father was reduced to penury and working a menial job, "the quake had wiped him out...the bankruptcy of the insurance companies meant that [his] was unreimbursed." And p. 11-12: LeRoy a "survivor" with "a kind of pride...it was as though [San Franciscans] had been reborn...for me...the change was a positive thing." And see p. 18 on the earthquake's shifting his outlook away from his father's business.
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 21: "I wanted to make some money, to help my poor [father]..."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 20-21
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 25-26: Liberty Theater juvenile roles
- Canham, 1976 p. 134: "...Roberts found a role for him in the play "The Deep Purpl"...and [LeRoy] also appeared in Little Lord Fauntleroy. And: "He did some extra word for Bronco Billy Anderson at Essanay Studios in Niles, California, but it was in vaudeville that he made his bid for fame"
Whiteley, 2020: "To make money, from the age of twelve Mervyn began to sell newspapers on the street."
Weil, 1987: "His post was outside the Alcazar theater, and almost inevitably, he was discovered by a power in the theatrical world and hired in 1912 to play the part of a newsboy in a movie."
Canham, 1976 p. 133: "...little chance" that LeRoy could be provided with a "formal education" after his setbacks. And p. 134: LeRoy "attracted the attention of stage star Theodore Roberts" who found him parts in stage productions. And p. 134 and p. 166: "No titles can be traced or remembered" from these early films at Essanay. And: In Little Lord Fauntleroy he played a "bootblack".
LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 10: "I was always outgoing, I guess I had an appealing look..." And p. 26: for juvenile roles on stage. And: p. 18: "I inherited a love of show business from my mother, and an outgoing personality from my father."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 24: LeRoy: "I began looking for [Chaplin], and would watch him at work...I acquired the props - the pants, the cane, the derby hat..." And p. 29: "...close to a thousand" competitors at the Pantages.
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 25: On the death of Harry LeRoy when his son LeRoy was 15. .
- Whiteley, 2020: "His father died in 1916, leaving Mervyn to fend for himself" LeRoy 15, going on 16 years-of-age.
Flint, 1987: "his father lost his spirit and had trouble supporting his family; he died in 1916...The youth had to sell newspapers at the age of 12 and then, at 14, sold papers by day and acted evenings in a stock company, where he perfected a Charlie Chaplin imitation. "
Whiteley, 2020: "He discovered an aptitude and liking for musical theater and in his early teens, he began to enter, and win, talent shows as a singer and Charlie Chaplin impersonator. And: LeRoy's success as a Chaplin impersonator "led to an early career in vaudeville and he toured for nine years around the national circuit first as a solo entertainer called The Singing Newsboy, and then for three years with a pianist, Clyde Cooper, as 'LeRoy and Cooper'."
- Flint, 1987: "The youth had to sell newspapers at the age of 12 and then, at 14, sold papers by day and acted evenings in a stock company, where he perfected a Charlie Chaplin imitation.
- Canham, 1976 p. 134: The act with Cooper billed as "LeRoy and Cooper, Two Kids and a Piano."
LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. The duo performed "for more than three years [1916 to 1919]
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 28: "At the time my ambition was a modest one. I wasn't looking beyond vaudeville." And pp.31-32 And p. 33: "...exciting existence for a teenager. Every day was an adventure, every night an experience." And pp. 34-35 and p. 37: "Crisscrossing the country, we got to play with most of the vaudeville acts of that era." And p. 39 on the end of the LeRoy/Cooper collaboration. And p. 40 "...well-established act..."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 pp. 40-42: "... I quit [vaudeville] in 1922 or 1923...[after lingering] around the vaudeville scene...[with Choos and Edwards]...[after I quit their troupes] I was broke...scrounging to keep body and soul together...I'd hang around with the other out-of-work performers."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 42: DeRoy, playing a delivery boy, describes the scene, in which "the Chinese man...picked me up and threw me over the railing" filmed in Fort Lee, NJ
- Flint, 1987: "At the age of 23 [sic], he got a bit part in a movie in Fort Lee, N.J., and became intrigued by film directing. (Correction: age is 19, not 23: The only Fort Lee, NJ film acting in was a Pearl White feature [possibly The Lightning Raider (1919)] in 1919, the year LeRoy turned 19 in October.)
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 49
- Barson, 2020: "His cousin Jesse Lasky helped him get a job folding costumes at Famous Players–Lasky in 1919, and from there he ascended from lab technician to assistant cameraman. LeRoy managed a parallel career as an actor, often playing juveniles in films from 1922 to 1924."
- Canham, 1976 p. 134: sequence of promotions at studio.
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 49 pay rate $12.50/week And p. 51 re: LeRoy's appeal to Lasky for promotion.
- Wood, 2009 TMC: "nepotism didn't allow [LeRoy] a free ride... Over the course of eight years, he proved himself capable of any number of jobs, including assistant cameraman, wardrobe assistant, color-tinter in the film lab, comedy writer, and bit player."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 52
- Canham, 1976 p. 134: LeRoy "perfecting a shot of moonlight on the water for a William Demille film [and] offered a chance at an assistant cameraman.
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 52: DeMille called LeRoy "a genius."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 54-55: LeRoy: "I thought I was finished in the [film] business."
- Canham, 1976 p. 134: Canham reports that LeRoy "tired" of his work on the camera and returned to vaudeville "but within a year returned to Hollywood as a juvenile [film] actor...and attended night school in the evenings..." And p. 166: "...spent six months as an assistant cameraman in 1921."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 pp. 55-56, p. 59: LeRoy: "horrible mess" And: "...immediately hired" as an extra by DeMille..."I had no major responsibilities..." And p. 60: LeRoy reports he "decided to continue with acting for a while: after his work as an extra for The Ten Commandments.
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 59: "I learned much about the handling of crowds from my experience on The Ten Commandments...I kept my eyes open and watched the Master [DeMille]...at work."
- Tibbetts, John C. ed. American Classic Screen Profiles, Scarecrow Press (2010) p. 175
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 41: At age 22 "I still looked like a teenager..."And: p. 52: "...somewhere between 115-120 pounds..." in his youth. And: p. 65: "...short enough to play a jockey..." according to Jack Warner, who cast him as a jockey in Little Johnny Jones (1930). And p. 92: p. 92: In 1930, he was down to "120 pounds or so..."
- Flint, 1987: "The movie maker was a short (5 feet 7 1/2 inches)..."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. pp. 60-61: And p. 54: LeRoy reports chauffeuring Betty Compson to her social events, but shunning him as an escort.
- Canham, 1976 p. 166: Canham does not know film titles for "1920" films with Swanson and Compson. Played with Wallace in Double Speed (1920)
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 pp. 67-68
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 pp. 169-173: personal and professional relationship with Colleen Moore. And: 75-76: first directorial assignment
- Canham, 1976 p. 135 And: p. 167
- Barson, 2020: "LeRoy moved behind the scenes, writing gags (and sometimes more) for such Colleen Moore pictures as Sally (1925), Ella Cinders (1926), and Twinkletoes (1926)."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 76-77: LeRoy's first film as a director. And p. 167: Also released as "Her Primitive Mate" And p. 83: "Harold Teen turned out to be my first big box-office hit."
- Canham, 1976 p. 135: "...slender content but successive contemporary reviews pointed out [LeRoy's] growing skill in developing his material."
- Barson, 2020: "he commenced this most-important phase [yet] of his career with such low-budget efforts as Harold Teen (1928) and Oh Kay! (1928). Hot Stuff (1929), a comedy with Alice White, was his first sound picture, and White also starred in Broadway Babies (1929) and Show Girl in Hollywood (1930)..."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1976 p. 89: Jack Warner offered LeRoy his first chance to make sound pictures. And p. 113: Marries Doris Warner, Jack Warner's niece, Leroy becomes Jack Warner's nephew-in-law.
- Sarris, 1998: Warner Brothers "swallowed up Vitagraph and First National Pictures in 1925...
Georgaris, 2020: Quoted in TSPDT: "LeRoy established his reputation in the 30s when he directed for Warner Bros. and their subsidiary First National several powerful social dramas..."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1976 p. 89
- Baxter, 1968 p. 71-72
- Baxter, 1968 p. 10: "Michael Curtiz made 44 films between 1930 and 1939, Mervyn LeRoy 36, John Ford 26..."
- Canham, 1976 p. 136: Warner Brothers "prolific output"
- Baxter, 1970 p. 22: M-G-M "uncontested" in this regard. And p. 46: Paramount's European orientation discussed, re: sister studio UFA in Berlin And p. 69: Paramount "upper class" and M-G-M "middle class"<nr>Sarris: M-G-M's "middle-brow tastes" and "the timidity of the content" after 1934. And: Paramount's "tradition of elegance" and its "Europeanized sensibilities".
- Georgaris, 2020: quoted in TSPDT: "LeRoy did his best work at Warner Bros. in the 1930s, turning out a string of gritty realistic films which reflected the hardships of Depression-era America..."
- Canham, 1976 p. 139 And p. 149: "...the average Warner film ran seventy to eighty minutes..."
- Baxter, 1970 p. 79:
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 115
- Sarris, 1998:"A Warners B picture seldom ran more than seventy minutes. MGM and Paramount production values padded their Bs to the eighty- and ninety-minute mark without adding anything of substance or originality."
- Baxter, 1968 p. 69
Canham, 1976 p. 139
- Weil, 1987: "Through the 1930s, he directed many of the fast-paced melodramas that gave the Warner Bros. studio a reputation for films embodying hard-grained social realism."
Sarris, 1998: "Not for Warners were the longueurs of MGM and the polish of Paramount. A Warners' B picture seldom ran more than seventy minutes. MGM and Paramount production values padded their Bs to the eighty- and ninety-minute mark without adding anything of substance or originality.
Flint, 1987: "Mr. LeRoy was a keen, adaptable director who made mostly taut, punchy, socially critical films at Warner Brothers for a decade..."
- Baxter, 1968 p. 79-80
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 93-94
- Kutner, 2011: "Josef von Sternberg's Underworld (1927)... with its light-hearted gangster protagonist, is a veritable romp" compared to LeRoy's subsequent film noir efforts.
- Flint, 1987: LeRoy "became a director to watch when he filmed Little Caesar, a riveting 1930 expose of a vicious mobster (Edward G. Robinson). The movie rocked the nation and spawned a spate of gangster films. "
Sarris, 1966 p. 15
- Baxter, 1971. p. 39: "...it was not until Little Caesar and The Big House (1931) that any real attempt was made by Hollywood to describe the brutal reality of the criminal world."
Sarris, 1966. p. 15-16: Sternberg's Underworld "... steers clear of sociological implications of his material. ... " and "law and order ... never related to society but rather to an implacable Fate ..."
- Barson, 2020: " then came Little Caesar (1931), the film that made LeRoy's reputation, with Edward G. Robinson as a Capone-like crime czar. It stands as one of the seminal gangster pictures, along with William Wellman's The Public Enemy (1931) and Howard Hawks's Scarface).
Whiteley, 2020: "In 1931 he confirmed his rising star status with two important films, the Oscar-nominated 'Five Star Final' and the influential gangster classic 'Little Caesar', starring Edward G Robinson, which marked the start of a succession of gangster films made by the Warner Bros studio."
- Baxter, 1976 p. 79-80: "...begins as criticism and modulates to grudging admiration...until we find ourselves distressed by his death in a back alley...moved by his final bemused words ‘My God [sic], is this the end of Rico?'"
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 97
- Canham, 1974 p. 142-143: Robinson's "tour-de-force" performance in Two Seconds..."
Weil, 1987: "Through the 1930s, he directed many of the fast-paced melodramas that gave the Warner Bros. studio a reputation for films embodying hard-grained social realism.
- Baxter, 1970 p. 80: Notes on Two Seconds: "Warners...provided LeRoy with a strongly biased towards social comment. The premise is disturbing." And p. 81: "...vicious and disenchanted..."
Safford, 2005 TMC: "Five Star Final (1931)...addressed a different type of social problem - tabloid journalism...[an] exploitative mix of personal tragedies, prurient interest and rumors as facts, often destroying lives and careers in the process..."
Wood, 2009 TMC: In Two Seconds " a condemned criminal [former construction worker] whose life unfolds in flashback at the moment of his electrocution."
Baxter, 1970: "...Vicious...unrelieved in its dark mood..."
- Flint, 1987: The film an "explosive drama"..."
Baxter, 1968: "a ruthless attack on social injustice..."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 pp. 111=112: LeRoy on film's condemnation of the Georgia penal system: "I was just the instrument through which the [film] industry acted..."
- Whiteley, 2020: "His new fame was secured by I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang,' in 1932, a compelling movie based on a true story, starring Paul Muni, and which created a political storm when it came out, leading to major legal and penal reforms" [in Georgia].
- Baxter, 1970 p. 80: Baxter describes the "hissed" exchange between Muni and actress Glenda Farrell.
Barson, 2020: "One of LeRoy's most notable films was I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932), a blistering adaptation of Robert E. Burns's account of his horrible experiences in a Georgia prison camp. The film and Paul Muni's harrowing portrayal of the unjustly imprisoned convict were nominated for Academy Awards.
- Canham, 1976 p. 143: "Muni's...outstanding performances under LeRoy's direction..."
- Baxter, 1970 p. 84: The World Changes "tedious in the extreme, but competently executed [despite the] wretched script...a feeble story."
Carr, 2014 TMC
Axmaker, 2014 TMC
- Landazuri, 2008 TMC
- Canham, 1974 p. 143: a "wildly paced" Hard to Handle, "a Cagney vehicle..."
- Weil, 1987: "[LeRoy] was a success with comedy and romance, musical and melodrama."
- Canham, 1974 pp. 145-146: The film quickly establishes "social and historical context...cross-cutting increases suspense...camera movements and dialogue in neat transitions enforce intelligent points without any need for elaboration...the climax [Dvorak's suicide] is brilliantly handled..." And p. 147: "...the reality and exactness of the atmosphere lend themselves to a framework of social criticism without making this the motivating factor."
Baxter, 1970 p. 82: The film employs "some neat transitions" with which Leroy makes his points ``quickly and with intelligence."
- Baxter, 1970 pp. 82-83: "the great Warner musicals of the Thirties..."
Canham, 1974 pp. 145-146
- Baxter, 1970 p. 83
Barson, 2020: "it was the musical Gold Diggers of 1933 that became a classic. A follow-up to 42nd Street (1933), directed by Lloyd Bacon, LeRoy's musical had essentially the same cast and dance director Busby Berkeley, who staged such memorable production numbers as "We're in the Money", " "Remember My Forgotten Man," and "Pettin' in the Park."
Nixon, 2013 TMC: quote on "surreal" etc.
- Nixon, 2013: "...the frivolous story was steeped in a conflict between haves and have-nots...a musical that was specifically about the country's economic hard times...the movie concludes with the most downbeat ending of any musical before... inspired by the recent disastrous Bonus March, in which downtrodden veterans of World War I were brutally rebuffed in their attempt to claim their government pensions."
- Georgaris, 2020: Sarris quoted in TSPDT
- Canham, 1976 p. 147: "...the spectacular staging of the Busby Berkeley routines tends to divorce the plot and LeRoy's skillful direction from the mass of material written about the film." And: Canham singles out Aline MacMahon as "Trixie" for special mention "outstanding performance."
- Baxter, 1970 p. 83: Comments on "heroines", Trixie "ruthless." And p. 84: "In the end, Berkeley's dance numbers seem an imposition on LeRoy's skillful comic pattern; without them Gold Diggers might well be an even more entertaining film than it is now."
- Canham, 1974 p. 147-148: MacMahon in "an arresting dramatic character study..."
- Baxter, 1970 p. 83: Trixie "ruthless" and "delightfully opportunist"
Nixon, 2013: "The comedic center of the film was still the [romantic] efforts of a group of showgirls [and] pushed the limits of censorship with an eroticism unprecedented for the genre."
- Stafford, 2011 TMC: "highlighted by versatile supporting actress Aline MacMahon in her first top billed film role. The movie also prefigures The Petrified Forest (1936) by two years with a similar setting and plot."
- Miller, 2014 TMC
- Canham, 1976 p. 149: LeRoy presents a "...paternalistic [oil] ‘Company'..." rather than the "ruthless" organization that author Hobart described in her novel [and] a happy ending tacked on..." And p. 150: filming methods and effects discussed.
- Baxter. 1970: p. 84-85: "A tough and complex study [of the] Company's all pervading influence" in the life of its employees. And: His spouse's "wifely pride and despair" at her husband's struggle: "The film pulls few punches."
- Miller, 2007 TMC: "Alice Tisdale Hobart's book had spent more than a year on the best-seller list while also attracting attention for its attack on the heartless management policies of U.S. oil companies. Some of that spirit was retained in Warner Bros.'s film version..."
- Thames, 2007 TMC: "...based on a stage musical by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein that debuted on Broadway September 3, 1929."
- Canham, 1976 p. 150: See here for films with Davies and Francis
- Baxter, 1970: Baxter makes no mention of these films in his overview of Thirties films.
Miller, 2004 TMC: On Hearst and Davies
LoBianco, 2014 TMC: "...a story so perfectly suited to her talents..."
- Barson, 2020: "LeRoy was finally given a prestige property with Anthony Adverse (1936), a hugely successful costume drama set in the 18th century and based on the Hervey Allen best seller."
Canham, 1976 p. 151: "...a story that had too many possibilities [for film adaption]...it is a sprawling but busy picture..." (italics in original)
- Baxter, 1970 p. 85: "...the sprawling Hervey Allen novel of Napoleonic Europe..."
LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 128: LeRoy: "...a romantic adventure film..."
- Canham, 1976 p. 150: LeRoy's "most ambitious film of the Thirties..."
Steinberg, 2009 TMC: "...very much a prestige project of its era...the impressive production values..." And: The studio was "eager to demonstrate that they could mount a lush [costume drama] as well as the next studio."
- Baxter, 1970 p. 85-86: LeRoy endowing the picture with "Metro-like glossiness...suggesting a taste" for the M-G-M style "which may explain his decision to change studios." And: shortly after competing Anthony Adverse in 1938 LeRoy "went to Metro to become executive producer on The Wizard of Oz (1939)."
- Canham, 1976 p. 151: "lively" and "excellence" quotes
Steinberg, 2009: "...problems of scale in distilling the 1,200+ page book into two hours and twenty minutes of screen time, problems that were apparent even to critics of its day. Still, the impressive production values and the efforts of a uniformly fine cast make any kind of offhanded dismissal unwarranted."
- Baxter, 1970 p. 86: "...successful for historical pageant and personal drama, especially interesting for Fredric March [in the title role]."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 126
- Canham, 1976 p. 177
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 133: LeRoy: "[Three Men and a Horse] and my next [comedies] were not great but good enough to keep my non-flop record intact."
- Fristoe, 2006 TCM: "The scenario, set in Paris, was created by Groucho Marx and his old friend Norman Krasna. The monarch is played by Belgian actor Fernand Gravey, making his American film debut after a long career in French films. The chorus cutie is Warner Bros. standby Joan Blondell,
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 133
- Baxter, 1970 p. 79
- Barson, 2020: "They Won't Forget (1937) was the most serious drama LeRoy had been given in years. Based on a novel by Ward Greene that dramatized the 1913 rape and murder of a 15-year-old Atlanta girl (played by Lana Turner, who was under personal contract to LeRoy) and the subsequent trial, the film was a powerful indictment of political ambition."
Looney, 2002. TMC
Canham, 1976 p. 151-152: "...a stinging attack on [racial] prejudice and mob law..."
- Canham, 1976 p. 152: "The film's visual power retains its impact for modern audiences..." And: Canham describes the scene depicting the murder of Mary Clay Lana Turner (in her feature debut) and "the mail-sack [visual] metaphor for the off-screen lynching."
Baxter, 1970 p. 86: Baxter notes the films "is visually patchy" but achieves "the visual triumph" of some of his earlier work, citing the "mailbag" visual metaphor re: the lynching and the scene depicting Lana Turner's sordid demise "at the bottom of a lift shaft."
- Baxter, 1970 p. 86: Leroy's "refusal to mitigate the mob's act by suggesting as did Fritz Lang's Fury (1936), that lynchers are only human, gives it a typical LeRoy tone of righteous outrage. There is no forgiveness, he suggests, for people like [prosecutor] Rains, least of all from their own consciences. They won't forget, and nor do we."
- Whiteley, 2020: “In 1938 LeRoy's successful record was recognized when he was offered and accepted the title of Production Executive at MGM, the most successful studio in Hollywood.
Baxter, 1970 p. 89: A major force "financially, at least"..."
LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 134-135: Leroy: "The idea of going over to MGM appealed to me...Mayer offered me a fantastic salary..."And: LeRoy describes his close personal relationship with Mayer.
- Baxter, 1970 p. 89: The film "interesting for its French star, Fernand Gravet, but little else."
Canham, 1076 p. 177
LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 133
Barson, 2020: "But then came the frothy Fools for Scandal (1938), starring Carole Lombard and Fernand Gravet...These last two films were also produced by LeRoy, but it was becoming clear that Warner Brothers had no sense of what projects best suited him."
Whiteley, 2020: "In 1938 LeRoy's successful record was recognized when he was offered and accepted the title of Production Executive at MGM, the most successful studio in Hollywood."
- Barson, 2020: "LeRoy left Warner Brothers for the greener pastures of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), where he was offered an unusual deal that allowed him to function as either a producer or a director. He began by producing the films of other directors: Robert Sinclair's Dramatic School (1938), W.S. Van Dyke's Stand Up and Fight (1939), Eddie Buzzell's At the Circus (1939), and, most enduringly, Victor Fleming's The Wizard of Oz (1939)."
- Whiteley, 2020: "LeRoy's time at MGM was noteworthy for the change in the emphasis and genres of his movies."
- Baxter, 1970 p. 89-90: Rainer "an actress apparently limited in talent..."
- Whiteley, 2020: His first production for his new employer was Dramatic School in 1938."
- Nixon, 2004 TCM: "The screenplay came from...and Murfin [who] penned several Katharine Hepburn films, including the screen adaptation of Booth Tarkington's novel Alice Adams (1935)...James M. Cain...was best known for gritty urban crime thrillers."
- Whiteley, 2020: "LeRoy produced the Marx Brothers hit movie At the Circus."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 136-137: LeRoy: "...a gigantic headache...I wanted to direct it..."
Canham, 1976 p. 153
Baxter, 1970 p. 85
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 136-137
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 137-138 And p. 139: Re: change from director George Cukor to Victor Fleming "...a great director, who had that fantasy touch we needed."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 140
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 136: LeRoy: "...a fantastic salary...twice what I was making at Warners."
- Flint, 1987: "The movie maker worked easily with such widely feared studio chiefs as Jack L. Warner and Louis B. Mayer and, by 1938, was earning $300,000 a year."
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 136:
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 143
- Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 7-8
- Sarris, year, Oxford University Press
- Whiteley, 2020: "LeRoy's time at MGM was noteworthy for the change in the emphasis and genres of his movies. After the hard hitting social commentaries of his Warners career he began creating classic romantic dramas such as Waterloo Bridge"
- Georgaris. 2020: “In 1938 LeRoy switched to MGM and turned his hand to glossier, and, for the most part, less satisfactory fare.” (The Virgin International Encyclopedia of Film, 1992) And: “If his late films seem somewhat slack, he more than made up for it with his early social dramas [at Warner Brothers], which remain some of the most riveting examples of early Hollywood sound cinema." (Wheeler Winston Dixon, 501 Movie Directors, 2007) And : “LeRoy's reputation declined somewhat after WWII, when he turned out a string of mediocre entertainment films for MGM, but it revived when he returned to Warners in the mid-50s.” (The MacMillan International Film Encyclopedia, 1994). And: “He went about as far as it was possible for a contract director to go during the peak studio years of the 30s and 40s and, when the 50s decline set in, he attempted to continue as an independent producer-director for a time, albeit with only varying degrees of success.” (Joel W. Finler, The Movie Director's Story, 1985)
Feaster, 2004 TCM: “ When he moved to MGM, LeRoy turned his talents to directing high production romances and melodramas including Random Harvest (1942), Little Women (1949) and Blossoms in the Dust, which some of his critics construed as a loss of interest in social issues.”
- Landazuri, 2003. TCM: “...a remake of the popular Robert Sherwood tearjerker...”
- Barson, 2020: “Finally, in 1940, LeRoy stepped behind the camera again. His first picture was Waterloo Bridge, adapted from the Robert E. Sherwood play about a London dancer (Vivian Leigh) and a soldier (Robert Taylor) who fall in love during an air raid.
- Landazuri, 2003. TCM: Filmed by James Whale at Universal, with Mae Clarke giving the best performance of her career as Myra. It would be remade as Gaby (1956), starring Leslie Caron.”
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 146
- Baxter, 1970 p. 85: The 1940 Waterloo Bridge a LeRoy “money-spinner” for Metro.
Canham, 1976 p. 153-155: See here for Canham plot analysis and praise for acting: Though a “soap opera [it] stands on the strength of its casting...so much depends on the strength and conviction of the cast in terms of winning modern audience response.”
Higham and Greenberg 1968 p. 172-173: Higham and Greenberg describe the performance of “the leading players [Leigh and Taylor]...appalling, but the film has considerable visual charm.”
- Landazuri, 2003: “Director Mervyn Leroy, who had begun his career in silent films, knew when to let the images tell the story without dialogue, and his touch is evident in the memorable scene in the nightclub.” And: Landazuri quotes from LeRoy's memoir re: “a look, a gesture...”
LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 146-147: LeRoy: “the scene was one of those times when silence was more expressive than dialogue.” See p. 147 for full quote.
- Higham and Greenberg 1968 p. 172-173: Higham and Greenberg praise the “visual charm...of the lover's candlelit dance…” in the mostly silent restaurant scene.
- Johnson, 2002. TCM: “Based on a popular 1939 novel by Ethel Vance, Escape (1940) was one of MGM's first anti-Nazi films.”
- Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 98: LeRoy's anti-nazi film “Escape was equally crude as Frank Borzage's The Mortal Storm (1940), and even less effective...”
Johnson, 2002 TCM: “Hitler banned Escape in Germany for its critical depiction of the country. When MGM continued making anti-Nazi films, Hitler eventually banned all MGM films.”
Canham, 1976 p. 155: “...part of the anti-German propaganda which characterized American films...before Pearl Harbor.”
- Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 105: “...Metro seemed especially (and shewdly, in view of the British market) imbued with Anglophilia...with Greer Garson supplying the stiff upper lip...”
- Miller, 2009 TCM: “With [Random Harvest] and Mrs. Miniver, 1942 was definitely "The Year of Greer," as some industry insiders dubbed it...the combined success of both films made her the top female star on the MGM lot, a position she would hold through the '40s.”
- Arnold, 2012 TCM: “[Garson] had been discovered by Louis B. Mayer in London in 1938.”
- Canham, 1976 p. 157
Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 91: “Mervyn LeRoy's Blossoms in the Dust (1941) was an exquisitely designed production (photographed jointly in Technicolor by Karl Freund and Alfred E. Green) in which Greer Garson played Mrs. Edna Gladney, a Texas woman who did much to remove the nineteenth-century social stigma from illegitimate children. Anita Loos's script played free with the fact and was shamelessly sentimental, but the film nevertheless had a real feeling for the subject. As a soap opera-cum-message picture, discreetly directed and bathed in lovely pastel colors, it yielded much enjoyment.”
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 148-149
- Feaster, 2004 TCM: “Garson and Pidgeon were such a successful onscreen couple in Blossoms that they were soon paired in a number of romantic films including the enormously popular Mrs. Miniver (1942), Madame Curie (1943) and Mrs. Parkington (1944).
- Passafiume, 2007 TCM: “...Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon went on to make [six] more features together; they were teamed on the screen a total of nine times.”
- Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 91: “...an exquisitely designed production filmed by...Karl Freund...discreetly directed and bathed in lovely pastel colors...”
- Miller, 2009 TCM: “Random Harvest is often cited as one of Hollywood's all-time greatest tearjerkers. It's also considered the definitive treatment of amnesia in a romantic film.”
- Canham, 1976 p. 157: “Genteel” and “Saintly Virtue” And p. 181: Garson's “impulsive Scottish lass.”
- Canham, 1976 p. 159-160
- Canham, 1976 p. 181
- Passafiume, 2007 TCM: “Marie Curie was the first woman in France to receive a Ph.D., the first woman ever to receive a Nobel Prize, and the first person ever to receive two Nobel Prizes.”
- Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 117 And p. 172: “Nearly all of Greer Garson's pictures were unbearably glutinous...Madame Curie (1943) a preposterous version of the great scientist's life story...”
- Passafiume, 2007 TCM: “The biggest challenge for making a movie of Madame Curie was in making the unlikely subject of the discovery of radium interesting and entertaining for audiences.” And quotes from LeRoy's autobiography. Also: “Franklin very much wanted to keep the events in the film as historically and scientifically accurate as possible...he brought in Dr. Rudolph MeyerLanger, a physicist from Cal Tech, as an official technical advisor.
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 151: “"I didn't let a scene go by unless I understood it myself..."
- Feaster, 2004 TCM: “Their film match-ups proved so reliable Garson was referred to on the MGM lot as ‘the daytime Mrs. Pidgeon.’”
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 117: “...Fogelson, Greer Garson's husband...”
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 196: LeRoy: “...I tried my best to make something out of it, but I failed...It was a botch...It was the only major film ever issued with a director's credet.”
- Arnold, 2012 TCM: “LeRoy also worked, uncredited, on the Garson film Desire Me, 1947, a film released without any directing credit.”
- Arnold, 2012 TCM: “Garson was crushed...After that, she left the studio [M-G-M] and signed with Warner Bros. in early 1954 to make Strange Lady in Town.” And: Garson: “...a richly corny period story which interested me particularly because I've been a carpet actress all my life in Hollywood...I wanted to do an outdoor role, one with horses and sunsets.”
- Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 96: See Chapter 6, “War Propaganda” And: p. 110: “With U.S. involvement in the Pacific after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese...became prime targets for the Hollywood propaganda machine...”
- Canham, 1976 p. 160: “LeRoy turned his hand to war-time propaganda with Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo...”
- Canham, 1976 p. 160: “...relying on embarrassing flashbacks [that appear] delirious, or in the amputation sequence...the emotionalism is probably quite valid...but it is so overplayed that it is difficult to take seriously...”
- Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 111: LeRoy's “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, written by Dalton Trumbo...a tedious, tendentious affair, its avowed morale-boosting aim was to emphasize the close cooperation between army and navy that made the Tokyo raid possible and - ironically in view of later developments- to foster closer relations ‘between the American people and their courageous Chinese allies.” And: “...soporific”
- Canham, 1976 p. 160: “An exceptionally long film, it tries to cover similar ground as Cromwell's Since You Went Away...but Trumbo's script lacks the scope and organization of David O. Selznick's...”
- Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 111: “...avowed moral-boosting aim...” And p.113: See here praise for Cromwell's Since You Went Away as a “masterpiece” despite its “idiotic sentiments.”
- Miller, 2011 TCM: Miller disagrees: “Dalton Trumbo's screenplay is considered the best of his work before he was blacklisted in 1947.
- Canham, 1976 p. 160: Canham reports song as “America”, assumed here to be the song derived from Bates' 1895 poem.
- Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 111: Praise for Chinese allies “ironic in view of later developments...”
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 155-156: NOTE that entries on this page do not appear in Take One index under The House I Live In
- Canham, 1976 p. 181-182: “Leroy produced an Academy Award winning documentary short called The House I Live In collaboration with Frank Ross.I t was directed as Axel Stordahl.”
- Barson, 2020: “Another exercise in patriotism was a documentary short about religious tolerance, The House I Live In (1945), written by Albert Maltz (later of the Hollywood Ten), with Frank Sinatra delivering the message.”
- Barson, 2020: “LeRoy, Maltz, Sinatra, and three others won a special Oscar for the film; it was the only Oscar LeRoy would ever receive.”
- Weil, 1987: “In 1945 he made The House I Live In, starring Frank Sinatra. Mr. LeRoy's first documentary, it won a special Academy Award.``
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 174
- Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 15: “...the profitable year in the industry's history...”
- Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 15: “Labor troubles...eight-month studio union strike in 1945...crippling British taxes on overseas film earnings would drastically slash Hollywood's income....Britain announced a 75% on foreign film earnings...other sterling countries followed suit...”
- Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 15-16
- Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 16: “By far the biggest bombshell of 1947 was [HCUA] hearings to investigate alleged Communists [and] alleged communist content in some of its pictures.”
- Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 17: “What is certain is that Communist influence in Hollywood, if it ever existed, was driven out, and that the ranks of key contributors to the movie-making process were appreciably thinned...the departure of Left-oriented contributors” led to a decline in the quality and profitability of studio productions. And: The blacklist used to “establish Hollywood's political bona fides...” And: See p. 17 for quote on “witch-hunting hysteria”
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 157-158
- Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 17-18: “...at the decades end something vital seemed ebbing ever more swiftly away from the films of Hollywood, a process accelerating in the early Fifties." And p. 18: "The Forties [1940s] may now be seen as the apotheosis of the U.S. feature film, its last great show of confidence and skill before it virtually succumbed artistically to the paralyzing effects of bigger and bigger screens and the collapse of the star system."
- Weil, 1987: “In the 1950s, when the film industry seemed to be foundering, Mr. LeRoy made this observation: "Our business was built on 'moving' pictures. But too many sit and talk and talk. That's what's wrong with so many movies today."
- Thames, 2003 TCM
- Canham, 1076 p. 182: “An uncharacteristic romantic comedy vehicle for John Wayne.”
Barson, 2020: “Without Reservations (1946) was a pleasant romantic comedy with the offbeat pairing of John Wayne and Claudette Colbert.”
- Canham, 1976 p. 160: “Homecoming is...effective as nurse Lana Turner converts a narrow-minded society doctor (Gable) to understanding the reasons for American involvement in the War...the tragic ending satisfies both censorship needs and credibility.” And: p. 182: “powerful star vehicle” for Gable and co-stars.
- Steinberg, 2004 TMC: M-G-M “traded upon the public perception of [Gable]'s WWII-era triumphs and tragedies in addressing the greater issues of servicemen coming home from conflict irrevocably changed” And: “[Gable] turned to the service in 1942 after the untimely death of beloved wife Carole Lombard, who perished in a plane crash during her return from a war bond drive. Gable patently had to have tapped into these sorrows for his performance here, as the world-weariness and sense of loss that he projects as the home-bound Ulysses are palpable.” And: Lana Turner "unglamorous” character.
- Baxter, 1970 p. 168: “...flawless design by Hobe Erwin...”
- Canham, 1976 p. 161: “...emphasis was all on heart and color at the expense of credible acting performances.”
- Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 132: “...Mervyn LeRoy's unremarkable remake of Little Women (1949)...”
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 166
- Arnold, 2004 TCM: “Though Clark Gable gives a commanding performance in Any Number Can Play, backed up by a strong supporting cast, the movie was not a great success. And: “The script...by Richard Brooks from an Edward Harris Heth novel, centers on a casino owner who is ‘a nut for human dignity’...He also has a heart condition and family problems, with an estranged wife (Alexis Smith) and son (Darryl Hickman)...eventually he realizes he can have his casino or his family but not both.”
Barson, 2020: “LeRoy had not had a hit since Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, and make-work pictures such as Any Number Can Play (1949), which featured Gable as a gambler with marital problems, did nothing to reestablish him.”
- Canham, 1976 p. 182
- Landazuri, 2008. TCM: “A soap opera about infidelity and murder among New York socialites, East Side, West Side (1949) boasts a superlative cast and M-G-M's usual high gloss production values.”
Barson, 2020: “East Side, West Side (1949) had the benefit of a great cast—Ava Gardner, James Mason, Barbara Stanwyck, and Van Heflin—but was not a success.”
- Reilly, 2003. TCM: “The production of Quo Vadis came at the height of an executive power struggle at MGM (Dore Schary replaced former mogul Louis B. Mayer) and at a crucial time in the history of U.S. motion picture production because of the new competition from television. Director Mervyn LeRoy believed that motion pictures should offer larger and better spectacles in order to compete with the new medium. Whether this opinion was the result of prescience or hindsight, Quo Vadis was indeed the greatest spectacle ever made up to that time.”
- Leroy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 169: “It was a spectacle, and I wanted to make a spectacle...I whipped the monumental story into a script that was possible to film but had all the vastness the tale demanded.”
- Higham and Greenberg, 1968 p. 18
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 170
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 170: “...the enormity of the project...”
- Celia, 2003 TCM: “The logistics involved in producing a film of this magnitude were staggering. There were over two hundred speaking parts, many hundreds of workmen, and tens of thousands of extras. The company was managed in a paramilitary fashion, with group captains assigned to a specific number of extras, for whom they were responsible for everything from make-up to wages during the length of the shoot. As the first color film made at Cinecitta Studios in Rome.”
- Celia, 2003 TCM: “When the Academy Award nominations were given out for 1952, Quo Vadis received eight including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actors (Leo Genn and Peter Ustinov), Best Color Cinematography, Best Color Art Direction, Best Dramatic Score, Best Film Editing, and Best Costume Design. However, it didn't win in any category since An American in Paris, A Streetcar Named Desire, and A Place in the Sun claimed most of the major awards.”
LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 169: Leroy reports a 12 million dollar cost for the film, but a 50 million dollar gross.
Barson, 2020: “Quo Vadis (1951), MGM's $7 million epic about the persecution of Christians under the Roman emperor Nero, had actually been initiated in 1949 with John Huston directing, but LeRoy took over the production, which was filmed on location in Rome over six grueling months...Quo Vadis was MGM's second highest grossing picture ever, behind Gone with the Wind (1939).”
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 174-175
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 179: After finishing Quo Vadis “you don't try to top it with a film of the same genre, you do something far removed from it.” And p. 180: LeRoy reports rejecting new M-G-M head Dore Schary's suggestion to make The Plymouth Adventure: “I decided to shift gears...”
- Barson, 2020: “From that height [of the Quo Vadis success], LeRoy returned to more-routine projects.”
- Canham, 1976 p. 184. And p. 161: “The musical remakes, such as Lovely To Look At...reunited LeRoy with Busby Berkeley but there was less emphasis on the mechanics of the numbers than on the vocal abilities of the singing stars.”
- Barson, 2020: “Lovely to Look At (1952), with Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel, was a handsome if unnecessary remake of Roberta (1935).”
- Canham, 1976 p. 161-162: “...competent direction...” and Berkeley's “gloriously spectacular’ water ballet.
- Cox, 2004 TCM: “a story loosely based on the real-life Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman. The movie, full of romance, music, and dazzling underwater spectacles, remains one of the definitive films of Williams' career...Dominating the film are, of course, water extravaganzas orchestrated by the Million Dollar Dance Director himself, Busby Berkeley.”
Barson, 2020: “a biopic about Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman (Williams), who became a Hollywood star in the silent era; Berkeley handled the musical numbers.”
- Canham, 1976 p. 184-185
- LoBianco, 2009 TCM
- Barson, 2020: “Rose Marie (1954) was another inferior remake of a 1930s classic.”
Passafiume, 2011. TCM: “Rose Marie was based on the famous stage operetta originally written by Otto Harbach, Oscar Hammerstein II and Rudolf Friml that was first produced for the New York stage in 1924. The story had already been filmed twice before at MGM, both times to great success. The 1928 silent version featured Joan Crawford in the title role, and the 1936 version starred Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.”
Canham, 1976 p. 161: “LeRoy must take some blame for [Lovely To Look At and Rose Marie], although they reflect the gulf between the major companies and their audiences that characterized American films in the post-war period.”</re And p. 185: “...LeRoy's farewell to M-G-M...
- Passafiume, 2011. TCM: “Rose Marie would be the last film that Mervyn LeRoy ever directed for MGM. LeRoy had worked successfully at MGM for over 20 years, but he and new studio head Dore Schary butted heads frequently, and LeRoy wanted out. Rose Marie would be his MGM swan song before moving to Warner Bros.”
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 184:
- Barson, 2020: “He returned to Warner Brothers, where he both produced and directed Strange Lady in Town (1955) was a minor western starring Garson as a frontier doctor..."
- Canham, 1976 p. 164:"LeRoy's work in the later half of the Fifties and Sixties has been largely confined to the adaptations of stage successes...”
- Barson,2020: “LeRoy was asked to take over the service comedy Mister Roberts (1955) from John Ford.”
- Flint, 1987: “In early 1955 Mr. LeRoy took over the just-begun Mister Roberts from the ailing John Ford.
Cady, 2004 TCM: “After exterior shooting was completed, Ford was hospitalized with a gallbladder attack. The day he went into hospital for surgery, he was replaced by Mervyn LeRoy.”
- Barson, 2020: “LeRoy was asked to take over the service comedy Mister Roberts (1955) from John Ford, who was ill and had disagreed violently during shooting with Henry Fonda, the star of the original Broadway success.”
- Cady, 2004 TCM: “Mister Roberts (1955)...but became popular when it hit Broadway as a stage play in 1948...The play starred movie actor Henry Fonda who had left Hollywood after making Fort Apache (1948) with director John Ford. For once, that turned out to be a wise decision, as the play became one of Broadway's most popular hits.” And See Cady for description of conflict between Fonda and Ford: “The damage [between Fonda and Ford] was done and was irreparable.”
- Flint, 1987: “Movie audiences loved Mister Roberts, making it 1955's third-biggest box office hit.”
- Barson, 2020: Mister Roberts “was a major box-office hit and was Oscar nominated as best picture. For the rest of his career, LeRoy made a specialty of adapting Broadway hits.”
- Canham, 1976 pp. 164-165, And: p. 186-188, See Filmography Section for multiple studios, distributors.
- Canham, 1976 p. 164:
- Leroy and Kleiner, 1974. P. 198
- Canham, 1976 p. 185-186: “Drama about a psychotic little girl who disposes of people that upset her.”
Barson, 2020: “The Bad Seed (1956) had also been a hit on Broadway. LeRoy's popular but slavishly faithful version of Maxwell Anderson's play about a sweet little girl who is actually a murderer imported most of the original cast, of whom Nancy Kelly, Eileen Heckart, and child actress Patty McCormack all earned Oscar nominations.”
Whiteley, 2020: “In 1956 LeRoy directed The Bad Seed a sophisticated horror and suspense movie based on a stage play by Maxwell Anderson and successfully retaining most of the Broadway cast.”
Miller, 2004 TCM: “Initially, [Warner Brothers]objected to [Leroy's] plan to cast the play's leading players...in place of established box-office names like Bette Davis, who had expressed an interest in the film's leading role...He also decided to stick closely to Anderson's original screenplay, working with cinematographer Harold Rosson... And: “Warner Bros. had gotten approval for the material simply by offering to create a new ending in which Rhoda would be punished for her crimes.” And: “In another move to appease the censors, Warner Bros. added an "adults only" tag to the film's advertising. As a result, the film became one of their biggest hits of the year, grossing $4.1 million (an impressive figure for the time) and landing in the year's top 20 at the box office. The film also landed Oscar nominations for Rosson, Kelly, McCormack and Heckart...”
- Miller, 2014 TCM: under Mervyn LeRoy's direction, [Toward the Unknown] marks one of the screen's first sympathetic treatments of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder years before the condition had even been named...It even took its title from the motto of the Flight Test Center at Edwards (the motto of the Air Force Flight Test Center, Ad Inexplorata.”
- Nixon, 2009 TCM: Andy Griffith as “country bumpkin hero, Will Stockdale...brought his new critical and commercial success to [LeRoy's] film version of No Time for Sergeants, along with most of his supporting stage cast... No Time for Sergeants is one of those popular properties with a long record of success prior to the film version and an extended influence beyond it, inspiring spin-offs [including Mayberry RFD and Gomer Pyle] and imitations and boosting the careers of several of its principals (among them Don Knotts)...”
- Canham, 1976 p. 186: “...Hillbilly...”
- Barson, 2020: “Home Before Dark (1958) was a drama about a woman's (Jean Simmons) efforts to readjust to a normal life after spending a year in a mental institution.”
- Canham, 1976 p. 186: Thumbnail sketch of film
- Barson, 2020: “The FBI Story (1959) was a capsule dramatization of the agency's most famous cases; it starred James Stewart as an FBI agent and Vera Miles as his long-suffering wife.”
- Smith, 2014 TCM: “...J. Edgar Hoover himself [was the] driving force behind this Hollywood adaptation of the Don Whitehead non-fiction best-seller (issued in both adult and kid-friendly editions in 1956)...Backed by Warner Brothers...with veteran director Mervyn LeRoy (a close personal friend of Hoover) at the helm, The FBI Story fictionalized several high profile bureau cases (involving white supremacists, Dust Bowl thugs, Axis agents, and Red Menace rats) with Stewart cast as lead investigating agent Chip Hardesty...This hagiographic white-wash was vetted by the Bureau on every level...”
- Canham, 1976 p. 164: “...the odd drama, such as The FBI Story...”
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 201
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 199: “I am extremely proud of The FBI Story...It was authentic done to the last detail...I didn't want to jeopardize my personal friendship with J. Edgar Hoover by doing anything that wasn't accurate. He assigned two agents to be with [the film crew] at all times...”
- Canham, 1976 p. 187
- Barson, 2020: “The comedy Wake Me When It's Over (1960) featured Dick Shawn and Ernie Kovacs as army pals who, out of boredom, build a resort on the Japanese island where they are stationed.”
- Barson, 2020: “The Devil at 4 o’Clock (1961) starred Tracy and Sinatra in a drama about the evacuation of a children's hospital after a volcano erupts.”
- Stafford, 2004 TCM: The title of the film comes from a proverb: "It is hard for a man to be brave when he knows he is going to meet the devil at four o'clock."
- Canham, 1976 p. 188: “Convicts and a priest help evacuate a leper colony when an earthquake destroys the island,,,”
- Barson, 2020: “A Majority of One (1962) was a lengthy adaptation of the Broadway success, with the unusual casting of Rosalind Russel as a Jewish divorcée and Alec Guinness as a Japanese diplomat.”
- Canham, 1976 p. 188: “Long-winded romance between a Japanese businessman [played by Guinness] and a Brooklyn Jewess [played by Russell].”
- Miller, 2008 TCM: “Gypsy was based on the early career of Gypsy Rose Lee, the most famous stripper in burlesque history.”
- Canham, 1976 p. 188-189: “...domineering mother...”
LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 202-203: LeRoy defends his decision to not use Ethel Merman in the film production.
- Barson, 2020: “Russell was better served in Gypsy (1962) as Rose Hovick, the frightening stage mother of Gypsy Rose Lee (Natalie Wood) and Baby June (Morgan Britanny).”
Whiteley, 2020: “'Gypsy' in 1962 was his last important movie and its success caused LeRoy to be tempted away from Warners to Universal where he made what proved to be his final work, 'Moment to Moment' in 1966.”
- Whiteley, 2020: “Gypsy in 1962 was his last important movie and its success caused LeRoy to be tempted away from Warners to Universal where he made what proved to be his final work, Moment to Moment in 1966.”
- Barson, 2020: “LeRoy's last credit was Moment to Moment (1965), a romantic thriller starring Jean Seberg and Honor Blackman.”
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 pp. 217-219: See here process of LeRoy's disaffection and disengagement from Warners.”
- McGee, 2007 TCM: “Robin Moore's collection of short stories called "The Green Berets" portrayed the crack commando unit as lawless, sadistic, and racist.”
- Whiteley, 2020: “After this, disillusioned by the increasingly youth-related movie industry, he retired from film making, apart from a brief, uncredited advisory role, helping his friend, John Wayne with his movie 'The Green Berets' in 1968.”
Barson, 2020: “LeRoy also assisted Wayne on the Vietnam War film The Green Berets (1968) before retiring.”
Canham, 1976 p. 167: “[LeRoy] spent five months helping John Wayne” on the film.
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 218
- "Mervyn LeRoy | Hollywood Walk of Fame". www.walkoffame.com. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
- "Mervyn LeRoy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
- Canham, 1976: Composite quote from p. 133 and p, 164
- Canham, 1976 p. 138: “Leroy had discovered Loretta Young in 1926; she and her sister Polly Ann (professional name Sally Blane) had been extras since 1917, but had stopped working when they attended convent school... One day in 1926, Mervyn Leroy telephoned the Young residence to ask if Polly Ann could report the next day for a child part in the Colleen Moore vehicle, Naughty But Nice. Thirteen-year-old Gretchen (later Loretta) answered that phone and after telling LeRoy that Polly Ann was working on another picture, asked: ‘Would I do?’ LeRoy answered yes, and she played a bit part in a group scene and received $80.00.” (Canham quoting Ronald L. Bowers in Film Review [April 1969].)
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 91: LeRoy details his telephone conversation with the mother, and his subsequent interview with Young. And p. 193: LeRoy: “Loretta Young, the actress I found and named.”
- LeRoy and Kleiner p. 95-97 And p. 131: On signing Lana Turner to a personal contract but not Gable “I didn't make the same mistake with Lana that I made with Clark Gable.”
- Canham p. 133: Epigraph quoting LeRoy in Gillett interview at Cinema City, London,1970.
- Steinberg, 2004. TCM: Leroy “encouraged Gable earlier in [the actor's] career, wrangling him a screen test for Warners in 1930.”
- LeRoy and Kleiner pp. 115
- Canham, 1976 p, 164: Canham lists Wyman as one of LeRoy's discoveries.
- LeRoy and Kleiner p. 130
- Steinberg, 2004. TCM: “The direction of Homecoming was handled by Mervyn LeRoy, who gave Turner her memorable debut role in They Won't Forget (1937)
LeRoy and Kleiner pp. 130-132: LeRoy: “I signed her to a personal contract and supervised her career during its first critical years...”
- Looney, 2002 TCM: They Won't Forget “widely regarded as the film that launched the career of Lana Turner. Prior to it, the teenaged Judy Turner had only appeared as an uncredited extra in a few films. Even though she is only onscreen for a few minutes, the newly renamed Lana Turner makes a lasting impression.”
Weil, 1987: “Among Mr. LeRoy's Hollywood achievements was the discovery in 1937 of Lana Turner, who he said was brought to see him by Zeppo Marx.” (See LeRoy's 1974 autobiography “Take One” p. 131,that contradicts this claim.)
- Canham,1976 p. 164 LeRoy is credited by Kingley Canham as spotting Hepburn as potential star.
- LeRoy and Kleiner p. 171: “In London, I thought we had found [Lygia] when we tested a young actress named Audrey Hepburn. I thought she was sensational, but the studio took one look at the test and turned her down.”
- LeRoy and Kleiner p. 153: Mitchum "a young and interesting actor among the bit players...", p. 96: Desire Me info
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 171-172
Reilly, 2003. TCM: “And somewhere in that swaying, moving mass of humanity, look for Sophia Loren” who has a “bit part.”
- "Producer Mervyn LeRoy dies". Lodi News-Sentinel. United Press International. September 14, 1987. p. 3. Retrieved May 12, 2017 – via Google News.
- Los Angeles Times: "Kathryn LeRoy; Philanthropist, Civic Leader" February 08, 1996
- Chicago Jewish History: "Ernest Byfield: The Pump Room and The Pageant" by William Roth September 2006
- Zannella, Michael (November 25, 1974). "The Johnny Carsons". People Magazine. Archived from the original on December 19, 2017. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
- Flint, 1987: “Mr. LeRoy was married briefly in the late 1920's to Edna Murphy, a film actress. From his 11-year marriage to Doris Warner, the daughter of Harry M. Warner - one of the three Warner brothers - he is survived by a son, Warner, a New York restaurateur; a daughter, Linda Janklow of New York City; two stepdaughters, Rita Roedling of Beverly Hills and Eugenia Bucci-Casari of Rome, and six grandchildren. He is also survived by his third wife, the former Katherine Spiegel, whom he married in 1946.”
-  Archived February 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- LeRoy and Kleiner, 1974 p. 117-118: LeRoy reports that Jack Warner “took me into the stables” at the W-L Ranch, a “partnership” that later dissolved, but LeRoy continued under his own “Mervyn Leroy Stables...”
- Mervyn LeRoy at Find a Grave
- Flint, 1987: Leroy “died early yesterday [13 September 1987] at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 86 years old and had had Alzheimer's disease.”
- Whiteley, 2020: "After suffering from Alzheimer's disease for several years, Mervyn LeRoy died, aged 86, on September 13, 1987, in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, Los Angeles."
- Canham, 1976 p. 166-189
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