Mervyn LeRoy

"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… 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

Mervyn LeRoy

Director / Producer
(1900-1987) Born October 15, San Francisco, California, USA

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Drama, Melodrama, Crime, Crime Drama, Message Movie, Period Film, Romance, Romantic Drama, Thriller, War Drama, Adventure, Biography
Key Collaborators: Cedric Gibbons (Production Designer), Sol Polito (Cinematographer), Herbert Stothart (Composer), Robert Taylor (Leading Actor), Hal B. Wallis (Producer), Glenda Farrell (Leading Character Actress), Anton Grot (Production Designer), Edward G. Robinson (Leading Actor), Greer Garson (Leading Actress), John Lee Mahin (Screenwriter), Sidney Franklin (Producer), Joseph Ruttenberg (Cinematographer)

"The career of Mervyn LeRoy, one of the most successful in the heyday of the studio system, is a reflection of that system... Prolific, versatile (at home in action films, women's films, musicals, historical spectacles), LeRoy's fluency marks him as the kind of director who validates collaborative creativity. Sensitive to the particular individuals with whom he works, and to the wide-ranging needs of the various materials he treats, LeRoy offers us an image of the Hollywood technique during the development of the classic Hollywood narrative." - Charles Affron (International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, 1991)
"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, Le Roy can be delightfully entertaining." - Andrew Sarris (The American Cinema, 1968)
"LeRoy established his reputation in the 30s when he directed for Warner Bros. and their subsidiary First National several powerful social dramas... 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. He retired in the mid-60s, ending a long and on the whole distinguished career that was frequently studded with commercial and critical successes." - The MacMillan International Film Encyclopedia, 1994
"The story's the thing with LeRoy. The material dictates the style of this fine director, as exemplified by the grit of I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (32) and the romantic aura of Random Harvest (42)." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
"Prolific, mainstream Hollywood filmmaker who, while lacking the stylistic individualism that stamped the works of his more talented brethren, had an intuitive, almost uncanny grasp of what constituted successful screen entertainment… One of Hollywood's authentic elder statesmen (and biggest boosters) in later years, LeRoy tried to soft-pedal the hard edge he brought to his 1930s Warners films and claimed that all he'd ever done was try to please an audience." - Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia, 1995
"After appearing before the camera in bit parts in lightweight films, LeRoy turned his talents to gag writing, and worked on a string of popular comedies and melodramas. He made his breakthrough as a director at Warner Brothers in 1930 with the hard-boiled crime drama Little Caesar (1931)… LeRoy never lost sight of what the public wanted in its movie entertainment. If his late films seem somewhat slack, he more than made up for it with his early social dramas, which remain some of the most riveting examples of early Hollywood sound cinema." - Wheeler Winston Dixon (501 Movie Directors, 2007)
“Mervyn LeRoy spent virtually all of his long career with two of the leading Hollywood studios, Warner Bros. and MGM. 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 Directors Story, 1985)
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) ✖︎, They Won't Forget (1937)
Recommended
Little Caesar (1931) ✖︎, Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), Random Harvest (1942)
Worth a Look
Five Star Final (1931), Two Seconds (1932), Three on a Match (1932), Hard to Handle (1933), Escape (1940), Waterloo Bridge (1940), Johnny Eager (1941) ✖︎, Madame Curie (1943), Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), East Side, West Side (1949), Quo Vadis (1951), Mister Roberts (1955) [co-directed by John Ford], The Bad Seed (1956)
Approach with Caution
Anthony Adverse (1936), Blossoms in the Dust (1941), The FBI Story (1959)
Not Recommended
Little Women (1949)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
✖︎ 1,000 Noir Films
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    Little Caesar
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