Biography of Mervyn LeRoy (1900-1987)

Director, producer, actor and American screenwriter. Born in San Francisco, California (United States), on October 15, 1900, and died on September 13, 1987.


Actor with only 12 years, travels to Hollywood in 1919 with a letter of recommendation in the Pocket, to be delivered to the famous producer Jesse L. Lasky. Manages to be employed as a manager of the costumes and, later, actor, Assistant Director uncredited, gagman and screenwriter of comedies.

In 1927 he began a prolific career as a director, first at Warner Bros, where would take place, without a doubt, his best films, and then in the Metro Goldwyn Mayer. It was considered one of the pillars more solid company of the Warner Brothers during the 1930s and a great director of actors. In recent years, it is uncovered as an impeccable craftsman of realistic dramas, which perfectly reflected the growing misery in America from the depression. The best was thirst for scandal (1931), a powerful drama that denounced the corruption of the press, especially of some underlings that seek to thrive to scale position. Edward g. Robinson and Boris Karloff were heading, and the film was so successful that was the subject of an inferior remake, with the presence of Bogart, entitled Two against the world (1936).

But where LeRoy proves to have a special talent in thrillers or its variants. Caesar (1930) may not be the first film of gangsters in the history of cinema, but yes that will impose it as a popular genre. Partially based on the life of Al Capone, Caesar narrated the dizzying social ascent of Rico Bandello, who, working with his friend Joe Massara (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) for the big boss Sam Vettori, will take the place of the latter band. The shocking composition of E. G. Robinson (who until then was known for his sweet and gentle characters) and address, sober, LeRoy got to not only be a gangster and action film, but also an interesting psychological study of a series of stereotypes, residents of a society in clear decline. LeRoy already shows some guidelines which will be a constant in this type of cinema, his films; above all, lets grow the impression that the gangster is not so much an accident of fate and more a product of logical type of society in those years. Caesar was not an accident of fate. Two years later, in 1932 LeRoy directed I am a fugitive, that even if you are unable to repeat the tremendous success of 1930, offers one of the best productions of social protest were done in those years. Hard, too carelessly artistic, but honest, unadorned, the film of LeRoy had a honest man, innocent, cruelly mistreated by the justice, who sentenced him to prison, signing what immediately will be his undoing. Full of memorable moments, one of them is the distressing end, when the hero is asked what in life, Muni responds: "I steal".

LeRoy would expect a few years back to make a splendid black movie, this time in its social drama. It would be they will not forget (1937), an excellent tape, where a great Claude Rains is the little scrupulous Attorney from a small town in the American deep South which used the murder of a teenager (Lana Turner, in one of his first major roles) to storm Governor's Chair. This will enable, not to say that it will induce, to the mass, hypocritical and easily malleable, Lynch to the suspect, a teacher, which is in the pleasant little posture of being the head of a southern, amoral society Turkish and in constant search of a situation that make out of boredom. Based on a magnificent Ward Greene's novel, "Death in the deep south", LeRoy built a, still, electrifying social drama, at the height of the best.

After this film, begins a series of productions for the subway, including the wonderful Wizard of Oz (1939), Victor Fleming, and directed a hit at the box office, Waterloo, due in part to a main couple attractive Bridge: a charming Vivien Leighand Robert Taylor in the role of a dancer who falls for the first. A beautiful love story.

Back on track with an excellent gangster tale, forbidden trail (1942), where she works again with Robert Taylor and Lana Turner a disturbing. LeRoy and his screenwriter, John Lee Mahin, weave a perfect criminal story, with an intrigue that develops with the fatalistic logic of the genre. However, what distinguishes it is its dramatic appearance, something that LeRoy dominated to perfection, and his credible characters.

But Mervyn Leroy was first and foremost an institution in Hollywood, one of those professionals, illustrious craftsmen, capable of moving with the same ease in any genre, putting is always at the service of the film, without trying to make this a personal work. In the musical moved to perfection. Next to the real Wizard, Busby Berkeley, film vampire 1933 (1933), one of the capital works of the genre, with two or three anthological pure comedy sequences and another pair of unimaginable musical numbers that have become the history of the cinema. Within the family drama, it carries out the second version of the famous autobiographical novel by Louise May Alcott, little women (1949). A cast of bells (Liz Taylor, June Allyson, C. Aubrey Smith, Mary Astor, Janet Leigh, Margaret O'Brian), a brilliant production (artistic director won an Oscar) that reconstructs very well the time and a magnificent work of its actresses, serves Leroy to make an acceptable and dignified, although lower than its predecessor film.

It also showed that he could be responsible for a blockbuster when realizó Quo Vadis in 1951. A religious epic peplum that MGM threw the rest to offer the audience a great show. LeRoy AC effectively intimate moments with the tragicomic and epic that occur in the catacombs and in the Court of Nero (a huge Peter Ustinov) and, above all, he and his screenwriters know create characters. Happens that what remains in the memory of many spectators is not so much the fire of Rome or the meetings of sublime love of Deborah Kerr and Robert Taylor but some secondary figures: Leo Genn and Peter Ustinov, for example, giving a lesson of humor, one content, another, outrageous. Leroy interested him more pagan intelligent and cynical than the pious Christians.

In the 1950s, his work comes into a gradual decline, which will not even be mitigated to meet John Ford on a scale in Hawaii (1955). Return to Warner, but their films will be perfectly forgettable, even though the F.B.I. against the Empire of crime (1959), although a bit long, is a good film.

In the mid-1960s he decides that their cycle has ended and withdraws. He will write his memoirs: Mervyn LeRoy: Take One, and will receive a special Oscar in 1975 "Irving Thalberg", for his contribution to the film industry; In short, had been one of the great directors in the 1930s and a good craftsman in the 1940s.


As an actor: 1920: Double Speed. 1921: too Much Speed. 1922: The Ghost Breaker. 1923: The Call of the Canyon; Get well...; Little Johnny Jones; Prodigal Daughters. 1924: The city of laughter and tears; The Chorus Lady.

As screenwriter (or gagman): 1925: the Russian dancer; We moderns. 1926: Cinderella in Hollywood; Sick of love; Irene; The girl in the Brook. 1927: From switchboard operator to millionaire.

As Assistant Director: 1933: 42nd Street (and production of the musical numbers).

As production supervisor: 1937: The Great Garrick.

As producer: 1937: Mr. Dodd Takes the Air. 1938: Dramatic School. 1939: An afternoon at the circus; The wizard of Oz; Stand Up and Fight.

As Director:

Short films: 1945: The House I Live in (and producer).

Feature films: 1924: In Hollywood with Potash and Perlmutter (non accreditato). 1925: The Desert Flower (not credited); Sally (uncredited); We Moderns (non accreditato). 1926: Irene (not credited); It Must Be Love (not credited); (Not credited) Twinkletoes. 1927: Naughty But Nice (not credited); No Place to Go. 1928: Flying Romeos; The axe of the class; Miss unafraid; I want to a millionaire. 1929: Tenorio backstage; Its success; Little Johnny Jones. 1930: Numbered Men; Successful legs; Show girl in Hollywood; Into overdrive. 1931: Caesar; Brad-Minded; Thirst for scandal; The fate of a Knight; Local Boy Makes Good; Tonight or never; Too Young to Marry. 1932: Big City Blues; The Dark Horse; The Heart of New York; High Presure; I am a fugitive; Three lives of women; Two seconds. 1933: Elmer the Great; Vampire 1933; Hard to peel; Anne of the trailer; The world cambia.1934: in pursuit of adventure; Heat Lightning; What, Nelly? 1935: bella Adelina; His private life; Light to the East; The divine Gloria.1936: Knight Adverse; Three Men on a Horse. 1937: The King and the Chorus Girl (and producer); They won't forget (and producer). 1938: Fools for Scandal (and producer). 1940: Escape (and producer); Waterloo (and producer) bridge. 1941: heart to heart (and producer); Unholy Partners (and producer); Forbidden path (and producer). 1942: fog in the past (and producer). 1943: Madame Curie. 1944: Thirty seconds over Tokyo. 1946: Happened on the train (and actor). 1947: Desire Me (uncredited director). 1948: the rival. 1949: Little women (and producer); Do game!. 1950: Mundos opuestos. 1951: Quo Vadis (non accreditato). 1952: love was born in Paris; The first siren. 1953: My Brazilian love. 1954: Rose Marie (and producer). 1955: scale in Hawaii (code); The untamed red hair (and producer). 1956: on the edge of hell (and producer); The Bad Seed (and producer). 1958: Home Before Dark (and producer); No Time for Sergeants (and producer). 1959: F.B.I. against the Empire of crime (and producer). 1960: Wake Me When It's Over (and producer). 1961: the devil at four o'clock; A majority of One (and producer). 1962: Queen of the vaudeville (and producer). 1963: Mary, Mary (and producer). 1966: moment to moment (and producer). 1968: the Green Berets (uncredited part). 1969: Downstairs en Ramsay's. 1970: The 13 clocks.