Leo McCarey

"Irreverence and a blithe, refreshing disregard for the conventions of a genre characterized the work of McCarey, one of America's golden men of the 1930-1945 period... He made wild comedies of character full of lovely telling moments - comic, touching or exciting - and even the weepies, although maudlin by today's tastes, brim with warmth and humour." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Film Directors, 1999)

Leo McCarey

Director / Producer / Screenwriter
(1896-1969) Born October 3, Los Angeles, California, USA
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Comedy, Drama, Melodrama, Romance, Religious Drama, Romantic Comedy, Romantic Drama, Farce, Screwball Comedy, Comedy Drama
Key Collaborators: Robert Emmett Dolan (Composer), Hans Dreier (Production Designer), Cary Grant (Leading Actor), George Barnes (Cinematographer), Leroy Stone (Editor), William Flannery (Production Designer), Irene Dunne (Leading Actress), Bing Crosby (Leading Actor), Delmer Daves (Screenwriter), Vina Delmar (Screenwriter), Edward Dmytryk (Editor), Frank McHugh (Leading Character Actor)

"Leo McCarey's supervision of 1930s and 40s Hollywood comedies is more akin to contract studio authorship than independent auteurism... After holding various jobs in the film industry, McCarey began writing gags and directing Charlie Chase two-reelers at the Hal Roach studio in 1923... In 1929 McCarey graduated to features and hit his stride. With a winning combination of zany humour and popular sentiment, he directed some of the era's biggest star vehicles... Jean Renoir perhaps best summed up McCarey's grasp of what the people thought they wanted: "Leo McCarey is one of the few directors in Hollywood who understands human beings." - Richard Armstrong (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
"Leo McCarey has always presented auteur criticism with one of its greatest challenges and one that has never been convincingly met... He worked consistently (and apparently quite uncomplainingly) within the dominant codes of shooting and editing that comprise the anonymous "classical Hollywood" style... Yet his name is on some of the best - and best-loved - Hollywood films (as well as on some that embarrass many of even his most fervent defenders)." - Robin Wood (The St. James Film Directors Encyclopedia, 1998)
"Blending an explosive sense of humor with unabashed sentimentality, McCarey came up with such comedy gems as Ruggles of Red Gap and The Awful Truth and such maudlin pearls as Make Way for Tomorrow and Going My Way." - The MacMillan International Film Encyclopedia, 1994
"Leo McCarey represents a principle of improvisation in the history of the American film. Noted less for his rigorous direction than for his relaxed digressions, McCarey has distilled a unique blend of farce and sentimentality in his best efforts... McCarey's moments may outlive his movies... After enough great moments are assembled, however, a personal style must be assumed even though it is difficult to describe." - Andrew Sarris (The American Cinema, 1968)
"More than just a gag man, McCarey developed a fine storytelling sense. He also had a flair for sentimental stories, as proved by the wrenching portrait of old age, Make Way for Tomorrow (1937), the touching romance Love Affair (1939), and Going My Way (1944, for which he won his second Best Director Oscar, and snagged another for his screenplay)." - Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia, 1995
"Jean Renoir once said that McCarey understood people better than anyone else in Hollywood. That facility enabled him to create warm, witty, sometimes zany comedies and gentle dramas." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
"I only know I like my characters to walk in clouds, I like a little bit of the fairy tale. As long as I'm there behind the camera lens, I'll let somebody else photograph the ugliness of the world." - Leo McCarey
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Duck Soup (1933) , Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) , The Awful Truth (1937) , Love Affair (1939)
Recommended
Ruggles of Red Gap (1935) , An Affair to Remember (1957)
Worth a Look
Pass the Gravy (1928) [co-directed by Fred Guiol], Big Business (1929) [co-directed by James W. Horne], Wrong Again (1929), The Bells of St. Mary's (1945), Good Sam (1948), Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (1958)
Approach with Caution
Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942), Going My Way (1944), My Son John (1952)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    The Awful Truth
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