Mervyn LeRoy

  • Mervyn LeRoy & Anthony Mann – Quo Vadis (1951)

    1951-1960Anthony MannDramaEpicMervyn LeRoyUSA

    America’s mid-20th century love affair with the Biblical epic began with Mervyn LeRoy’s Quo Vadis (1951). And a new Blu-ray by Warner Home Video goes a long way to proving why that’s the case. The saturated colors and epic setpieces that dominate the film’s mise-en-scène are reason enough to sit back and enjoy the spectacle. But Peter Ustinov’s scenery-chewing performance as the last Roman Caesar, Nero, is another great justification. This film was the template for future movies of its ilk, and should be seen for that if for no other reason. Like The Robe (1953), or Ben-Hur (1959), Quo Vadis is based on a historical novel that examines the nascent religion of Christianity through the eyes of an outsider. Here it is loyal Roman commander Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor), who falls in love with a Christian slave, the beautiful Lygia (Deborah Kerr), while struggling to remain loyal to the increasingly mad Emperor Nero. Lygia’s entreaties for Vinicius to join her in following Christ’s teachings are initially dismissed.Read More »

  • Mervyn LeRoy – Johnny Eager (1941)

    1941-1950CrimeFilm NoirMervyn LeRoyQueer Cinema(s)USA

    Ruthless hood Johnny Eager is pretending to his parole officer that he has chucked the rackets and is working as a taxi driver. In fact, he’s as deep into crime as he ever was and desperately needs official permission to open his new dog racing track. When he meets up with Lisbeth Bard, the step-daughter of the district attorney, he finds she is not only stunning but a possible way to get his permit.Read More »

  • Mervyn LeRoy – The Bad Seed (1956)

    1951-1960CrimeDramaMervyn LeRoyUSA

    Robin Wood located the seeds for the ghoulish moppet’s maternal stabbing in Night of the Living Dead (and The Exorcist, The Omen, The Brady Bunch, et al.) in little Tootie pulverizing the snowmen in Meet Me in St. Louis; roots had already settled by the time Maxwell Anderson’s play about a soulless sprite got transplanted to screens, only the intergenerational anxiety is whipped into safe, static, psycho-babbling kitsch hysteria. Rhoda (Patty McCormick), the pigtailed, 8-year-old devil, skips back home from drowning a schoolmate and asks mom Nancy Kelly for a peanut-butter sandwich; a “perfect little ray of sunshine,” Au Clair de la Lune played on a loop while the handyman (Henry Jones), wise to the monster behind the curtsies, is barbecued in the basement. Read More »

  • Mervyn LeRoy – A Majority of One (1961)

    1961-1970ClassicsDramaMervyn LeRoyUSA

    Mrs. Jacoby, a Brooklyn widow whose only son was killed by the Japanese in World
    War II, reluctantly agrees to accompany her daughter, Alice, and her son-in-law, Jerry
    Black, on a trip to Japan, where Jerry is to help negotiate a trade agreement. En route by
    ship, Mrs. Jacoby’s resentment of the Japanese subsides when she meets Mr. Asano, a
    Japanese industrialist whose family also was struck by tragedy during the war. Their
    friendship ends, however, when Jerry suspects that Mr. Asano, who is also a
    negotiating member of the trade committee, is ingratiating himself with his mother-in-law
    for political gain.Read More »

  • Mervyn LeRoy – I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

    1931-1940CrimeFilm NoirMervyn LeRoyUSA

    Synopsis wrote:
    Warner Bros.’ hard-hitting chain-gang movie was a faithful adaptation of the similarly titled autobiography of Robert Elliot Burns. Paul Muni plays World War I veteran James Allen, whose plans of becoming a master architect evaporate in the cold light of economic realities. Times get really tough when he’s falsely convicted of a crime and forced to work on a chain gang.Read More »

  • Mervyn LeRoy – Moment to Moment (1965)

    1961-1970ClassicsDramaMervyn LeRoyUSA

    This is a good movie in the Hitchcock vein, in which small details form the key to intense pathos. Will the husband notice the thing she mentioned in passing? Will her child inadvertently play with the wrong toy? Will the best friend keep the story straight? It takes a tangled web of lies and omissions to keep silent an impulsive affair–and a possible murder–when everything is so interconnected. No real villains here, but faulted humans trying to be happy, and not upset the house of cards that comprise their private lives. Good performances by Honor Blackman and Jean Seberg. You will be on the edge of your seat, and clutching a hankie at the same time.Read More »

  • Mervyn LeRoy – Any Number Can Play (1949)

    1941-1950ClassicsDramaMervyn LeRoyUSA

    In this light drama, Clark Gable once again played his stock-in-trade role of a rogue with a heart of gold. Charlie King (Gable) runs a casino, but, in a business that thrives among the unscrupulous, Charlie takes pride in running an honest game and treating his customers with fairness and respect. However, Charlie’s wife Lon (Alexis Smith) doesn’t care if he runs a fair game — she regards gambling as a dirty and corrupt business, and no matter how honest Charlie may be, he’s still involved in a wicked activity. Charlie’s son Paul (Darryl Hickman) is also against him; when Paul gets in trouble and Charlie bails him out of jail, he refuses to leave with him, instead going home with mother. Charlie invites Paul to see what his casino is like, and Lon agrees that Paul should know just what his father does.
    — Mark Deming.Read More »

  • Mervyn LeRoy – Gentleman’s Fate (1931)

    1931-1940CrimeDramaMervyn LeRoyUSA

    Pre-code melodrama starring John Gilbert as Jack Thomas, rich, penthouse-dwelling playboy with a brand new fiancee named Marjorie (Leila Hyams) and his own English “gentleman’s gentleman” (just given orders to burn his gallery of photos and phone numbers). Called to meet his guardian “Papa Mario”, Jack is informed he has a brother named Frank and a father who has been shot and is calling for his long-lost son from his deathbed. This is all news to Jack who didn’t know about this family at all (he thought he was an orphan). Read More »

  • Mervyn LeRoy – Anthony Adverse (1936)

    1931-1940AdventureDramaMervyn LeRoyUSA

    In late 18th century Italy, a beautiful young woman finds herself married to a rich but cruel older man. However, she is in love with another, younger man. When the husband finds out, he kills the lover in a swordfight, and takes his wife on a long trip throughout Europe. Months later, she dies giving birth to a son. The husband leaves the child at a convent, where he is raised until the age of 10; then he is apprenticed to a local merchant, who gives him the name “Anthony Adverse” because of the adversity in his life. But his adversity has only begun, as fate takes him to Cuba, Africa, and Paris. Written by John Oswalt {[email protected]} (IMDB).Read More »

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