Thursday, June 14, 2007

June 14th Log

1931, Leo McCarey, United States
1st Viewing, DVD

Though often forgotten among the great filmmakers of Hollywood Studio era, Leo McCarey stands as one of the very best. McCarey was born in Los Angeles and pursued many different occupations growing up (most notably law school, boxing, and coal mining- all of which play a small role in his work). However in 1919 he was introduced to Universal Studios director Tod Browning who hired him as an assistant. In 1921 he was given a chance to direct his first feature (Society Secrets), which was a disappointment. In 1923 McCarey received a big break to work for Hal Roach Studios. Here he wrote and directed short gag films. McCarey was so successful at this that he eventually became Vice President and head supervisor of the studios short films. It is also during this period where he paired Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy who would go on to become one of the most memorable comedic duos in the history of film. Roach was given the credit for the Laurel and Hardy pairing, but it was McCarey behind it. By 1929, McCarey was successful enough to move onto his own and from here he began writing, directing, and in some cases producing his own feature films. During the early years of sound, McCarey directed many of the most beloved comedian figures in film (including Harold Lloyd, WC Fields, George Burns, Eddie Cantor, among others). Indiscreet marked one of the early talkies from one of the great silent actresses of Hollywood Gloria Swanson. Though Swanson was well-regarded for her roles in drama, the 1930s marked an era of comedy and musicals for Swanson and she proves more then worthy here. In fact, Swanson is terrific and really gives the film its energy and charm. Indiscreet is essentially a screwball comedy with doses of melodrama along the way. McCarey certainly made better films but this is an enjoyable film mostly to watch Swanson shine- it is really a shame Hollywood abandoned many of the silent stars in the transition to talkies.


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