Leo McCarey

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David Hennessy
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Leo McCarey

Postby David Hennessy » Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:21 pm

Dear Mafia Members---

Thank you for re-opening the registration to this site. My name is David Hennessy and I have been enjoying your site for a while. My question for you all is this:

I was wondering how much credit should be given to Leo McCarey in the creation and development of Laurel and Hardy. I have read his Bogdanovich interview and the Wes Gehring biography but I figured you all would have the most accurate viewpoint. All I can say is that I certainly enjoy their silent films way more than their sound films (especially in their "tit for tat" nature) and I am curious as to his overall importance in their history.

Thank you and Happy New Year,

Dave Hennessy

Richard M Roberts
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Re: Leo McCarey

Postby Richard M Roberts » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:08 pm

David Hennessy wrote:Dear Mafia Members---

Thank you for re-opening the registration to this site. My name is David Hennessy and I have been enjoying your site for a while. My question for you all is this:

I was wondering how much credit should be given to Leo McCarey in the creation and development of Laurel and Hardy. I have read his Bogdanovich interview and the Wes Gehring biography but I figured you all would have the most accurate viewpoint. All I can say is that I certainly enjoy their silent films way more than their sound films (especially in their "tit for tat" nature) and I am curious as to his overall importance in their history.

Thank you and Happy New Year,

Dave Hennessy



Not as much credit certainly as Leo gave himself. As far as I could ascertain in my own research, it seemed to be a general no-brainer after DUCK SOUP to Roach and his staff that Laurel and Hardy working together was a better idea than the tepidly-received All-Star Comedies in general and the move started nearly immediately in that direction. What McCarey can be given more credit for is that strong plot-construction in the silent Laurel and Hardy's, he really did oversee much of that once he was free of the Max Davidson series, and the "tit for tat" concept does seem to have been one of his babies.


RICHARD M ROBERTS

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Re: Leo McCarey

Postby Gary Johnson » Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:13 pm

In articles and interviews I always found McCarey rather self-effacing when talking about L&H.
It was never "I told them to do this....I invented derby hats..."
He mostly just seem to enjoy re-telling his stories of everyone laughing on the sets and having fun.
And he always came across as very deferential when it came to Laurel.

Wasn't McCarey one of those veteran directors who was corralled for an oral history before he passed on? I so, did he talk that much about Chase? In interviews it was always questions about L&H. No one seemed to remember Charley Chase by the sixties and seventies. If he seemed that reverent toward Laurel I imagine it would be ten-fold when it came to Chase.

Richard M Roberts
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Re: Leo McCarey

Postby Richard M Roberts » Thu Jan 02, 2014 7:22 pm

Gary Johnson wrote:In articles and interviews I always found McCarey rather self-effacing when talking about L&H.
It was never "I told them to do this....I invented derby hats..."
He mostly just seem to enjoy re-telling his stories of everyone laughing on the sets and having fun.
And he always came across as very deferential when it came to Laurel.

Wasn't McCarey one of those veteran directors who was corralled for an oral history before he passed on? I so, did he talk that much about Chase? In interviews it was always questions about L&H. No one seemed to remember Charley Chase by the sixties and seventies. If he seemed that reverent toward Laurel I imagine it would be ten-fold when it came to Chase.



The problem with McCarey was that by the time he was interviewed for that oral history, he was too far gone with Alcohol and Alzheimers, and as I recall, the interviewer (was it Bogdanovich?) didn't really know what questions to ask about the Roach Years, if McCarey had remembered anything in the first place.

But basically, he tried to take credit for creating Laurel and Hardy, and the documentation and other's involved seemed to remember it otherwise. He was an important factor, but far from the only one.


RICHARD M ROBERTS

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Re: Leo McCarey

Postby Gary Johnson » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:33 pm

Alcohol and Alzheimers..........the double whammy.

Richard M Roberts
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Re: Leo McCarey

Postby Richard M Roberts » Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:19 pm

Gary Johnson wrote:Alcohol and Alzheimers..........the double whammy.



Or a really weird Larry Semon short from 1918.


RICHARD M ROBERTS

David Hennessy
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Re: Leo McCarey

Postby David Hennessy » Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:59 am

Thank you for your comments Richard as it has helped me put Bogdanovich's interview with McCarey (in the book "Who the Devil Made It") in it's proper perspective....here's a part of it where he talks about Charlie Chase:

How did you come to direct for Roach?

I had so many ideas for gags that he gave me an actor named Charley Chase and he let me direct him. I was fortunate enough to draw a very clever fellow. He was a big help to me and I hope that I reciprocated to him. And our pictures [all two-reelers] were extremely successful.

Do you remember any of them in particular?

I made so many … The Charley Chase films [1924–1929] were a little like the Dick Van Dyke TV shows: domestic comedies. Some of them were really very funny. Most of them dealt with the misadventures of husband and wife. For example, in Mighty Like a Moose [1926] {...} It was really very funny. That’s about what the Chase comedies were like. Completely different from what we did later with Laurel and Hardy.

How did you work with Chase? Was it the same as the way you worked with Laurel and Hardy?

No—it was very different. He had more experience than I did. He said you have to break yourself in like a reporter writing a daily column. You drive to work and you don’t know what you’re going to do and as you get near the studio, the pressure begins to catch up with you and by the time you get to the gates, you can’t wait to start dictating. And everything was completely original—we never knew what it was to buy one sheet of paper from anybody. He and I wrote all the stories. Naturally, there was a great deal of both of us in our work.

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Re: Leo McCarey

Postby Jim Roots » Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:39 am

Somewhere he is quoted as saying everything he knew about film comedy, he learned from Chase. Or maybe that is apocryphal. Perhaps someone has the book Smile When the Raindrops Fall within reach and can check that source.

Jim
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Re: Leo McCarey

Postby Gary Johnson » Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:30 am

As Richard points out, during McCarey's last decade he was becoming far too gone to be able to give a reliable interview. But during his heyday as a rising director he was quite prolific with talking to the press, was he not? I believe it was those interviews where he made statements such as the quote about Chase that Jim cites above.

Mostly, though, he enjoyed relating his yarns about his life. And though these tales are colored and hyped up, they are always intertaining. I'll take a wonderful storyteller any day over a fact-checker.

Jim Roots
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Re: Leo McCarey

Postby Jim Roots » Tue Jan 07, 2014 8:17 am

Gary Johnson wrote:I'll take a wonderful storyteller any day over a fact-checker.


I dare you to post that comment in the NitrateVille thread about silent star "tragedies".

Jim
When you're surrounded by vultures, playing dead is not a good strategy.


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