HOME BEFORE DARK (Mervyn LeRoy, 1958)

At 136 minutes, Mervyn LeRoy’s low-key Home Before Dark, about a woman back home after she is released from a mental hospital, probably requires a bottle of good unblended scotch to navigate and get through; but it’s largely absorbing, attractively wintry gray (the black-and-white cinematography is by Joseph Biroc), and beautifully acted by Jean Simmons […]

LITTLE CAESAR (Mervyn LeRoy, 1930)

Edward G. Robinson, tremendous, claimed the role that made him a star in Little Caesar, Mervyn LeRoy’s ultimately brilliant meditation on the unnaturalness and perniciousness of the American ethos of “rugged individualism,” which, to say the least, wars with humanity’s quest for sociability. LeRoy’s film, based on an unpublished novel by W. R. Burnett, also […]

I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG (Mervyn LeRoy, 1932)

Paul Muni claimed his signature role and gave his most brilliant performance as James Allen in Mervyn LeRoy’s hard-hitting I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, one of Warner Bros.’s 1930s social melodramas targeting U.S. injustice. This American Les misérables of the South chronicles Allen’s pilgrim’s progress as the jobless veteran is wrongly convicted […]

MISTER ROBERTS (John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy, 1955)

Douglas A. Roberts, whose initials suggest an elitist organization (Daughters of the American Revolution), “has background,” as we used to say; he is one of those “college boys” that his captain, Morton, whose background is rough and working-class, disdains. (They treated him with contempt when he was a busboy.) During the waning days of the […]

RANDOM HARVEST (Mervyn LeRoy, 1942)

Although his good movies were at Warners during the thirties, Random Harvest is producer-director Mervyn LeRoy’s most accomplished film. Mining the combination of glamor, suspense and romance of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940), it involves a shellshocked Great War Brit (Ronald Colman) who in turn suffers two bouts of amnesia, the first of which erases his […]