Dore Schary - Writer

Producer and Writer. Nationality: American. Born: Newark, New Jersey, 31 August 1905. Education: Central High School, Newark. Family: Married Miriam Svet, 1932; three children. Career:

Dore Schary
Dore Schary
1926–32—stage director, actor, publicity director, and newspaper writer; 1933–37—film writer for Paramount, Warner Bros., and Columbia; 1938–41—writer, MGM; 1943–46—producer, David O. Selznick Productions; 1948–56—vice president in charge of production and studio operations, MGM; 1959—founded Schary Productions and Schary Television Productions. Award: Academy Award for script of Boys Town , 1938. Died: New York City, 7 July 1980.

Films as Writer:


Fury of the Jungle (Neill); Fog (Rogell); He Couldn't Take It (Nigh)


The Most Precious Thing in Life (Hillyer); Let's Talk It Over (Neumann); Murder in the Clouds (Lederman); Young and Beautiful (Santley)


Mississippi (Sutherland); The Raven (Landers); Chinatown Squad (Roth); Storm over the Andes (Cabanne); Red Hot Tires (Lederman); The Silk Hat Kid (Humberstone); Your Uncle Dudley (Forde)


Timothy's Quest (Barton); Her Master's Voice (Santley)


Outcast (Florey); Mind Your Own Business (McLeod); Girl from Scotland Yard (Vignola); Big City (Borzage)


Boys Town (Taurog)


Behind the News (Santley); Broadway Melody of 1940 (Taurog); Young Tom Edison (Taurog); Edison the Man (Brown)


Married Bachelor (Buzzell)


It's a Big Country (Thorpe and others)

Films as Producer (Personally Supervised):


The Penalty (Bucquet)


Joe Smith, American (Thorpe); Nazi Agent (Dassin); Grand Central Murder (Simon); Northwest Rangers (Newman); Kid Glove Killer (Zinnemann); Sunday Punch (Miller); The War Against Mrs. Hadley (Bucquet); A Yank on the Burma Road (Seitz); Fingers at the Window (Lederer); The Omaha Trail (Buzzell); Journey for Margaret (Van Dyke); Eyes in the Night (Zinnemann); The Affairs of Martha (Dassin); Apache Trail (Thorpe)


Harrigan's Kid (Reisner); Lassie Come Home (Wilcox); Pilot No. 5 (Sidney); Bataan (Garnett); A Stranger in Town (Rowland); Lost Angel (Rowland); Young Ideas (Dassin)


The Youngest Profession (Buzzell)


I'll Be Seeing You (Dieterle)


The Spiral Staircase (Siodmak); Till the End of Time (Dmytryk)


The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (Reis); The Farmer's Daughter (Potter); Crossfire (Dmytryk)


They Live By Night (Ray); The Boy with the Green Hair (Losey); Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (Potter)


Battleground (Wellman)


Walk Softly Stranger (Stevenson); The Next Voice You Hear (Wellman); Go for Broke (Pirosh)


Westward the Women (Wellman)


Plymouth Adventure (Brown); Washington Story (Pirosh)


Take the High Ground (Brooks); Dream Wife (Sheldon)


Trial (Robson); Bad Day at Black Rock (J. Sturges)


The Last Hunt (Brooks); The Swan (C. Vidor); Battle of Gettysburg (doc) (+ sc)


Designing Woman (Minnelli)


Lonelyhearts (Donehue) (+ sc)


Sunrise at Campobello (Donehue) (+ sc)


Act One (+ d + sc)


By SCHARY: books—

With Charles Palmer, Case History of a Movie , New York, 1950.

Sunrise at Campobello (play), New York, 1958.

The Highest Tree (play), New York, 1961.

For Special Occasions (autobiography), New York, 1962.

With Sinclair Lewis, Storm in the West (script), New York, 1963.

Heyday: An Autobiography , Boston, Massachusetts, 1979.

By SCHARY: article—

American Film (Washington, D.C.), October and November 1979.

On SCHARY: book—

Schary Zimmer, Jill, With a Cast of Thousands , New York, 1963.

On SCHARY: articles—

Films in Review (New York), November 1950.

Lambert, Gavin, in Sight and Sound (London), March 1951.

Ross, Lillian, in Picture , New York, 1952.

Rosenberg, Bernard, and Harry Silverstein, in The Real Tinsel , New York, 1970.

Take One (Montreal), July 1979.

The Annual Obituary 1980 , New York, 1981.

Cinématographe (Paris), May 1984.

Carty, Brad, " Sunrise at Campobello ," in Wilson Library Bulletin , May 1990.

Linden, Sheri, in Variety (New York), 17 March 1997.

* * *

Dore Schary was the head of production at MGM from 1948 until 1956. As such he was ultimately responsible for such famous films as Singin' in the Rain , On the Town , Adam's Rib , Father of the Bride , The Asphalt Jungle , Ivanhoe , The Band Wagon , Kiss Me Kate , and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers . While this may not have been MGM's Golden Age in terms of making money, if for nothing else Schary will be remembered as the head of the studio at which Arthur Freed's wonderful musicals were created. Schary let Freed loose to work with Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly to create some of the greatest film musicals Hollywood has ever known.

But that is not to say the Schary-led MGM did not keep an eye on the box office. Indeed in the early 1950s, the beginning of his tenure, MGM seemed to do just fine. While Schary was in charge MGM produced the second biggest money maker of 1950, Battleground , the second biggest money maker of 1951, Showboat , and the second biggest box-office hit of 1952, Quo Vadis . Unfortunately after that the totals were not as good. Schary was fired in November 1956.

The problem was that Schary was never fully in charge and thus did not get the credit he deserved. Louis B. Mayer fought Schary's projects until he was let go in 1951. Nicholas M. Schenck, long-time boss in New York, failed to help Schary with the conversion to wide-screen technology in the 1950s. Schenck retired in 1956. MGM would not adapt, and thus never was able to return to the glory days of the 1930s. Unfortunately for Schary he had to captain a ship that was sinking.

In retrospect it always seemed odd that Schary, a former screenwriter and self-professed liberal supporter of message movies, ever got as far as he did. Indeed, his initial success in Hollywood came at MGM with small films about smalltown America. He helped write Boys Town , starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney, and Young Tom Edison , with Rooney reaching the peak of his popularity.

These films earned Schary his spurs as a producer. He did some B-films for MGM, and helped David O. Selznick with The Spiral Staircase starring Rhonda Fleming and George Brent and The Farmer's Daughter starring Loretta Young. He also helped run RKO for Howard Hughes for a short time.

Once the MGM experience was over Schary returned to what he did best, the creation of certain pet projects. To many he will always be best known for Sunrise at Campobello in both its play and movie form. He not only produced both versions, he also wrote the play. Yet surprisingly, considering all his experience in Hollywood, Schary himself never supervised a movie of lasting importance. He will always best be remembered for his tenure at RKO and MGM when many an interesting film came from those working for him.

—Douglas Gomery

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