Hal Roach - Rotten Tomatoes

Hal Roach

Highest Rated:   100% Topper Returns (1941)
Lowest Rated:   60% Swiss Miss (1938)
Birthday:  
Birthplace:   Not Available
American producer/director Hal Roach was overtaken by wanderlust early in life. Leaving his upstate New York home in his teens, Roach was an Alaskan gold prospector and mule skinner before he reached the age of twenty. In 1912, he spotted an ad placed by Hollywood's Universal Pictures offering a dollar a day for genuine cowboys to act as western technical advisers. Roach spent the next year making the rounds as an extra, in the company of his new friend Harold Lloyd. As the result of a small inheritance, Roach bought an office in Los Angeles' Bradbury Mansion in 1914, set up a small film production unit, and hired Lloyd as his star comedian. Roach's initial "Willie Work" one-reelers found no buyers, and, when the funds ran out, Lloyd left briefly for Keystone while Roach signed on as a director with the Chaplin unit at Essanay. Teaming with Dan Lintchicum, Roach re-entered the production end with his new Rolin Phunphilm Company; Lloyd returned to the fold, this time as a Chaplin rip-off character named Lonesome Luke. Throughout 1916 and 1917, Roach released his "Luke" comedies through Pathe; the films were popular not only because of the seemingly bottomless reserve of sight gags, but also because Roach insisted upon emphasizing strong story values as well as slapstick. In 1917, Lloyd dropped his "Luke" makeup in favor of his now-famous "glasses" character. While both Lloyd and Roach would later take credit for hitting upon the innovation of allowing a comedian to play "himself" rather than a heavily made-up buffoon, the important end result was that Lloyd became the most popular comic working in films. To ensure a consistency of product, Roach set up a preview system for the Lloyd comedies, screening them before test audiences and re-editing them for full comic impact before their general release. Roach began adding to his comic roster in 1919, building comedies around such stars as Snub Pollard, Stan Laurel, and black youngster "Sunshine" Sammy Morrison. He also gave a free creative hand to such writers and directors as Charley Chase, Alf Goulding, and Fred Newmeyer, who controlled the output while Roach concentrated on administrative duties. Chancing to see a couple of kids arguing over a block of wood in 1922, Roach decided that a series of comedies built around the joys and problems of real-life children would clean up at the box office. The result was "Our Gang", one of the longest-lasting short subjects series of all time (1922-44). Writer/director Charley Chase became Roach's top comedian after Lloyd left in 1924, turning out a successful yearly manifest of sophisticated domestic comedies; many of these were directed by Leo McCarey, who became Roach's supervising director. According to many contemporaries, it was McCarey and not Roach who first fully realized the potential of teaming comedian/gagman/director Stan Laurel with supporting actor Oliver Hardy in late 1926 -- culminating in the most successful series of two-reelers ever made at the Roach Studio. Unlike other independents, Roach was not intimidated in the least by the coming of sound in 1929. A sweetheart deal with RCA Victor and Western Electric enabled Roach to turn out the most technically proficient talkie shorts on the market, enhanced by the lilting background music scores (another innovation) written by LeRoy Shield and Marvin Hatley. With Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Our Gang, and Charley Chase going full blast in the early 1930s, Roach developed several new series: The Boy Friends, The Taxi Boys, Thelma Todd/ZaSu Pitts and Thelma Todd/Patsy Kelly. Committed to the short subject form, Roach declared that he wanted to make 20-minute films with the production gloss usually associated with feature films. But the diminishing shorts market in the mid 1930s forced Roach to rethink his policy and concentrate on feature films. He'd been making features sporadically since the Harold Lloyd days in 1922. His two most successful productions, Lloyd's Grandma's

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
No Score Yet Putting Pants On Philip
  • Producer
2014
No Score Yet Captain Kidd's Kids
  • Director
2014
No Score Yet Unaccustomed As We Are
  • Director
2011
No Score Yet Hal Roach: King of Irish Comedy
  • Actor
2004
No Score Yet George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey
  • Himself
1984
No Score Yet Magnavox Theater - "The Three Musketeers"
  • Director
1950
No Score Yet Two Mugs from Brooklyn
  • Producer
1942
No Score Yet Niagara Falls
  • Executive Producer
1941
No Score Yet Tanks a Million
  • Producer
1941
No Score Yet Broadway Limited (The Baby Vanishes )
  • Producer
1941
100% Topper Returns
  • Producer
1941
No Score Yet Road Show
  • Director
  • Producer
1941
No Score Yet All-American Co-Ed
  • Producer
1941
No Score Yet Turnabout
  • Director
  • Producer
1940
No Score Yet Saps at Sea
  • Producer
1940
No Score Yet One Million B.C.
  • Director
  • Producer
1940
No Score Yet A Chump at Oxford
  • Producer
1940
No Score Yet The Housekeeper's Daughter
  • Director
  • Producer
1939
No Score Yet Zenobia, (Elephants Never Forget)
  • Producer
1939
No Score Yet Topper Takes a Trip
  • Producer
1938
No Score Yet There Goes My Heart
  • Producer
1938
60% Swiss Miss
  • Director
1938
No Score Yet Merrily We Live
  • Producer
1938
No Score Yet Our Gang Follies Of 1938
  • Producer
1937
94% Topper
  • Producer
1937
No Score Yet Pick a Star
  • Producer
1937
No Score Yet Nobody's Baby
  • Producer
1937
No Score Yet General Spanky
  • Producer
1936
No Score Yet On the Wrong Trek
  • Producer
1936
No Score Yet The Bohemian Girl
  • Producer
1936
No Score Yet Mister Cinderella
  • Producer
1936
No Score Yet Bonnie Scotland (Heroes of the Regiment)
  • Producer
1935
No Score Yet Teacher's Beau
  • Producer
1935
No Score Yet The Fixer Uppers
  • Producer
1935
100% Babes In Toyland
  • Producer
1934
No Score Yet The Live Ghost
  • Producer
1934
No Score Yet Them Thar Hills
  • Producer
1934
No Score Yet Dirty Work
  • Producer
1933
No Score Yet Busy Bodies
  • Producer
1933
100% Sons of the Desert
  • Producer
1933
No Score Yet Sherman Said It
  • Producer
1933
No Score Yet The Devil's Brother
  • Producer
  • Director
1933
No Score Yet Twice Two
  • Producer
1933
No Score Yet Towed in a Hole
  • Producer
1932
No Score Yet Their First Mistake
  • Producer
1932
No Score Yet Pack Up Your Troubles
  • Producer
1932
No Score Yet Scram!
  • Producer
1932
No Score Yet County Hospital
  • Producer
1932
No Score Yet The Chimp
  • Producer
1932
No Score Yet The Music Box
  • Producer
1932
No Score Yet Red Noses
  • Producer
1932
No Score Yet Helpmates
  • Producer
1932
No Score Yet Beau Hunks
  • Producer
1931
No Score Yet One Good Turn
  • Producer
1931
No Score Yet Pardon Us
  • Prisoners Marching in Formation Near Hardy
  • Producer
1931
No Score Yet The Panic Is On
  • Producer
1931
No Score Yet Our Wife
  • Producer
1931
No Score Yet Laurel and Hardy
  • Producer
1931
No Score Yet Chickens Come Home
  • Screenwriter
  • Producer
1931
No Score Yet Laurel and Hardy
  • Producer
1931
No Score Yet Another Fine Mess
  • Producer
1930
No Score Yet The Little Rascals
  • Producer
1930
No Score Yet The Rogue Song
  • Director
1930
No Score Yet Blotto
  • Producer
1930
No Score Yet La Vida Nocturna
  • Producer
1930
No Score Yet Laurel and Hardy
  • Producer
1930
No Score Yet Brats
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter
1930
No Score Yet Night Owls
  • Producer
1930
No Score Yet Hog Wild
  • Producer
1930
No Score Yet Bacon Grabbers
  • Producer
1929
No Score Yet Liberty (Criminals at Large)
  • Producer
1929
No Score Yet Unaccustomed As We Are
  • Producer
  • Director
1929
No Score Yet Double Whoopee
  • Producer
1929
No Score Yet Laurel and Hardy
  • Producer
1929
No Score Yet Wrong Again
  • Producer
1929
No Score Yet Laurel and Hardy
  • Producer
1929
No Score Yet Big Business
  • Producer
1929
No Score Yet That's My Wife
  • Producer
1929
No Score Yet Laurel and Hardy
  • Producer
1929
No Score Yet Angora Love
  • Producer
1929
No Score Yet Laurel and Hardy
  • Producer
1929
No Score Yet They Go Boom!
  • Producer
1929
No Score Yet Two Tars
  • Producer
1928
No Score Yet Should Married Men Go Home?
  • Producer
1928
No Score Yet Their Purple Moment
  • Producer
1928
No Score Yet From Soup To Nuts
  • Producer
1928
No Score Yet The Finishing Touch
  • Producer
1928
No Score Yet Leave 'Em Laughing
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter
1928
No Score Yet We Faw Down We Slip Up
  • Producer
1928
No Score Yet Habeas Corpus
  • Producer
1928
No Score Yet You're Darn Tootin'
  • Producer
1928
No Score Yet Early to Bed
  • Producer
1928
No Score Yet The Second Hundred Years
  • Producer
1927
No Score Yet Why Girls Love Sailors
  • Screenwriter
  • Producer
1927
No Score Yet Love 'Em and Weep
  • Producer
1927
No Score Yet Slipping Wives
  • Producer
1927
No Score Yet The Battle of the Century
  • Screenwriter
  • Producer
1927
No Score Yet Duck Soup
  • Producer
1927
No Score Yet Do Detectives Think?
  • Screenwriter
1927
No Score Yet The Nickel Hopper
  • Screenwriter
  • Producer
1926
No Score Yet The Devil Horse
  • Producer
1926
No Score Yet What Price Goofy?
  • Screenwriter
1925
No Score Yet Black Cyclone
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter
1925
No Score Yet The King of the Wild Horses
  • Producer
1924
No Score Yet Oranges and Lemons
  • Producer
1923
97% Safety Last!
  • Producer
1923
No Score Yet Why Worry?
  • Producer
1923
No Score Yet Dr. Jack
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter
1922
No Score Yet Grandma's Boy
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter
1922
No Score Yet Never Weaken
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter
1921
No Score Yet I Do
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
1921
No Score Yet Hal Roach: King of Irish Comedy
  • Actor
1921
No Score Yet Among Those Present
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
1921
No Score Yet A Sailor-Made Man
  • Screenwriter
  • Producer
1921
No Score Yet Now Or Never
  • Director
1921
No Score Yet Number, Please?
  • Director
1920
No Score Yet High and Dizzy
  • Director
  • Producer
1920
No Score Yet Get Out and Get Under
  • Producer
  • Director
1920
No Score Yet An Eastern Westerner
  • Director
  • Producer
1920
No Score Yet Haunted Spooks
  • Director
  • Producer
1920
No Score Yet His Royal Slyness
  • Director
1920
No Score Yet Nomads of the North
  • Producer
1920
No Score Yet From Hand to Mouth
  • Director
1919
No Score Yet Bumping into Broadway
  • Director
1919
No Score Yet Just Neighbors
  • Producer
1919
No Score Yet Billy Blazes, Esq.
  • Director
  • Producer
1919
No Score Yet Ask Father
  • Producer
1919
No Score Yet I'm on My Way
  • Producer
1919
No Score Yet Don't Shove
  • Producer
1919
No Score Yet Just Rambling Along
  • Director
  • Producer
1918
No Score Yet All Aboard
  • Producer
1917
No Score Yet Luke's Shattered Sleep
  • Director
No Score Yet Luke's Movie Muddle
  • Director

Quotes from Hal Roach's Characters

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