John G. Blystone

Active - 1914 - 1938  |   Born - Dec 2, 1892   |   Died - Aug 10, 1938   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Romance, Western

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Trying his luck as an actor after graduating from the University of Wisconsin, John G. Blystone turned to writing and directing in 1923. One of his first films as director was Buster Keaton's Our Hospitality (1923), though it's a safe bet that Keaton did most of the directing himself. Through his copacetic working relationship with western star Tom Mix, Blystone earned a lucrative contract at Fox Studios. Unobtrusive and easygoing, Blystone worked best with actors and screenwriters who tended to dominate their productions: the aforementioned Keaton and comedian Will Rogers both appreciated Blystone's willingness not to get in their way. In this same "power behind the throne" spirit, Laurel and Hardy engaged Blystone to direct two of their feature films, Swiss Miss (1938) and Block-Heads (1938), with the understanding that Blystone would merely yell "action" and "cut", then leave the comedians to their own devices in-between. Less than a month after completing Block-Heads, the 45-year-old Blystone died of a heart attack. John G. Blystone was the brother of prolific character actor Stanley Blystone and 20th Century-Fox assistant director Jasper Blystone.

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