Sam Taylor

Active - 1921 - 2014  |   Born - Aug 13, 1895   |   Died - Mar 6, 1958   |   Genres - Comedy, Romance, Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Not to be confused with Broadway director/playwright Samuel Taylor, American film director Sam Taylor received a B.A. from Fordham University before entering films as a gag writer at Kalem Studios in 1916. Anxious to break into directing, Taylor served as Fred Newmeyer's assistant on the Harold Lloyd feature Safety Last (1923), then was given the plum assignment of directing Bea Lillie's first film Exit Smiling (1925). Back with Lloyd, Taylor directed For Heaven's Sake (1926), then moved onward to such major productions as John Barrymore's Tempest (1928) and Mary Pickford's My Best Girl (1927). Pickford and her husband Douglas Fairbanks chose Taylor to helm their only costarring feature, 1929's all-talking Taming of the Shrew. This was the notorious film for which Taylor demanded that the credits read thusly: "Based on William Shakespeare's Comedy...with additional dialogue by Sam Taylor." The ridicule heaped upon Taylor by the Hollywood community was intensified when Shrew ended up an enormous flop. His talkie career never reached the heights of his silent days, though Harold Lloyd nostalgically re-engaged Taylor to direct The Cat's Paw (1934). In 1937, Sam teamed with his brother Matt to write a Broadway play, Stopover. Working as a publicist during the '40s, Sam Taylor was invited by MGM to direct one last film, the Laurel and Hardy vehicle Nothing But Trouble (1945). Though the film included an amusing small-scale recreation of Harold Lloyd's skyscraper sequence from Safety Last, Nothing But Trouble was tragic proof that the glory days of Sam Taylor -- and Stan and Ollie -- had long since passed. Sam Taylor's final contribution to the arts was a good suspense novel, The Man with My Face, which he helped adapt into a feature film in 1951.

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