The younger brother of director/writer/producer Leo McCarey, McCarey began working in films as a prop boy in the mid '20s, and soon gained experience as an editor, assistant director, and scriptwriter. He began directing short comedies with the Hal Roach studios in the early '30s, and is forever beloved for having guided the debut performance of three-year-old "Spanky" McFarland in the Little Rascals short Free Eats. He also helmed the Laurel and Hardy two-reeler Scram! and with George Marshall co-directed their feature Pack Up Your Troubles. McCarey left Roach soon after and while at Columbia helmed the classic Three Stooges shorts Men in Black and Three Little Pigskins. His subsequent features were mostly low-budget genre films, including the musical Atlantic City and the mystery The Falcon's Alibi.