Sidney Lanfield

Active - 1929 - 2004  |   Born - Apr 20, 1898   |   Died - Jun 30, 1972   |   Genres - Comedy, Musical, Romance, Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

From his first gagman job at the Fox Studios in 1926 to his last TV work in the 1960s, director Sidney Lanfield was one of Hollywood's premiere comedy men. A onetime musician, Lanfield earned his first directorial credit for the 1930 Fox programmer Cheer Up and Smile, remaining at the studio through its matriculation into 20th Century-Fox (among his many accomplishments at Fox, it was Lanfield who brought the Ritz Brothers to the studio, transforming an essentially "live" act into a major movie attraction). After megging the 1941 Fred Astaire vehicle You'll Never Get Rich at Columbia, Lanfield set up shop at Paramount, where among many other projects he guided Bob Hope through the comic complications of My Favorite Blonde (1942), Let's Face It (1943), Where There's Life (1947), and The Lemon Drop Kid (1951). Reportedly, Hope had originally balked at working with Lanfield because of the latter's rep as a strict taskmaster, but the two ex-vaudevillians got along famously. Considering his comedy credits, it's surprising to learn that Lanfield's most profitable film was the inaugural Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes film The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939). After his final big-screen directorial job in 1952, Sidney Lanfield turned to television, directing numerous episodes of such laughspinners as McHale's Navy.

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