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Isidore "Dore" Schary worked his way up from a $1,000 a week writing job (winning an Academy Award for his contributions to Boys Town (1938)) to becoming the man who usurped the all-powerful Louis B. Mayer -- one of the "M"s in MGM -- from his throne. While Schary didn't have Mayer's knack for judging an actor's screen appeal, he believed in cinema's power to change the world. His love of unsentimental "message" pictures can be seen in MGM Story (1950), a glitzy promotional reel highlighting the kind of big, socially conscious stories Schary wanted to make. Highlights of the "60 magic minutes inside Hollywood's biggest studio!" (as the trailer breathlessly proclaims) include scenes from Quo Vadis (1951) the most expensive film of the period. During his iron-fisted tenure, Schary kept MGM apace with the new threat of television by expanding the studio's yearly output, but it wasn't enough. MGM fired Schary in 1956, never quite regaining the luster it had during the glory years of the studio system. Maybe the most fitting epitaph of Schary's reign is Spencer Tracy's complaint to Clark Gable, "Since Schary took over, nobody gets laid at MGM."
By Violet LeVoit