Director and producer John Stahl came to the motion picture industry with a wealth of stage experience. He was noted for the painstaking character of his work and often shot a scene many times before he thought it was right.
He won special attention after World War I with “Wives of Men,” made in New York where he began his career with an independent company.
His early films incorporated challenging and topical themes of the day. He would later bring his skills to light domestic comedies under contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He was with the company at its founding because he had previously been with Louis B. Mayer when he was a producer for First National.
Triumphs from his early days as a director with Universal included “Imitation of Life,” “Seed,” “Back Street” and “Only Yesterday,” which introduced Margaret Sullavan to the screen.
In later days, “Leave Her to Heaven,” which he directed for 20th Century Fox, won an Oscar for cinematography and an Academy Award nomination for Gene Tierney, and “The Keys of the Kingdom” cast the spotlight on Gregory Peck.
His later films included “The Foxes of Harrow” and “The Walls of Jericho” and lighter films such as “Oh, You Beautiful Doll,” a musical, and “Father Was a Fullback.”