|My Valet (1915)||$3 /day|
|Don't Weaken! (1920)||$250 /week|
|Find Your Man (1924)||$400 /week|
|The Lighthouse by the Sea (1924)||$400 /week|
The son of a famous architect, California-born and -educated Mal St.Clair worked as a cartoonist for the Los Angeles Express before his first movie job as an extra and gagman at Keystone in 1915. After service in World War I, he returned to the film business, this time as a director alternating between Fox and Mack Sennett. He proved to have a talent for slapstick farce, as well as for elegant domestic comedy, but could also handle action films. Moreover, when the occasion demanded, he was able to keep a tight reign on some of Hollywood's more temperamental movie queens: Pola Negri in A Woman of the World (1925), Clara Bow in The Fleet's In (1928), Joan Crawford in Montana Moon (1930), and others.
His most fruitful collaborations were with Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton in the 1920s. One of his best films with Keaton was The Goat (1921), a break-neck farce based on mistaken identity. He also produced the hit social comedies Are Parents People? (1925) and The Grand Duchess and the Waiter (1926). Of the latter, Mordaunt Hall of the New York Times (2/9/26) commented that "dull moments" were "conspicuous by their absence". Mal directed an early version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1928), but no copies of this film are known to have survived. One of his notable non-comedic efforts was the Philo Vance mystery The Canary Murder Case (1929), which starred William Powell, Jean Arthur and Lupe Velez, and which won critical plaudits for the director. The New York Times commented (March 11,1929) "his flashes of the canary swinging on a trapeze in a theatre are so excellent that they bring to mind the photographic feats in Variety".
St. Clair's career began to falter with the advent of sound, but was somewhat reinvigorated with the all-star Hollywood Cavalcade (1939), for which he directed the Keystone Kops chase sequences. Between 1943 and 1945 he presided over four Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy features when the team left Roach and MGM for 20th Century-Fox, but the studio's attempt to revive the great slapstick comedies of the 1920s was spectacularly unsuccessful. After that his output declined somewhat, except for a few minor films he made for Sol M. Wurtzel's B-unit.
At 6'3" (some accounts say 6'7"), St. Clair had the distinction of being known as "the tallest director in Hollywood".