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Jules White (September 17, 1900 – April 30, 1985) was an American film director and producer of Austro-Hungarian origin, best known for his work in the comedy shorts of The Three Stooges.
His real name was Julius Weiss, and he was born in Budapest, Hungary, at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. White began his film career in the 1910s, as a child actor for Pathé. Later he played a small role in The Birth of a Nation. In the following decade his brother Jack White had confirmed himself as a successful producer of comedies for Educational Pictures, and Jules worked for him as an editor. In 1926 Jules began as a director, specializing in the filming of comedies.
In 1930, White and his childhood friend Zion Myers entered the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. They devised or co-directed MGM’s “Dogville” comedies, in which trained dogs acted and which were satires of films shot recently in Hollywood (such as The Dogway Melody and So Quiet on the Canine Front). White and Myers also co-directed Buster Keaton’s feature film Sidewalks of New York, and released a series of “Goofy Movies,” which were parodies of melodramas from the silent era.
In 1933, Jules White was named director of the shorts division of Columbia Pictures, which became Hollywood’s most prolific comedy factory. At a time when cinemas were showing two feature-length shows, the producers shot few comic shorts; In the mid-1930s, the three largest comedy producers -Hal Roach, Educational Pictures and Universal Pictures-reduced their operations. In contrast, in 1938 Columbia’s shorts department was so busy that White split it into two units. White produced for the first unit, and Hugh McCollum (former executive secretary of the director of Harry Cohn) for the second, alternating the comic stars of Columbia between the units of White and McCollum.
Entrusting himself to McCollum on behalf of administrative work, White devoted himself to his first hobby: directing. He began directing Columbia shorts in 1938, becoming the most prolific director of the department. His sound films were shot using an original silent film method. The visual action was very quick, and the actors gesticulated a lot and reacted violently. This emphasis on slapstick comedy worked well in the right context, but it was not always the case. However, the public loved this kind of comedies, and Columbia produced more than 500 of them over a quarter of a century.
Physical comedy was the norm for White’s shorts, and some of his favorite gags were repeated over the years, his style being more evident in the short films starring comedic veterans Wally Vernon and Eddie Quillan. < / p>
In the 1950s, White worked so fast and economically that he was able to shoot a short film in a day. His system was to borrow footage from previous films, to which he added new scenes, often using the same actors, costumes and sets. Although most of his comedies of those years were almost identical to the ones he shot in the previous decade, he still shot material from scratch, as was the case with three comedies shot in 3D Cinema, Spooks! and Pardon My Backfire (1953), with The Three Stooges, and Down the Hatch, starring Harry Mimmo.
In 1956, when other studios had abandoned the production of shorts, Jules White had the open path to experiment with new ideas. Many of his comedies of The Three Stooges now had new material, with a musical theme or science fiction, and often with references to topics of rock and roll and movies of the time. White even launched a new series, “Girlie Whirls,” starring Muriel Landers, although only one film was shot before White assigned her to one of the comedies of The Three Stooges.
Columbia closed its shorts department at the end of 1957. White worked on television at Screen Gems, a subsidiary of Columbia, in the early 1960s, creating the 1962 sitcom Oh! Those Bells, and co-producing his pilot episode with his brother Sam White, although he decided to retire soon.
About 40% of White’s productions were performed by The Three Stooges. In his other films there were stars like Buster Keaton, Andy Clyde, Harry Langdon, Hugh Herbert, Vera Vague and El Brendel.
Jules White died in 1985 in Van Nuys, California, due to an Alzheimer’s disease. He was buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.
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