Acteurism: Joel McCrea

Born in South Pasadena, California, in 1905, Joel McCrea grew up in the film industry, rising through the ranks of extras and assistants to land his first studio contract in 1928.  Completely at home in front of the camera, McCrea projected a relaxed, lightly self-mocking quality that served him across a wide range of genres, from drawing-room comedies to Westerns. Slow to anger, reluctant to express hurt or desire, McCrea’s seemingly imperturbable characters anticipate the kind of ironic detachment that would not become a Hollywood norm until the 1960s—one reason why his work still seems fresh and natural to contemporary audiences. This series, drawn from 35mm prints in MoMA’s collection, presents an overview of McCrea’s early career, from 1932 to 1943.

Organized by Dave Kehr, Adjunct Curator, with Ashley Swinnerton, Collection Specialist,  Department of Film.