Monta Bell

Monta Bell (February 5, 1891 – February 4, 1958) was an American film director, producer and screenwriter.

Monta Bell
Louis Monta Bell

(1891-02-05)February 5, 1891
DiedFebruary 4, 1958(1958-02-04) (aged 66)
Years active1925-1942
Spouse(s)Betty Lawford (1931-1937)


Starting as a journalist in Washington DC, Bell later played on stage and entered films in 1923 as an actor. Charlie Chaplin employed Bell as a film editor and assistant director, and in 1924, he became a full-fledged director of sophisticated sex comedies. Bell is known for directing Torrent, Greta Garbo's first American film.

Bell joined Paramount Pictures, serving as head of production at the Astoria Studios in Astoria, Queens in New York. As sound films came, Bell directed a number of high comedies and low melodramas and later moved to producing films.

Bell had a pet schipperke at this time which he taught to do a trick he called "Hollywood." Helen Laidlaw, wife of one of Bell's writers, said, "He would say, 'Come on, do Hollywood,' and the dog would lie down on its back and spread its legs."[1]

Bell was married for six years to actress Betty Lawford, cousin of actor Peter Lawford. Monta directed 20 films from 1924 to 1945. In addition, he produced 20 films and wrote 9 screenplays.

He died on February 4, 1958 at the Motion Picture Country House and Hospital, one day before his 67th birthday.[2] He is interred in Section 8 Garden of Legends in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, CA

Partial filmography


  1. Eyman, Scott. The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution 1926-1930. Simon and Schuster, New York: 1997.
  2. "Monta Bell Dies. Ex-Film Director. Sound Movies. Was 66. Newsman and Actor". New York Times. February 5, 1958. Retrieved March 9, 2010. Monta Bell, former film writer, director and producer, died today at the Motion Picture Country House and Hospital. He would have been 67 years old ...
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