Gordon Douglas (director)
|This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (January 2010)|
|Born||Gordon Douglas Brickner
December 15, 1907
New York City, New York, United States
|Died||September 29, 1993
Los Angeles, California, United States
|Cause of death||Cancer|
|Spouse(s)||Julia Mock Douglas|
Gordon Douglas (December 15, 1907 – September 29, 1993) was an American film director, who directed many different genres of films over the course of a five-decade career in motion pictures. He was a native of New York City.
Hal Roach and Our Gang
As a teenager he got a job at the Hal Roach Studios, working in the office and appearing in bit parts in various Hal Roach films. He made walk-on appearances in at least three Our Gang shorts: Teacher’s Pet, Big Ears and Birthday Blues.
By 1934 Douglas was assistant to director Gus Meins and served as assistant director on Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s 1934 film Babes in Toyland and on the Our Gang comedies made between 1934 and mid-1936.
Beginning with Bored of Education in 1936, Our Gang moved from two-reel (20-minute) comedies to one-reel (10-minute) comedies, and Douglas became the senior director of the series. Bored of Education won the 1936 Academy Award for Live Action Short Film, and was the only Our Gang entry ever honored with the award. Douglas remained with the series as director for two years.
Roach sold the Our Gang unit to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in May 1938. Douglas directed two MGM Our Gangs on loan from Roach, The Little Ranger (1938) and before deciding that he could not get used to the more industrialized atmosphere at the larger studio.
Returning to his home studio, Douglas directed the feature Zenobia (1939) with Oliver Hardy teamed with Harry Langdon instead of Stan Laurel. It was a box office disappointment so Laurel and Hardy were reunited for Douglas' next film, Saps at Sea (1940) (Laurel and Hardy's last film produced by the Hal Roach Studio) and All-American Co-Ed with former Our Gang member Johnny Downs..
For Roach he co-wrote and directed the feature Broadway Limited (1941) and provided the story for Topper Returns (1941). His last film for Roach was the featurette The Devil with Hitler (1942). He might have stayed with Roach indefinitely, but Roach turned his studio over to the U.S. Army for the production of wartime training films.
Douglas moved over to RKO Pictures. He made a series of low budget comedies including The Great Gildersleeve (1942), based on the radio show; and its sequel Gildersleeve on Broadway (1943), Gildersleeve's Bad Day (1943) and Gildersleeve's Ghost (1944). He also helmed The Falcon in Hollywood (1944), Girl Rush (1944), A Night of Adventure (1944), First Yank into Tokyo (1945).
Columbia used Douglas on Mr. Soft Touch (1949), Between Midnight and Dawn (1950), Rogues of Sherwood Forest (1950), Fortunes of Captain Blood (1950), and The Nevadan (1950). They loaned him to British Lion to make State Secret (1950) in England.
Cagney Productions and Warner Bros
James Cagney was making a film for Warner Bros, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950) with his brother William, and they hired Douglas to direct. Douglas signed long-term deals with Cagney Productions and Warners.
For Paramount he made The Great Missouri Raid (195. He was meant to make a second film for Paramount but they released him so Cagney could use him again on Only the Valiant (1951) a Western with Gregory Peck.
Douglas went on to established himself as one of Warners' leading directors of the 1950s, working in all genres: I Was a Communist for the FBI (1951); Come Fill the Cup (1951), produced by Cagney starring James Cagney; The Iron Mistress (1952) a biopic of Jim Bowie starring Alan Ladd; Mara Maru (1952), an adventure story with Errol Flynn; So This Is Love (1953), a musical biopic of Grace Moore; The Charge at Feather River (1954), a 3D Western; She's Back on Broadway (1953), a musical; Them! (1954), a science fiction film; Young at Heart (1955), with Doris Day and Frank Sinatra; Sincerely Yours (1955) with Liberace; The McConnell Story (1955), a biopic of Joseph C. McConnell with Alan Ladd; Santiago (1956) with Ladd; Bombers B-52 (1957) and The Big Land (1957), a Western with Ladd.
His three low-budget westerns starring Clint Walker--Fort Dobbs (1958), Yellowstone Kelly (1959) and Gold of the Seven Saints (1961, from a screenplay by Leigh Brackett originally commissioned by Howard Hawks)--have been compared to Budd Boetticher's contemporary minimalist westerns with Randolph Scott.
20th Century Fox
Douglas made Tony Rome (1967) with Sinatra at Fox, and the Western Chuka (1967) for star-producer Rod Taylor at Paramount. There were two more with Sinatra at Fox, The Detective (1968) and a sequel to Tony Rome, Lady in Cement (1968).
After the Western Barquero (1970), Douglas did Skullduggery (1970) and directed Sidney Poitier's They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (1971) for the Mirisches. He did some uncredited directing on Skin Game (1971).
Slaughter's Big Rip-Off (1973) was a blaxploitaton film and Nevada Smith (1975) a TV movie.
Douglas returned to Warner Bros. for his final film, 1977's Viva Knievel!, in which the stuntman Evel Knievel played himself in a fanciful biography.
Reportedly, Douglas was the only person to ever direct both Elvis and Sinatra on film.
Attempting to explain his prodigious directorial output, Douglas told Bertrand Tavernier:
I have a large family to feed, and it's only occasionally that I find a story that interests me."
Gordon Douglas died of cancer on September 29, 1993 in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 85. He was survived by his wife Julia Mack Douglas, son Gary Douglas, daughter Cathie Graham, and a grandson.
- The Infernal Triangle (1935)
- Lucky Beginners (1935) (short)
- General Spanky (1936)
- Spooky Hooky (1936) (short)
- Pay As You Exit (1936) (short)
- Two Too Young (1936) (short)
- Bored of Education (1936) (short)
- The Pigskin Palooka (1937) (short)
- Framing Youth (1937) (short)
- Fishy Tales (1937) (short)
- Night 'n' Gales (1937) (short)
- Roamin' Holiday (1937) (short)
- Three Smart Boys (1937) (short)
- Rushin' Ballet (1937) (short)
- Hearts Are Thumps (1937) (short)
- Glove Taps (1937) (short)
- Our Gang Follies of 1938 (1937) (short)
- Reunion in Rhythm (1937) (short) aka ''Our Gang Follies in 1937
- Aladdin's Lantern (1938) (short)
- The Little Ranger (1938) (short)
- Hide and Shriek (1938) (short)
- Feed 'em and Weep (1938) (short)
- Came the Brawn (1938) (short)
- Bear Facts (1938) (short)
- Canned Fishing (1938) (short)
- Zenobia (1939) aka Elephants Never Forget
- Saps at Sea (1940)
- Niagara Falls (1941)
- Broadway Limited (1941)
- The Great Gildersleeve (1942)
- The Devil with Hitler (1942)
- Gildersleeve on Broadway (1943)
- Gildersleeve's Bad Day (1943)
- The Falcon in Hollywood (1944)
- Girl Rush (1944)
- Gildersleeve's Ghost (1944)
- A Night of Adventure (1944)
- First Yank into Tokyo (1945) aka Mask of Fury
- Zombies on Broadway (1945)
- San Quentin (1946)
- Dick Tracy vs. Cueball (1946)
- Walk a Crooked Mile (1948)
- The Black Arrow (1948)
- If You Knew Susie (1948)
- Mr. Soft Touch (1949)
- House of Settlement (1949)
- The Great Manhunt (1949)
- The Doolins of Oklahoma (1949)
- Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)
- Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950)
- Rogues of Sherwood Forest (1950)
- Fortunes of Captain Blood (1950)
- The Nevadan (1950)
- The Great Missouri Raid (1951)
- Come Fill the Cup (1951)
- I Was a Communist for the FBI (1951)
- Only the Valiant (1951)
- The Iron Mistress (1952)
- Mara Maru (1952)
- So This Is Love (1953) aka The Grace Moore Story
- The Charge at Feather River (1953)
- She's Back on Broadway (1953)
- Young at Heart (1954)
- Them! (1954)
- Sincerely Yours (1955)
- The McConnell Story (1955)
- Santiago (1956)
- Bombers B-52 (1957)
- Stampeded (1957)
- No Sleep Til Dawn (1957)
- The Big Land (1957)
- The Fiend Who Walked the West (1958)
- Fort Dobbs (1958)
- Yellowstone Kelly (1959)
- Up Periscope (1959)
- The Miracle (1959) (battle scenes)
- Claudelle Inglish (1961) aka Young and Eager
- Gold of the Seven Saints (1961)
- The Sins of Rachel Cade (1961)
- Follow that Dream (1962)
- Call Me Bwana (1963)
- Rio Conchos (1964)
- Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964)
- Sylvia (1965)
- Harlow (1965)
- Way...Way Out (1966)
- Stagecoach (1966)
- Tony Rome (1967)
- Chuka (1967)
- In Like Flint (1967)
- The Detective (1968)
- Lady in Cement (1968)
- Barquero (1970)
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (1970)
- Skullduggery (1970)
- Skin Game (1971) (uncredited)
- Slaughter's Big Rip-Off (1973)
- Nevada Smith (1975) (TV movie)
- Viva Knievel! (1977)
- Gordon Douglas; Directed 'Our Gang' Films BURT A FOLKART TIMES STAFF WRITER. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]02 Oct 1993: OCA36.
- "Gordon Douglas, 85, 'Our Gang' Director (obituary)". New York Times. October 2, 1993.
- FILMLAND BRIEFS Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]27 June 1950: A7.
- Kehr, Dave (August 27, 2010). "On DVD, ‘Pandora and the Flying Dutchman'". The New York Times.
- Kehr, Dave (29 August 2013). "Film: Video: Portraits of Antisocial Individualism". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
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