A former journalist, Roy Del Ruth entered films in 1915 as a screenwriter and gagman for Mack Sennett. Turning to directing two years later, he made two-reel comedies with such top comedians as Billy Bevan and Harry Langdon. He began directing features in the mid-‘20s, but found his niche with Warner Bros. in the early 1930s. Del Ruth was one of the directors who turned out the kind of gritty, tightly made urban and crime dramas for which Warners became famous. He left the studio and went to MGM, where he specialized in the kind of splashy, lavish musicals that made MGM’s reputation. Del Ruth was the stereotypical studio director—with the resources and backing of a major studio he was at the top of his form and capable of turning out solid, enjoyable, technically excellent films, but once he left the environment of a major studio and struck out on his own, his fortunes waned. After leaving MGM he made a few musicals and weak comedies (he was also responsible for what is generally considered… read more
W. S. \“Woody\” Van Dyke II inaugurated his career at age three as a stage actor, in the company of his widowed actress-mother. When acting jobs were scarce, young Van Dyke worked as a miner, electrician and (allegedly) a soldier-for-hire in Mexico during the ‘teens. In 1916, he was hired as one of several assistants to director D.W. Griffith, working in this capacity on Griffith’s mammoth Intolerance. After assisting director James Young at Paramount, Van Dyke was allowed to direct his first solo film in 1917. He spent most of the 1920s laboring on quickie Westerns, earning a reputation for speed and efficiency. In 1928, he was brought into MGM’s troubled production White Shadows on the South Seas, which, under the snail’s-pace direction of Robert J. Flaherty (a brilliant documentary maker whose skills at fictional filmmaking was slight), was running way behind schedule. When White Shadows opened to critical and audience approval, Van Dyke was elevated to Hollywood’s A-list of directors… read more
Fascinating mix of newspaper genre and lavish musical, with some smashing art deco sets (and sadly, some comedy skits that needed to be left on the editing room floor). Eleanor Powell's tap number in the finale is a technical marvel...especially when she walks right up and almost kisses the camera lens!