Today is the birthday of legendary director William Beaudine (1892-1970). Beaudine’s legend, unlike many, is complicated. Famously prolific, having made somewhere between 350-500 films and tv shows in his long career, and having done so with amazing efficiency, his legacy is (to be charitable) mixed artistically, even as you admire his accomplishments on the production side.
Beaudine started out as an actor and assistant director at Biograph in 1909, working with D.W. Griffith, Mack Sennett and Dell Henderson. From here he went to Kalem, where he directed the Ham and Bud series starring Lloyd Hamilton and Bud Duncan. By the late 20s he had graduated to features, including some starring Mary Pickford. His most well known picture of the early sound era was The Old Fashioned Way (1934) starring W.C. Fields; he also directed talkie comedy shorts for Mack Sennett and Educational Studios (sometimes using a pseudonym). By the late 30s he was already becoming associated with low-budget serials, horror and formulaic comedy (notably the East Side Kids and Bowery Boys series).
And by the 50s and 60s, Beaudine’s ouerve becomes notorious, ranging from Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952) to Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966). But even so, at the same time he was cranking out respectable television work for the Walt Disney Company, as well as tv shows like The Green Hornet and Lassie. For more on William Beaudine’s low budget horror work go here.
For more on silent and slapstick comedy don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube