Rogell attended Washington State College and made his living as a clerk and salesman before moving into theater, first as a stage electrician and later as a carpenter and prop man. He broke into movies in the Washington Picture Company in 1916 in Spokane, and moved to Hollywood the next year. He had a reputation for being a good, fast worker that remained throughout his career, and allowed him to move up to directing when he joined Universal Pictures in 1925. Rogell specialized in action films, and after his first talkie, The California Mail, in 1929 he was seldom at a loss for work, making the rounds between RKO, Columbia, Paramount, and Universal. Among his better films, all of which are lively if not artistically inspired, are Argentine Nights and Murder in Greenwich Village. Rogell was also the director of the strange 1940 non-musical version of Li'l Abner, with the cast playing in grotesque make-up.