In films as a utility player and comedy gag man from the mid-teens, Archie Mayo's first directing assignments consisted of slapstick 2-reelers. He began making features at Warner Bros. in 1926, just in time for that studio's switchover to sound. An efficient craftsman during his talkie years with Warners, Goldwyn and 20th Century-Fox, Mayo's great talent lay in not putting his personal stamp on his films; instead he allowed the personalities of his stars to dictate his films' style and substance. John Barrymore was the dominant force in the Mayo-directed Svengali (1931), just as James Cagney dominated The Mayor of Hell (1933) and George Raft and Bette Davis did the same in Bordertown (1935). Curiously, when Mayo became a free-lancer in the mid-1940s, he began asserting himself on the set in a most unattractive and obstreperous fashion. He fought constantly with Paul Muni during filming of Angel on My Shoulder (1946), while his tiltings with the Marx Brothers during Night in Casablanca (1946) moved Groucho Marx to dash off impassioned letters to his children, bemoaning the "fat slob" in the director's chair who was ruining the picture. After 12 years away from the business, Archie L. Mayo produced the obscure 1958 melodrama The Beast of Budapest.