A busy second-unit director at small-scale FBO in the late silent era, James Dugan also assisted such contract directors as Phil Rosen and Ralph Ince. Dugan was elevated to full directorship on two Tom Tyler Westerns, Desert Pirate (1927) and Phantom of the Range (1928). His only other solo film, Her Summer Hero (1928), was a comedy featuring the studio's younger set. Dugan, who occasionally also accepted minor acting chores, later assisted director Lowell Sherman on Mae West's She Done Him Wrong (1932). His death was attributed to heart disease.