William Beaudine

Active - 1909 - 1986  |   Born - Jan 15, 1892   |   Died - Mar 18, 1970   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Crime, Mystery

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Director William Beaudine's long association with the lowest of low-budget "B" pictures in the talkie era has tended to obscure his largely worthwhile silent efforts. Breaking into films in 1909 as a jack-of-all-trades for director D.W. Griffith, Beaudine directed his first film in 1915. He was most comfortable with films requiring homespun charm, notably the Wesley Barry vehicles Penrod and Sam (1923) and The Country Kid (1923) and the Mary Pickford starrers Little Annie Rooney (1925) and Sparrows (1926) (the latter film also contained several scenes of convincing and masterfully handled horror). His best silent film was also one of his least typical: the 1926 location-filmed The Canadian, based on a story by Somerset Maugham. Making a successful transition to sound, Beaudine gained a reputation for swiftness and efficiency, earning him the soubriquet "One Shot" Beaudine (an appellation that was either affectionate or derogatory, depending upon whom one talked to). He accepted an offer to make films in England in 1934, spending three years turning out such productions as the Will Hay vehicle Windbag the Sailor (1937). Upon returning to Hollywood, Beaudine found that he'd been by and large forgotten, and was forced to restart his career at the bottom, accepting $500-per-picture gigs at Columbia, Monogram, and PRC. He had no pretensions about his "art" during this period: when advised that he was running over schedule on an East Side Kids epic, Beaudine exclaimed "You mean someone out there is actually waiting to see this?" Nevertheless, Beaudine survived and prospered on the new terms dealt him by Hollywood, directing such bottom-barrel efforts as the Kroger Babb exploitation classic Mom and Dad (1944), the imitation Martin and Lewis extravaganza Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1955), and a brace of so-bad-they're-good horror "classics," Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966) and Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966). On a more worthwhile note, Beaudine was one of the principal directors for the Lassie TV series of the late 1950s and early 1960s, a task that he passed on to his son William Beaudine Jr. At the time of his retirement in 1967, William "One Shot" Beaudine was the oldest active director in Hollywood.

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