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  • Eskimo

  • Trader Horn

  • I Live My Life

  • Rose Marie

  • Rage in Heaven

  • I Married an Angel

  • Bitter Sweet

  • Naughty Marietta

  • Sweethearts

  • The Prizefighter and the Lady

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W.S. Van Dyke Biography

  • Profession: Director
  • Born: Mar 21, 1889
  • Died: Feb 5, 1943
  • Birth Name: Woodbridge Strong Van Dyke II

W. S. "Woody" Van Dyke II inaugurated his career at age three as a stage actor, in the company of his widowed actress-mother. When acting jobs were scarce, young Van Dyke worked as a miner, electrician and (allegedly) a soldier-for-hire in Mexico during the 'teens. In 1916, he was hired as one of several assistants to director D.W. Griffith, working in this capacity on Griffith's mammoth [[Feature~V25152~Intolerance~intolerance]]. After assisting director [[Performer~P117682~James Young~jamesyoung]] at Paramount, Van Dyke was allowed to direct his first solo film in 1917. He spent most of the 1920s laboring on quickie Westerns, earning a reputation for speed and efficiency. In 1928, he was brought into MGM's troubled production [[Feature~V54335~White Shadows on the South Seas~whiteshadowsinthesouthseas]], which, under the snail's-pace direction of [[Performer~P89937~Robert J. Flaherty~robertflaherty]] (a brilliant documentary maker whose skills at fictional filmmaking was slight), was running way behind schedule. When [[Feature~V116804~White Shadows~thewhiteshadow]] opened to critical and audience approval, Van Dyke was elevated to Hollywood's A-list of directors, though even when handed huge budgets and big stars he never altered his rush-it-through directorial technique (the one exception to this was his year-long sojourn on [[Feature~V114251~Trader Horn~traderhorn]] [1931]). "One Take Woody" was often derided by his fellow MGM directors, who bemoaned Van Dyke's "carelessness" and "sloppiness." However, Van Dyke's best films -- [[Feature~V49456~The Thin Man~thethinman]] (1934), [[Feature~V42760~San Francisco~sanfrancisco]] (1936), [[Feature~V96932~It's a Wonderful World~itsawonderfulworld]] (1939) -- hold up far better than the works of many of his more art-conscious colleagues. A favorite of no-nonsense leading men like [[Performer~P10097~Clark Gable~clarkgable]] and [[Performer~P57536~William Powell~williampowell]], Van Dyke was not held in as high esteem by certain actresses accustomed to being fussed over for hours before stepping in front of the cameras; still, he got along quite well with the temparamental [[Performer~P65025~Norma Shearer~normashearer]] when he took over direction of the troubled Shearer epic [[Feature~V31437~Marie Antoinette~marieantoinette]] (1938). Working at MGM until 1942, the year before his death, Van Dyke could take pride in the fact that virtually all his films made money for the studio -- and virtually none went over budget. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi