Wesley Ruggles


Director
Wesley Ruggles

About

Birth Place
Los Angeles, California, USA
Born
June 11, 1889
Died
January 08, 1972
Cause of Death
Stroke

Biography

The brother of comic actor Charles Ruggles, Wesley Ruggles briefly followed in his brother's onscreen footsteps before forging a lengthy career as a director for such features as the Oscar-winning "Cimarron" (1931), "I'm No Angel" (1932) and "Arizona" (1940). He began directing in 1917, overseeing dozens of short comedies and melodramas before hitting his stride with the sprawling Wester...

Family & Companions

Arline Judge
Wife
Actor. Married 1931, divorced 1937.

Biography

The brother of comic actor Charles Ruggles, Wesley Ruggles briefly followed in his brother's onscreen footsteps before forging a lengthy career as a director for such features as the Oscar-winning "Cimarron" (1931), "I'm No Angel" (1932) and "Arizona" (1940). He began directing in 1917, overseeing dozens of short comedies and melodramas before hitting his stride with the sprawling Western "Cimarron," which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Director. Ruggles would direct some fine Hollywood comedies during the 1930s, including "I'm No Angel" with Mae West, and several vehicles for Carole Lombard, including "No Man of Her Own" (1932). Though prolific, Ruggles' directorial efforts rarely evinced any particular style, save for a talent for maintaining the pace in lighthearted efforts. By the 1940s, his career had run aground, with the 1946 British musical comedy "London Town" serving as the costly epitaph for his tenure behind the camera. Upon his death in 1972, Ruggles was largely regarded as a hard-working if unremarkable filmmaker whose vast body of work included several sparkling high points in the comedy genre.

Born June 11, 1889, Wesley Ruggles was the second of two sons born to pharmaceutical salesman Charles Herman Ruggles and his wife, Maria. His older brother, Charles, enjoyed a lengthy career in features and television as a comic supporting player in films like "Bringing Up Baby" (1938). The siblings' early lives were marked by considerable tragedy; relatives raised the boys in San Francisco after the murder of their mother, who had attempted to protect her husband from an armed assailant. While Charles worked briefly for his father's sales company, Wesley attended university in San Francisco before following his brother's lead and delving into acting with various stock companies. In 1914, Ruggles headed for Hollywood, where he landed work as a player with Mack Sennett's Keystone Film Company. The following year, he followed Charlie Chaplin to Essanay Studios, where he appeared in bit and uncredited roles in several of the comedy legend's one-reelers.

By 1917, he had signed to Vitagraph as a director, making his debut in that capacity with "Bobby, Movie Director" (1917). Ruggles' career was briefly interrupted during military service as a camera operator during the final months of World War I, after which he returned to Hollywood to continue his directorial work. Unfortunately, most of Ruggles' early efforts were forgettable comedies and melodramas for a variety of companies, including a slew of shorts for Joseph P. Kennedy's Film Booking Offices of America. He then moved for Universal in 1925 for another steady but unremarkable tenure before signing with RKO in 1931. There, he directed "Cimarron" (1931), an adaptation of the Edna Ferber Western drama that cost the studio $1.5 million to make, which was an astronomical sum, especially during the Great Depression. As a result, the studio was unable to recoup its costs at the box office, but "Cimarron" was an unqualified critical success, as well as an Oscar winner for Best Picture. Ruggles himself was nominated for Best Director, but lost to Norman Taurog's work on "Skippy" (1931). The following year, Ruggles signed with Paramount, which began his most acclaimed period as a filmmaker.

The release of "I'm No Angel" (1932), with Mae West in her quintessential turn as a wisecracking man-eater and Cary Grant as the befuddled object of her desire, minted Ruggles as a gifted comedy director, and preceded a lengthy string of lighthearted features. He directed Carole Lombard in three hit films - "No Man of Her Own" (1932), her only onscreen pairing with future husband Clark Gable; the breezy "Bolero" (1934), with George Raft and famed burlesque dancer Sally Rand; and "True Confession" (1937), with John Barrymore and Fred MacMurray - the latter of whom Ruggles would later collaborate on several features, including the Bing Crosby musical "Sing You Sinners" (1938). In between these assignments, he directed what many regarded as the best "women's picture of the decade, "Valiant is the Word for Carrie" (1936), with Gladys George, who received an Oscar nomination for her turn as a selfless, long-suffering woman raising two children, one of whom was played by Ruggles' then-wife, actress Arline Judge. The Oscar-nominated Western "Arizona" (1940), with Jean Arthur and William Holden, marked a successful return to the genre that helped to boost the director into the spotlight.

The latter picture proved to be Ruggles' last substantive hit. A slew of failed follow-ups, including the Dalton Trumbo-penned comedy "You Belong to Me" (1941), which reunited Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck, helped to bring his career to a halt by the mid-1940s. In 1946, he was brought to London by producer J. Arthur Rank to oversee "London Town" (1946), a splashy, oversized musical comedy that marked England's first foray into Technicolor filmmaking. Produced at considerable expense during a period of rationing in the wake of World War II, the film was a disaster for both Rank and Ruggles, who never directed another feature. He resurfaced briefly in 1962 as producer and writer for the obscure "Out of the Tiger's Mouth," a drama about the hardships faced by two Chinese children. His final screen credit came as associate producer of "The Incredible World of James Bond" (NBC, 1965), a one-hour television special promoting the spy movie franchise and its then-current entry, "Thunderball," (1965). Ruggles died at the age of 72 on Jan. 8, 1972 in Santa Monica, CA.

By Paul Gaita

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

London Town (1946)
Director
See Here, Private Hargrove (1944)
Director
Slightly Dangerous (1943)
Director
Somewhere I'll Find You (1942)
Director
You Belong to Me (1941)
Director
Too Many Husbands (1940)
Director
Arizona (1940)
Director
Invitation to Happiness (1939)
Director
Sing You Sinners (1938)
Director
I Met Him in Paris (1937)
Director
True Confession (1937)
Director
Valiant Is the Word for Carrie (1936)
Director
The Bride Comes Home (1936)
Director
Mississippi (1935)
Fill-In Director
Accent on Youth (1935)
Director
The Gilded Lily (1935)
Director
Bolero (1934)
Director
Shoot the Works (1934)
Director
The Monkey's Paw (1933)
Director
I'm No Angel (1933)
Director
College Humor (1933)
Director
Roar of the Dragon (1932)
Director
No Man of Her Own (1932)
Director
Cimarron (1931)
Director
Are These Our Children (1931)
Director
Honey (1930)
Director
The Sea Bat (1930)
Director
Street Girl (1929)
Director
Condemned (1929)
Director
Girl Overboard (1929)
Director
Scandal (1929)
Director
Port of Dreams (1929)
Director
The Fourflusher (1928)
Director
Finders Keepers (1928)
Director
Beware of Widows (1927)
Director
Silk Stockings (1927)
Director
A Man of Quality (1926)
Director
The Kick-Off (1926)
Director
Broadway Lady (1925)
Director
The Plastic Age (1925)
Director
The Age of Innocence (1924)
Director
The Remittance Woman (1923)
Director
Mr. Billings Spends His Dime (1923)
Director
Slippy McGee (1923)
Director
The Heart Raider (1923)
Director
If I Were Queen (1922)
Director
Wild Honey (1922)
Director
Uncharted Seas (1921)
Director
Over the Wire (1921)
Director
The Greater Claim (1921)
Director
The Desperate Hero (1920)
Director
The Leopard Woman (1920)
Director
Love (1920)
Director
Sooner or Later (1920)
Director
The Winchester Woman (1919)
Director
Piccadilly Jim (1919)
Director
The Blind Adventure (1918)
Director
Outcast (1917)
Assistant Director
For France (1917)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Charlie Chaplin's Burlesque on "Carmen" (1916)
The tramp

Writer (Feature Film)

London Town (1946)
From Story
Are These Our Children (1931)
Story

Producer (Feature Film)

London Town (1946)
Producer
You Belong to Me (1941)
Producer
Too Many Husbands (1940)
Producer
Arizona (1940)
Producer
Invitation to Happiness (1939)
Producer
Sing You Sinners (1938)
Producer
I Met Him in Paris (1937)
Producer

Production Companies (Feature Film)

Arizona (1940)
Company
Invitation to Happiness (1939)
Company
Sing You Sinners (1938)
Company
True Confession (1937)
Company
Valiant Is the Word for Carrie (1936)
Company
The Bride Comes Home (1936)
Company
Cimarron (1931)
Company

Cast (Short)

Her Torpedoed Love (1917)
A Submarine Pirate (1915)
His Accomplice
Lover's Lost Control (1915)

Life Events

Photo Collections

The Gilded Lily - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of Paramount Pictures' The Gilded Lily (1935), starring Claudette Colbert.

Videos

Movie Clip

See Here, Private Hargrove (1944) - Fort Bragg Date Bureau Robert Walker, the innocent title character, thinks Mulvehill and Esty (Keenan Wynn, George Offerman) have sold him a legit date through their bogus "date bureau" with widely-admired Carol (Donna Reed), whose uncle (Grant Mitchell) takes pity, in See Here, Private Hargrove, 1944.
See Here, Private Hargrove (1944) -- (Movie Clip) Is This Your First War? Cordial greetings on the draftee bus, between Hargrove (Robert Walker, playing the writer and title character, who was still only 25, in the feature based on his best-selling novel), Esty (George Offerman) and Mulvehill (Keenan Wynn), followed by comeuppance at induction ceremonies, in See Here, Private Hargrove, 1944.
College Humor (1933) - Play Ball! Opening the picture with Bing Crosby’s first appearance in his first movie playing someone other than himself, with colleagues Jimmy Conlin, James Burke and James Donlan and an un-credited song, as professor Danvers, in Paramount’s not just comedy feature College Humor, 1933, with Jack Oakie and Mary Carlisle.
College Humor (1933) - Down The Old Ox Road Joining in an already elaborate musical montage with an original song by Paramount staffers Arthur Johnston and Sam Coslow, jock Barney and sorority gal Amber (Jack Oakie and Mary Kornman) on their first date eventually tumble to singing professor Danvers (Bing Crosby), in College Humor 1933.
College Humor (1933) - Colleen Of Killarney Mary Kornman is daffy co-ed Amber, inquiring with George Burns and Gracie Allen, who appear here unbidden in their first scene, using their own names, before their radio show, known mostly at the time for Paramount one-reelers, maneuvering into an un-credited song, in Paramount’s sprawling College Humor, 1933.
Arizona (1940) - Opening: Tucson Credits and prologue lead to an intimate review of a wagon train and its arrival in at Tucson, led by Muncie (William Holden) and Haley (George Chandler) in director Wesley Ruggles' Arizona, 1940.
Arizona (1940) - No Serenadin' Feisty Phoebe (Jean Arthur) expressing her intention to make something of her enterprise in Tucson despite rampant corruption, as the judge (Edgar Buchanan) sentences Joe (Earl Crawford) and drifter Muncie (William Holden) steers clear, in Arizona, 1940.
Arizona (1940) - Do What The Lady Says Tough Phoebe Titus (Jean Arthur), known to be the only woman in the territory, demands some justice from Ward (Porter Hall) and his men Timmins and Longstreet (Sid Saylor and Wade Crosby), with an assist from new-in-town Muncie (William Holden) in Wesley Ruggles' Arizona, 1940.
No Man Of Her Own (1932) - My Usual Life Of Sin Clark Gable as Manhattan gambler Stewart needs to get outa town, choosing Glendale where Connie (Carole Lombard, the future Mrs. Gable, in their only picture together), resides, and life is not all sweet, Elizabeth Patterson her mom, early in No Man Of Her Own, 1932
No Man Of Her Own (1932) - I Only Have Aces And Kings High dollar gambling in Manhattan, the relationships revealed for the benefit of the losing Morton (Walter Walker), Clark Gable as Stewart, Dorothy Mackaill as dishy Kay, Grant Mitchell her uncle, all not as it seems, Wesley Ruggles directing, opening No Man Of Her Own, 1932, co-starring Carole Lombard.
No Man Of Her Own (1932) - Do Your Eyes Bother You? Clark Gable, as Manhattan gambler Babe Stewart hiding out briefly in pastoral Glendale, surrenders $2 for a library card, his real target being the librarian Connie (Carole Lombard), whom he just met outside, the future married couple’s first scene together, in No Man Of Her Own, 1932.
Sing You Sinners (1938) - Don't Let That Moon Get Away Bing Crosby is nearly ne’er-do-well brother Joe, quite innocently escorting his older brother’s fianceè (Ellen Drew) at a night club where the band leader (Harry Barris) coaxes him into a song, an original by John Burke and James V. Monaco, in Paramount’s Sing You Sinners, 1938.

Family

Charles Ruggles
Brother
Actor.

Companions

Arline Judge
Wife
Actor. Married 1931, divorced 1937.

Bibliography