Before he was a well-respected film director, Gordon Douglas was a lowly teenage production intern whose go-getter attitude convinced his boss, famed media mogul Hal Roach, to cast him in the youthfully mischievous short-film series "Our Gang." Already too old to join the central Little Rascals, he was instead given a succession of bit parts. In short order, he gleaned a thorough enough sense of the series' ins and outs to take on writing and directing roles, eventually emerging as "Gang"'s most dedicated (and prosperous) overseer, even going so far as to follow the eternally celebrated franchise when it moved to MGM. He ultimately realized, however, that he much preferred the homespun stylings of Roach's studio, and he returned there, sans Rascals, to find further success as the director of such freewheeling comedies as the gleefully daft Laurel and Hardy adventure "Saps at Sea" (1940). A skilled features director by the time Hal Roach Studios folded altogether, he found a new permanent residence at Warner Bros. in 1950. Over the course of the following three decades, Douglas spread his wings as a multi-genre filmmaker, directing the quintessential atomic-age creeper "Them!" before making a distinct move toward savvier, more sophisticated projects such as the hard-edged detective dramas "They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!" and the forthrightly titled "The Detective." He retired from the business in 1977 and died of cancer years later at the age of 85.
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First short film as director ("Our Gang" comedies)
Feature film co-directing debut with "General Spanky"
First feature film as sole director