Marshall had few equals for labor and survival. In 1912 he was an extra, and by 1914 he was acting in Universal shorts and serials. He was a director by 1917, on Ruth Roland serials, Harry Carey Westerns, and even Bobby Jones golf shorts. His output ol silent features was, in fact, considerably larger than his list of sound films. Only in the sixties did the pace begin to tell. Marshall seemed to have consented to retirement, and his last three movies were disappointing. But until the early 1960s he was an able director of most forms of comedy. Indeed, he had directed not only Laurel and Hardy, W. C. Fields (You Can 't Cheat an Honest Man), Bob Hope (in Fancy Pants and Monsieur Beaucaire, as well as the two duds in 1967), Martin and Lewis (in their first film My Friend Irma and in Scared Stiff), but the droll Western, The Sheepman. That film, coaxing out the gentle humor of Glenn Ford, is one of his most engaging and characteristic pictures.
Longevity persuaded some commentators into the belief that Marshall had worked in all possible genres. This is not true: he disliked real violence, and hardly touched the crime film, the horror film, or the serious war picture, though Advance to the Rear relates to that genre as The Sheepman does to the Western. His happiest forte was mild, satirical comedy—The Sheepman is in much the same vein as Destry Rides Again, that inspired pairing of Dietrich and James Stewart. He had made straight Westerns, but with less success. Equally, The Ghost Breakers (remade as Scared Stiff) is a comic approach to horror. Among musicals, the stylized Red Garters was years ahead of its time (Marshall replaced Mitchell Leisen on that film). The Blue Dahlia is an excellent Alan Ladd/Veronica Lake romantic thriller. Marshall had also showm a taste for glamorous, scarcely accurate biopies and Incendiary Blonde (Bettv Hutton as Texas Guinan), The Perils of Pauline (Hutton as Pearl White), and Houdini (Tony Curtis) are enjoyable hokum.