Douglas was initially a comedy director: Zenobia had Oliver Hardy with Harry Langdon, while Saps at Sea is classic Laurel and Hardy. For ten years, Douglas w'as working on one cheap series or another and only in the 1950s did he advance to substantial movies. Variety and variability have always characterized him more than anything else, but he is the director of several entertaining movies: Come Fill the Cup, with James Cagney as an alcoholic; The Charge at Feather River, an exciting Western that carries its 3D lightly; Them, an excellent science-fiction film about giant ants, with some atmospheric desert scenes; and Young at Heart, a Doris Day musical made sour by a disenchanted Sinatra.
Thereafter he declined under Liberace and some dull Clint Walker Westerns. Call Me Bwana, with Boh Hope, had little of his early talent, but Sylvia and Harlow saw him turn Joseph Levine and Carroll Baker to unexpected advantage. That early skill at handling Sinatra suddenly bore fruit with the deli-cious Tony Rome; Lady in Cement was not its equal but The Detective is a striking early picture of the policeman losing faith in his job. Douglas remained one of the few directors who could hold Sinatras interest.
When so many American directors were retiring or missing out, it says a lot for Douglas’s zest and flexibility that he made eighteen movies during the 1960s. As throughout the rest of his career, he moved arbitrarily from competence to rubbish and from tedium to a genuinely fresh and engaging film. The productivity befits a man who was trained by Hal Roach and who made some thirty shorts in the Our Gang series before graduating to features.