The coloring of an unassuming artisans career could alter radically if he switched companies. For Ray Enright, the change came in 1941 when he left Warners for Universal. Trained as an editor and supplier of comic material by Mack Sennett, he had served Warners for a dozen years, handling its cheerful musicals.
Dames is Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, and Joan Blondell, with choreography by Busby Berkeley. The title is expressive of Warners’ attitude to musicals and women, just as Berkeley’s presence speaks for their most creative aspect. But Twenty Million Sweethearts (Powell and Ginger Rogers); Ready. Willing and Able: Gold Diggers in Paris; and Naughty But Nice are robust, run-of-the-mill products. Bv 1940, Warners had shifted Enright into action pictures, and when he left the studio it meant his abandonment of the musical for good. Instead, he directed Universal adventures and Westerns, several of them B pictures.
They proved no better and no worse than the musicals, routine products, sure of their own limits, too knowing to waste stars or mishandle set pieces. The Spoilers has Dietrich, John Wayne, and Randolph Scott; Gang Ho! is Scott again; while Trail Street, at RKO, is an excellent Western with Scott and Robert Ryan. South of St. Louis, back at Warners in 1949, is a Western made with some skill, still looking better than later, more ambitious works in the genre. In short, Enright is usually worth seeing, so long as certain limits are recognized in advance.