Two made-on-demand discs from Warner Archive reveal odd moments from the career of director Norman Taurog, who resists most attempts to inhabit an auteur status. His long and prolific career, primarily in comedy and music, includes work with many stars such as W.C. Fields, Bing Crosby, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and Elvis Presley. Taurog won an Academy Award for Best Director with Skippy (1931), one of several boy-oriented movies in his catalogue, and was nominated again for Boys Town (1938).
The closer we look, however, the more he seems to embody the consummate professional journeyman, whose career depended on the script and actors rather than any personal stamp. Unfortunately, with mediocre material, the results are mediocre, and not interesting, failures.