Arthur Lubin

A graduate of Carnegie Tech, Arthur Lubin entered films as an actor in the 1920s, and after appearing in many films turned to directing in 1934, mainly for Universal. His forte was light comedy, but he helmed many different types of pictures for the studio. Lubin was the director Universal entrusted with its new comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello; he didn’t let the studio down, and the team’s films with Lubin, such as Buck Privates (1941), Hold That Ghost (1941) and Ride ‘Em Cowboy (1942), rank among their best. Lubin has said that while shooting an Abbott and Costello film he would have one camera do nothing but focus on Costello, who had so much energy that he would run around the set doing wild improvisations, make up bits of business and mischievously throw actors wrong cues or not cue them at all, making it impossible to plan a shot before shooting; with one camera focused solely on Costello, whatever craziness he was engaged in could be edited in (or out; Costello was renowned for his off-color ad libs) later. Lubin’s Abbott & Costello films saved Universal from bankruptcy, and as a reward he was handed the assignment of directing Universal’s remake of its silent classic, Phantom of the Opera (1943). It was very successful, and remains as Lubin’s highest-grossing and most critically acclaimed film. In the 1950s he was put in charge of the “Francis the Talking Mule” series, which also became successful, so much so that Lubin turned to television and developed another talking-animal series, the popular and long-running Mister Ed (1958).

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