Joseph M. Newman worked his way up from office boy and clerk to writer and assistant director under George Cukor, Ernst Lubitsch and others. In 1937 he was briefly assigned to MGM's British section as a second unit director, but returned home within the year to direct short features. His occasional involvement in bigger productions included shooting the famous "Donkey Serenade" from The Firefly (1937), for which he did not receive screen credit. Indeed, he received two Oscar nominations as assistant director (a short-lived category in the awards). After directing his first full-length motion picture, Northwest Rangers (1942), Newman served in the war, rising to the rank of major, making documentaries and newsreels for the Signal Corps. The sense of realism and attention to detail he gained during this time served him in later years.
Many of his films, almost all second features and shot on modest budgets, use character actors rather than stars for the lead roles. They have a gritty, s