Son of Paleface was Frank Tashlin's second film as a director -- his first, appropriately enough, was The First Time, which TCM will be showing in July -- and I just found out that he wrote an article for the New York Times about his experiences making the movie. Not a whole lot of insight into the production, since it's basically a humor piece, but it's still valuable as a behind-the-scenes account of the greatest and most subversive sequel before Gremlins 2, so I'm transcribing it here. He doesn't mention his animation background here, of course.
New York Times
October 5, 1952
"Son of Paleface" Went Thataway
By Frank Tashlin
Mr. Tashlin is the director and co-scenarist of "Son of Paleface," now at the Paramount.
Inasmuch as a certain lady reporter was in Culver City at the time, documenting the appetite and habits of a dog, the script of "Son of Paleface," Paramount production 10104, Revised, Final, White, came out of the Paramount mimeographing department unheralded. It consisted of a blue cover, 112 pages, weighing less than a pound.
During the preparation of the script the writers -- Robert L. Welch, Joseph Quillan and myself -- had eaten at Chasens at least three times and not one of us had been called "darling" by anyone. Even the East Coast myth of front-office interference was absent. Barney Balaban, Y. Frank Freeman, Don Hartman and D.A. Doran approved the script, set aside enough money to operate Oak Ridge for a day and signed contracts for four veteran performers to appear in the Technicolor production. After writing apologetic letters to the Paramount stockholders, these front-office gentlemen hied themselves to the Hollywood hills.
Bob Hope was veteran of thirty motion pictures; Jane Russell had pleased veterans in seven motion pictures; and Roy Rogers and Trigger had explored the vastness of Corrigan's ranch in eighty-eight motion pictures. The director of "Son of Paleface" was the veteran of one motion picture.
Previously -- as do most motion picture writers -- I had regarded directors as an evil, necessary to bring words and plot to their final two dimensions -- sour, growly gentlemen, critical of every page of script. With the star of shooting began an awareness of their problems; and, as director, I became extremely critical of two-thirds of the script -- the third I authored I insisted would play beautifully. I'm still insisting, though the floor of Eda Warren's cutting room, in some cases, proved otherwise.
Putting Mr. Hope through his paces has difficulties for the director. His thirty-picture memory draws a bead on the particular joke you are trying to sell him. He remembers a similar routine in "Road to Singapore." A fast rewrite is called for and the material is given what you hope is a new twist. No. Mr. Hope recalls that he did that twist in "Sorrowful Jones." His narrowed eyes, squinting at you down that much maligned nose, is a withering experience. Your puttees curl and your megaphone sags. Lunchtime is spent in digging for a new piece of business and Mr. Hope's approbation.
With Miss Russell I decided on a daring innovation. I photographed her legs.
The approach to directing Roy Rogers is the approach used by Cecil B. DeMille in his picturization of the Old and New Testament -- no deviation from the Sacred Word is allowed. The tenets in this case are contained in the unwritten Code of the West -- notwithstanding the birth rate in Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, etc., motion-picture cowboys cannot indulge in "Fade Out" bussing. From Tom Mix to Roy Rogers, the present King of the Cowboys, this commandment has held fast. Horse kissing is perfectly permissible -- girl kissing, never.
The script called for Miss Russell to fall in love with Mr. Rogers. A serenade below her balcony was to culminate in an embrace. But at the last moment this was eliminated from the script... by breakfast-food lobbyists who claimed Young America might change their eating habits if ever their hero was seen caressing anything but his horse's furry nozzle.
My inexperience as a director reached nervous proportions the day Mr. DeMille arrived on the set, having consented to play a small part as a kind of Western Matthew Brady. This guest shot was in retaliation for a similar appearance made by Mr. Hope in a sequence of DeMille's "The Greatest Show On Earth." Directing Mr. DeMille (veteran of more than seventy motion pictures) in how to do the scene was like telling Washington how to spend money. Mr. DeMille saw the scene playing one way -- I saw it playing just the opposite. A crisis developed, with everyone taking sides. But I'll show them -- I'll do it my way in another picture.
As a youngster I remember the admiration I held for Frank Buck. His handling of wild animals filled me with awe. I realize now that my hero-worship was not misplaced. Animal direction is a craft all its own. In "Son of Paleface," besides Trigger, we had two vultures (the script called for buzzards, but the available Hollywood buzzards were at that moment occupied). Besides the vultures, we also had two penguins.
Contrary to a certain lady reporter, none of the creatures ate bananas -- and none insisted on lobster thermidor.