John E. Burch

John E. Burch (August 17, 1896 – July 28, 1969), more commonly referred to as simply John Burch, was an American film assistant director, producer,[1] and production manager during the latter part of the silent era right through the 1950s.

John E. Burch
Born(1896-08-17)August 17, 1896
Chicago, Illinois United States
DiedJuly 28, 1969(1969-07-28) (aged 72)
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
OccupationAssistant director, production manager, producer
Years active1925–58

Early life

Burch was born on August 17, 1896 in Chicago, Illinois to John Sebastian Burch and Mary Ann Pettit. Upon the United States' entry into World War One, Burch enlisted in the Navy, where he served aboard a submarine. At some point after the war, he moved from Chicago to Los Angeles, in an attempt to break into the film industry.[2]


Burch's first foray into the cinematic world was as an actor in 1925's White Fang, adapted by Jane Murfin from the novel of the same name by Jack London.[3] This would be his only on-screen appearance.[4] The following year, as the assistant director on The Arizona Streak (1926),[5] would see him begin a long career behind the camera as an assistant director, production manager and supervisor. The remainder of the 1920s would see him continue in the role of assistant director, as well as prop manager.[2][4]

In 1931 Burch was credited as supervisor on Fanny Foley Herself. It was only the second film shot in the new Technicolor process.[6][7] Over the course of his career, Burch would be involved in over 65 films.[4] Some of the more notable films he worked on include: Li'l Abner (1940), where he was an assistant director for Albert S. Rogell;[8] 1942's A Guy Named Joe, starring Spencer Tracy and Irene Dunne, on which he would be one of Victor Fleming's assistant directors;[9] and Brewster's Millions (1945), starring Dennis O'Keefe, and directed by Allen Dwan, assisted by Burch.[10] In 1936, Burch would be one of the founding members of the Director's Guild of America. His final work in film would be on 1958's Thunder Road, starring Robert Mitchum, on which he worked as the production manager.[11] After leaving the film industry, Burch would work for a short time in television, doing a few episodes for shows like The Untouchables, before working steadily as an assistant director on Bonanza from 1960-62.

Burch died from pneumonia on July 28, 1969, in Honolulu, Hawaii.


(as per AFI's database)[4]

Year Title Role Notes
1925 White Fang Cast-Bill Morry
1926 The Arizona Streak Assistant director
1926 The Cowboy Cop Assistant director
1926 Flaming Fury Assistant director
1926 Flashing Fangs Assistant director
1926 The Masquerade Bandit Assistant director
1926 Out of the West Assistant director
1926 Wild To Go Assistant director
1929 Gun Law Assistant director
1929 Pals of the Prairie Assistant director
1929 The Pride of Pawnee Assistant director
1929 The Trail of the Horse Thieves Assistant director
1931 The Perfect Alibi Assistant director
1931 Fanny Foley Herself Production supervisor
1931 Peach O'Reno Production supervisor
1932 Bird of Paradise Production supervisor
1935 Hi, Gaucho! Production supervisor
1936 Two in Revolt Production supervisor
1936 Chatterbox Production supervisor
1936 The Farmer in the Dell Production supervisor
1937 The Crime Nobody Saw Assistant director
1937 Artists and Models Assistant director
1937 King of Gamblers Assistant director
1937 Murder Goes to College Assistant director
1938 The Duke of West Point Production manager
1939 Fast and Furious Assistant director
1940 Kit Carson Assistant director
1940 Li'l Abner Assistant director
1940 Florian Assistant director
1940 South of Pago Pago Assistant director
1941 Miss Polly Assistant director
1941 Scattergood Baines Assistant director
1941 Scattergood Pulls the Strings Assistant director
1941 Tanks a Million Assistant director
1941 Double Cross Production manager
1942 Here We Go Again Assistant director
1942 The Moon and Sixpence Assistant director
1942 Scattergood Rides High Assistant director
1943 Cinderella Swings It Assistant director
1943 A Stranger in Town Assistant director
1943 Two Weeks to Live Unit manager
1944 A Guy Named Joe Assistant director
1944 Goin' to Town Assistant director
1944 Three Is a Family Assistant director
1944 Abroad with Two Yanks Assistant director
1944 Andy Hardy's Blonde Trouble Assistant director
1944 Since You Went Away Unit manager
1945 Brewster's Millions Assistant director
1946 Sister Kenny Unit manager
1947 Honeymoon Production manager
1950 Armored Car Robbery Production manager
1950 Bunco Squad Production manager
1950 Never a Dull Moment Production manager
1952 On Dangerous Ground Assistant production manager
1953 Second Chance Assistant production manager
1955 A Life in the Balance Assistant director, production manager
1955 Pearl of the South Pacific Production supervisor
1955 The Treasure of Pancho Villa Unit manager
1955 Not As a Stranger Production manager
1956 Bandido Production supervisor
1956 Great Day in the Morning Unit manager
1957 The Careless Years Assistant director
1957 Spring Reunion Assistant director
1957 Jet Pilot Assistant production manager
1958 Thunder Road Production manager


  1. Wilk, Ralph (June 10, 1931). "Hollywood Flashes". The Film Daily. p. 7.
  2. "John E. Burch". Lucky-Movies. Archived from the original on January 28, 2015. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  3. "White Fang". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on April 2, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  4. "John Burch". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  5. "The Arizona Streak". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on March 29, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  6. "Fanny Foley Herself". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on April 3, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  7. Los Angeles Times. September 13, 1931. p. B13. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. "Li'l Abner". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  9. "A Guy Named Joe". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on January 13, 2015. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  10. "Brewster's Millions". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on March 29, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  11. "Thunder Road". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
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