Raoul Walsh

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Scharphedin2
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#1 Post by Scharphedin2 » Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:13 pm

Raoul Walsh (1887-1980)

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There’d be a desert picture, there’d be a biblical
sort of thing, then there’d be a Western, then a railroad
story, then a sea story. That’s how they rotated.
Sometimes you would pick something and you’d go to
the office and say this looks pretty good. But most of
the time they would throw a script on your lawn like
they do the
Examiner. You just picked it up, read
it, and went to work.



Filmography

Life of Villa (short, 1912)

The Pseudo Prodigal (short, 1913)

The Bowery (short, 1914)

The Double Knot (short, 1914)

The Mystery of the Hindu Image (short, 1914)

Out of the Deputy's Hands(short, 1914)

Who Shot Bud Walton? (short, 1914)

Siren of Hell (short, 1915)

The Lone Cowboy (short, 1915)

Home from the Sea (short, 1915)

The Buried Hand (short, 1915)

The Death Dice (short, 1915)

The Fatal Black Bean (short, 1915)

His Return (short, 1915)

The Greaser (short, 1915)

The Fencing Master (short, 1915)

A Man for All That (short, 1915)

The Comeback(short, 1915)

The Smuggler (short, 1915)

11:30 P.M. (short, 1915)

The Celestial Code (short, 1915)

A Bad Man and Others (short, 1915)

Regeneration (1915) Image Entertainment (R1)

Peer Gynt (1915)

Carmen (1915)

The Serpent (1916)

Blue Blood and Red (1916)

Pillars of Society (1916)

This Is the Life (1917)

The Honor System (1917)

The Silent Lie (1917)

The Innocent Sinner (1917)

Betrayed (1917)

The Conqueror (1917)

The Pride of New York (1917)

The Woman and the Law (1918)

On the Jump (1918)

The Prussian Cur (1918)

Every Mother's Son (1918)

I'll Say So (1918)

Evangeline (1919) Milestone (R1)

Should a Husband Forgive? (1919)

The Strongest (1920)

The Deep Purple (1920)

From Now On (1920)

The Oath (1921)

Serenade (1921)

Kindred of the Dust (1922)

Lost and Found on a South Sea Island (1923)

The Thief of Bagdad (1924) Kino (R1) -- also available as part of the Douglas Fairbanks Collection / Image Entertainment (R1) / Alpha (R1) / Gaumont (R2 FR)

East of Suez (1925)

The Spaniard (1925)

The Wanderer (1925)

The Lucky Lady (1926)

The Lady of the Harem (1926)

What Price Glory (1926)

The Monkey Talks (1927)

The Loves of Carmen (1927)

Sadie Thompson (1928) Kino (R1)

The Red Dance (1928)

Me, Gangster (1928)

The Cock-Eyed World (1929)

Hot for Paris (1929)

The Big Trail (1930) 20th Century Fox (R1 & R2 UK)

The Man Who Came Back (1931)

La Gran jornada (1931)

Die Grosse Fahrt (1931)

Women of All Nations (1931)

The Yellow Ticket (1931)

Wild Girl (1932)

Me and My Gal (1932)

Sailor's Luck (1933)

Hello, Sister (1933)

The Bowery (1933)

Going Hollywood (1933)

Under Pressure (1935)

Baby Face Harrington (1935)

Every Night at Eight (1935)

Klondike Annie (1936) Image Entertainment (R1) / 4 Front Video (R2 UK) -- as part of Mae West: Screen Goddess Collection

Big Brown Eyes (1936) Universal (R1) -- as part of Cary Grant: Screen Legend Collection

Spendthrift (1936)

O.H.M.S. (1937) Magna Pacific (R4 Australia)

Jump for Glory (1937)

Artists & Models (1937)

Hitting a New High (1937) Editions Montparnasse (R2 FR)

College Swing (1938) Universal (R1) -- double feature with Mitchell Leisen’s Big Broadcast of 1938

St. Louis Blues (1939)

The Roaring Twenties (1939) Warner Brothers (R1) – also as part of Warner Gangster Collection / Warner Brothers (R2 UK)

Dark Command (1940) Lion's Gate (R1) -- as double feature with A Lady Takes a Chance / Artisan (R1)

They Drive by Night (1940) Warner Brothers (R1)

High Sierra (1941) Warner Brothers (R1)

The Strawberry Blonde (1941)

Manpower (1941)

They Died with Their Boots On (1941) Warner Brothers (R1) -- also as part of Errol Flynn: The Signature Collection, Vol. 1

Desperate Journey (1942)

Gentleman Jim (1942) Warner Brothers (R1) -- also as part of Errol Flynn: The Signature Collection, Vol. 2

Background to Danger (1943)

Northern Pursuit (1943)

Uncertain Glory (1944)

Objective, Burma! (1945) Warner Brothers (R1)

The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945)

Salty O'Rourke (1945)

The Man I Love (1947)

Pursued (1947) Artisan (R1)

Cheyenne (1947)

Silver River (1948) Warner Brothers (R2 FR)

Fighter Squadron (1948)

One Sunday Afternoon (1948)

Colorado Territory (1949)

White Heat (1949) Warner Brothers (R1) -- also as part of Warner Gangster Collection / Warner Brothers (R2 UK)

Captain Horatio Hornblower(1951) Warner Brothers (R1) -- also as part of Literary Classics Collection

Along the Great Divide (1951) Warner Brothers (R2 FR)

Distant Drums (1951) Artisan (R1) / DVDGo Exclusive (R2 ES)

Glory Alley (1952)

The World in His Arms (1952) Universal (R1) – as part of The Gregory Peck Film Collection / Sherlock Home Video (R2 ES)

Blackbeard, the Pirate (1952) Editions Montparnasse (R2 FR) / Manga Films (R2 ES)

The Lawless Breed (1953) Universal (R1) -- as part of Classic Western Round-Up, Vol. 1 (tbr May 8th, 2007)

Sea Devils (1953) Optimum Releasing (R2 UK)

A Lion Is in the Streets (1953)

Gun Fury (1953) Sony (R1)

Saskatchewan (1954)

Battle Cry (1955) Warner Brothers (R1)

The Tall Men (1955) 20th Century Fox (R1) -- also as part of Clark Gable Collection / Gaumont (R2 FR) / Cinema Club (R2 UK)

The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956)

The King and Four Queens (1956) Sogemedia (R2 ES)

Band of Angels (1957) Warner Brothers (R1)

The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958) 20th Century Fox (R1) -- also as part of Jayne Mansfield Collection.

The Naked and the Dead (1958)

A Private's Affair (1959)

Esther and the King (1960) Diamond Ent. Corp. (R1)

Marines, Let's Go (1961)

A Distant Trumpet (1964) Warner Brothers (R2 FR)


Forum Resources

The Big Trail

The Naked and the Dead (Raoul Walsh, 1958)

Raoul Walsh

Regeneration (Walsh, 1915)

Additional Walsh discussion can be found scattered throughout The Lists Project thread.


Web Resources

Bright Lights Film Journal -- Article on The Bowery

Classic Film and Television

Film Forno – Article on White Heat by Joe D (October 15th, 2007)

Film Reference

Fred Camper – Fred Camper’s review of The Big Trail (originally published in The Chicago Reader, June 17th, 1988)

The Greatest Films – Article on White Heat

New York: The Sun – Article “Turner Classic Movies Rescues Raoul Walsh” by Allen Barra (June 17, 2008)

Senses of Cinema by Tag Gallagher

Twenty Four Frames – Article on The Roaring Twenties


Books

Each Man In His Own Time by Raoul Walsh (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1974)

Who The Devil Made It by Peter Bogdanovich (Ballantine, 1997) -- includes 40 page interview with Raoul Walsh

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zedz
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#2 Post by zedz » Thu Oct 26, 2006 8:37 pm

After the 1930s list results came through there was some grumbling (mostly from me) about how Raoul Walsh had been overlooked, so I thought he deserved his own discussion thread, if only to get people primed for the 1940s list.

I must confess to only having a shaky grasp on Walsh's vast career. For me, his style so epitomises ‘classical' Hollywood filmmaking, and his films tend to be so narratively persuasive and entertaining that it takes some effort to see through to their distinctive traits. For a long time, Ford posed a similar problem: everything about the films seemed to be so ‘right', and so undemonstrative, that it was hard for me to quantify his stylistic personality.

Anyway, I'm making an effort to catch up with Walsh's 40s output, and was recently blown away by his noir western Pursued. The available disc, from Artisan, is a mixed blessing. It's a very weak transfer of what looks like a spectacularly beautiful restoration – what a missed opportunity! Nevertheless, the beauty and power of the film shines through the digital murk.

The storytelling is supple and compelling. We begin in media res, then flash way back, and for the first quarter hour or so, the film comes together like a jigsaw puzzle, and the film retains aspects of its recovered-memory puzzle structure right up until the final scene. Mitchum is an ill-omened Lang figure in the brutal, Shakespearean west of Anthony Mann.

In some respects the film is a dream collaboration. Max Steiner delivers an excellent, mood-enhancing score. If only Ford's films could be relied on to make such subtle use of traditional melodies.

James Wong Howe is the cinematographer, and this must be among his moodiest and most beautifully modulated works (which should set off some kind of Pavlovian salivation reflex if you haven't seen the film). The noir shadows are imaginatively cast – there's a gorgeous shot where Mitchum and Wright are facing each other in the dark, in profile, with different halves of their faces illuminated – and he even creates suggestive patterns of light and dark in daylight scenes (by using black uniforms to darken the screen, for example, or throwing shadows with landscape). If you're not paying careful attention, the smooth, understated camera movements might seem to be entirely functional, with the frame simply following action, but within this ‘cloak of invisibility' there are expressive variants, such as brief, shallow tracks in on characters to punctuate a reaction, or searching reframings to better display just the right detail.

There's a bravura use of landscape as well, but that seems to me to be a particularly Walshian characteristic. In The Big Trail, he brilliantly staged action on multiple planes, and this technique is also used in key scenes of Pursued, most notably in the showdown between the brothers, but also more casually and intimately, and Howe brings some effortless deep-focus to the party.

A theme I'm interested in exploring as I see more of Walsh's work is his psychological use of landscape (a rather clumsy phrase for something that's hard to express). Pursued is a film in which almost every human action is psychologically charged, and this is played out in larger physical terms as well. Jed's physical journeys (to the old homestead, to the new homestead) are psychic journeys as well: every time he goes back to a previous home he is trying to retrieve an aspect of his past, sometimes a specific memory, sometimes a specific person. The dramatic, unforgiving landscapes, which dwarf human figures, become a part of the human drama. The film is Shakespearean in scope (individual psychopathology expressed as tragic, dynastic destruction), and the vast arid plains and precipitous cliff faces are two parts Lear's heath to one part Elsinore's walls. There's even a momentary, sit-bolt-upright apparition in the opening scene: a truly special effect that sets the scene for the paranoia and gloom that will follow. I also see this ‘psychological' use of landscape in High Sierra's rock, and there's a similar resonance to the comings and goings of that film that goes deeper than simply moving characters about for the needs of the plot. In these films people don't just travel somewhere, they end up there, trapped by geography but also trapped by history, fate, and the choices they've made. Of course, if you figure industrial landscape into this equation, the climax of White Heat slots in very nicely alongside High Sierra.

Walsh also seems to be particularly skilled at providing the ideal frame for his actors. I don't think Cagney was ever better than he was in The Roaring Twenties – unless it was in White Heat – and in my opinion he was also the director who found the great screen actor in Humphrey Bogart. Just look at the development in three years from The Roaring Twenties, through They Drive by Night to High Sierra. And in that last pair Walsh is also simultaneously discovering Ida Lupino! All of these films are powerhouses of great screen acting, but there's no greandstanding involved: it's all located within a controlled, coherent, directed vision of the total film.

In Pursued, he taps into the melancholy fatalism of Robert Mitchum that animates the same year's Out of the Past – I'm not sure who beat whom to the punch in this case, and I'm not familiar enough with Mitchum's previous work to know if this counted as a new discovery. The film also provides a great opportunity for Judith Anderson to show off her range. Mrs Danvers was a great role, but it was also a “how toâ€

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#3 Post by bufordsharkley » Fri Oct 27, 2006 12:42 am

Walsh's strength was an amazing storytelling ability. In his masterworks (Thief of Bagdad, The Roaring Twenties, High Sierra, White Heat, among others,) there seems to be a hard-to-define narrative glue, pulling it along.

Walsh identified himself foremost as a studio director, and really embodied the best things that the studio system had to offer.

I read a tremendous interview with Walsh from 1965 or so in a book a few months back-- he comes off as superlatively engaging and unpretentious, just like his movies.

EDIT-- The interview was from FILM CRAZY, by Patrick McMilligan, and was actually from 1975. I haven't read the other interviews in the book, (he sat with Rene Clair, Wellman, Ida Lupino, George Stevens, Hitchcock...) but it's worth rooting out for the Walsh interview alone.
Last edited by bufordsharkley on Fri Oct 27, 2006 6:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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tryavna
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#4 Post by tryavna » Fri Oct 27, 2006 10:02 am

bufordsharkley wrote:Walsh's strength was an amazing storytelling ability. In his masterworks (Thief of Bagdad, The Roaring Twenties, High Sierra, White Heat, among others,) there seems to be a hard-to-define narrative glue, pulling it along.
I agree. In particular, I think it's Walsh complete lack of pretension that makes his movies so enjoyable. They also move -- both in terms of how quick Walsh's pacing is and in the fact that Walsh moves his camera more than most of the other great no-nonsense action directors of the 1930s and 40s (Hawks, Wellman, etc.).

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zedz
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#5 Post by zedz » Sun Jan 07, 2007 11:10 pm

Pumping some more life into this thread. I've recently watched / rewatched three 40s Walshes: They Drive by Night, High Sierra and Objective, Burma, and they've helped me get a better grasp on Walsh's directorial personality.

The characteristics I'm finding most distinctive about his work are his handling of character and performance and his treatment of space.

Character / Performance: It can't be a coincidence that so many actors did career-best work in Walsh's films, and, more to the point, actors seem to be finding themselves in his films. Bogart had done decent work beforehand (some of his best with Walsh in The Roaring Twenties and They Drive by Night), but High Sierra is surely his first signature role. Although technically a villain (if the film has a hero, it's Ida Lupino), it's only a short step from this performance to Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon. And Ida gives a beautifully layered performance in the film. She's a blast in They Drive by Night, but her work here is far richer, and, again, these two consecutive roles seem to go a long way towards defining her screen persona.

You also have to pay attention to the supporting roles. I don't know if Ann Sheridan was ever better than in They Drive by Night. She has almost nothing to do, but she does it with such attitude. In High Sierra, it's Henry Travers and Joan Leslie that surprise me. Their subplot could be the worst kind of saccharine contrivance (too-good-to-be-true Okies find their miracle cure), but Travers gives it heart (making it clear that Roy Earle isn't looking for a wife so much as he's looking for a father) and Leslie twists it completely inside out when she turns out to be an ungrateful bitch. I'd just seen her cloying performance in Sergeant York and was thrilled when she pulled out her claws (and, frankly, who could blame her). Throughout, the film is bracingly unsentimental (even the cute dog does turn out to be a poison pup after all), and this scene sounds its sour note in the nick of time.

I'd also be interested in exploring the extent to which Walsh treats the family as a volatile and treacherous unit in several of his films. This is certainly the case in Pursued and White Heat. It's an idea that's represented in the subplot of High Sierra (and also in Ida's violent relationship with her boyfriend), and refracted throughout They Drive by Night (Lupino's really bad marriage; Bogart's frustrated one; the physical peril of Raft and Bogart's brotherly pursuit). The only glimpse of family life we get in Objective, Burma is the illusory reverie of a soldier just before he is brutally tortured and left for dead. So has this just been the luck of draw? Are there rock-solid John Ford fortress families throughout the rest of Walsh's work, which I've just happened to miss?

Space: Walsh has great pacing, and a casual mastery of deft, unobtrusive camera movements, but what is increasingly defining his cinema for me is his mastery of three-dimensional space (was it his own lack of depth-perception that allowed him to translate three-dimensional spaces to the flat screen with such precision?). This is characterised by three interrelated characteristics: a brilliant use of landscape (often to reflect characters' states of mind); composition in depth; staging of action on multiple planes.

Watching these three films, it also occurs to me that Walsh tends to reserve his most impressive orchestration of depth effects for narrative high-points (that dead-eye storytelling instinct, I guess). Crucial scenes in High Sierra, Objective, Burma and Pursued are all blocked in similar ways: a foreground figure to one side of the screen impinges on the world of a (pretty much ant-sized) figure or figures in the extreme background. In High Sierra and Pursued, it's a rifle shot, but in both cases this very personal encounter is staged in a manner film normally reserves for impersonal battle scenes (foreground protagonist, distant antagonist). Walsh stages his showdowns in extreme depth, where the figure at the centre of the frame is so small that we cannot see his face. In Objective, Burma, this set-up is used when our heroes are spied by a Japanese officer on the crest of a hill. Although the three scenes share similar characteristics, they all utilise a different perspective (precipitously down in High Sierra, famed by rock; upward in Objective, Burma, framed by sky; parallel and somewhat level in Pursued – one figure is higher than the other, but there's not the sense of either figure being on top of or underneath the other as in the other scenes).

Walsh seems to be interested in testing audience identification in different ways in his films. The Roaring Twenties, High Sierra and White Heat are obvious examples, making flawed, empathetic figures of their murderous protagonists; the deployment of Leslie and Lupino in High Sierra shows another approach – a kind of mutual bait-and-switch of audience sympathy. Staging key scenes (in the case of High Sierra, the climax of the entire film) with the protagonist in long shot could also be considered part of such a strategy.

He also demonstrates commanding three-dimensional staging on a less epic scale at other key moments. The turning point of High Sierra comes when Bogart finds himself unable to master an increasingly complex three-dimensional space (the hotel lobby). This is one of those moments when the clarity of Walsh's blocking and presentation is absolutely crucial: in order to see where the scene is heading, we also need to be mentally keeping track of the spatial relationships of the multiplying characters, and so the mise-en-scene very subtly puts us into the mindset of Roy Earle.

We reap similar dividends in the village shoot-out of Objective, Burma: Walsh clearly defines different spaces / stages within the village and also establishes the spatial relationships between them, thus allowing himself to present a running battle with uncommon coherence. The film is pretty thin in terms of character and plot, so Walsh's main focus seems to be on staging a series of action or suspense set pieces. These are gloriously visual – it's very rare that anything has to be explained in dialogue (which is a relief – it's much more effective when people hiding in the grass are sensibly silent rather than stage-whispering the plot to one another), and afford lots of examples of Walsh's staging of action on multiple planes (soldiers hiding in the foreground while a line of enemy soldiers pass by in the background; soldiers looking down on the enemy encampment).

Then, at the end of the film, he stages the climactic confrontation in the dark, without any of these techniques to fall back on. The effect, after setting up the film's spaces so carefully for a couple of hours (including this one – we're given a good account of its strategic strengths and weaknesses), is as disorienting for us as it is for the soldiers, and the attack unfolds in darkened closeups of the isolated soldiers' faces (another aspect of the disorientation: the action sequences so far have all been about mass movements of men in groups). Again, Walsh is subtly putting the audience in the place of his protagonists – isolated, without enough visual information to understand their environment correctly. The scene builds to its climax in this air of confusion, then unleashes one of Walsh's great depth effects: a flare goes up, revealing the exact spatial relationship between the enemy forces.

Another element of Walsh's visual style I'd like to note is his relationship with technology. In his films, there's a clear love of gadgetry: the electric eye beam in They Drive by Night, for example, or the gliders in Objective, Burma. In High Sierra we see it in the delightful (and delightfully superfluous) gem of montage that shows us Algernon's fish-catching mechanism. There's also a craftsman's appreciation of film tricks (as opposed to a showman's self-conscious pleasure in them, as one sees in Welles). When Walsh employs some unusual technique, it's always in the service of his storytelling, and sometimes it's so seamless as to be almost invisible. In High Sierra there's a superb transition early in the film in which a track in to a newspaper front page at the end of one scene merges with a track out of a different copy of the same newspaper, taking us to the next scene. The Roaring Twenties is stitched together by all those glorious, breathless historical montages, some of Vorkapich audacity, and Pursued has those rhythmic, flashing spurs. In Objective, Burma, Walsh's pleasure in simple gadgetry merges with his pleasure in unobtrusive camera tricks and his way of surreptitiously placing the viewer inside the world of the story when Errol Flynn signals to the plane by flashing a mirror simultaneously at the pilot, at the camera and at us.

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Michael Kerpan
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#6 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Jan 07, 2007 11:59 pm

Just saw "They Drive By Night" -- and enjoyed it thoroughly. Though I am now a bit nervous about paying off the loan on my car anytime soon -- as doing so seems to cause grave consequences.... ;~}

High Sierra is on tap for later this week.

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#7 Post by Antoine Doinel » Wed May 09, 2007 3:09 am

I watched White Heat tonight and the thing that struck me most about the film was Walsh's ability to blend three genre elements - gangster pic, police procedural and prison pic - into one cohesive, larger whole. Walsh knows his way around genre conventions so well and is so comfortable within their framework, he is able to transcend them with ease. Sure Cagney's performance is great, but I don't think the film would've held up as well had not the overall picture been as strong at it is.

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#8 Post by PhilipS » Wed May 09, 2007 4:07 am

Antoine Doinel wrote:I watched White Heat tonight and the thing that struck me most about the film was Walsh's ability to blend three genre elements - gangster pic, police procedural and prison pic - into one cohesive, larger whole. Walsh knows his way around genre conventions so well and is so comfortable within their framework, he is able to transcend them with ease. Sure Cagney's performance is great, but I don't think the film would've held up as well had not the overall picture been as strong at it is.
So what you are saying is that this is entirely a result of Walsh's visual style and his direction of the actors, and no credit is due to the screenplay of Goff and Roberts, nor to the source novel?

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#9 Post by Antoine Doinel » Wed May 09, 2007 9:20 am

PhilipS wrote:So what you are saying is that this is entirely a result of Walsh's visual style and his direction of the actors, and no credit is due to the screenplay of Goff and Roberts, nor to the source novel?
Yeah, I might say that. The script is okay, but let's face it, the characters are largely one-dimensional and the story arc is as familiar as gangster pics themselves. The best part of the script - and the one facet of it that Walsh really used to his advantage - was the disparate genre elements which in lesser hands I feel would've come off far more awkwardly.

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#10 Post by vivahawks » Thu May 10, 2007 12:59 pm

Hi, I've been lurking around here for a while just reading everyone else's posts, but I guess Raoul Walsh has flushed me out in the open. I agree that White Heat works mostly because of Walsh's interest in blending genre tropes together, and I think that's characteristic of most of his other films as well. He does the same thing in Roaring Twenties, while High Sierra is one of the first films to directly link the gangster and western genres (which becomes even clearer in Walsh's remake of Sierra as a western, Colorado Territory). They Drive by Night and The Bowery bring together so many disparate tones and elements that they are nearly indefinable, and The Strawberry Blonde brings together the musical, romantic comedy, and period drama and makes something quite unique of them. No other classical director was as inquisitive about genre conventions as Walsh, except perhaps for Hawks and his very different approach to the same issue.

Incidentally I haven't seen much mention of Strawberry Blonde here, though I think it's Walsh's greatest film along with Roaring Twenties and boasts one of Cagney's very best performances. Anyone have any thoughts on it?

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zedz
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#11 Post by zedz » Thu May 10, 2007 4:56 pm

vivahawks wrote:Incidentally I haven't seen much mention of Strawberry Blonde here, though I think it's Walsh's greatest film along with Roaring Twenties and boasts one of Cagney's very best performances. Anyone have any thoughts on it?
Only that I'd love to see it. An auspicious first post - welcome aboard!

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#12 Post by vivahawks » Fri May 11, 2007 11:24 am

Thanks zedz. I wonder if anyone is familiar with Walsh's silent films? I'm waiting to see Regeneration and Sadie Thompson, but I've only seen Thief of Bagdad. I wasn't very impressed with Thief, though that might have been because I was discovering so many brilliant silents at the time (I think I watched it in between a couple of von Stroheims). Are there others I should watch out for? Silent Walsh seems to be a no-man's land in most reference materials.

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zedz
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#13 Post by zedz » Fri May 11, 2007 10:24 pm

vivahawks wrote:Thanks zedz. I wonder if anyone is familiar with Walsh's silent films? I'm waiting to see Regeneration and Sadie Thompson, but I've only seen Thief of Bagdad. I wasn't very impressed with Thief, though that might have been because I was discovering so many brilliant silents at the time (I think I watched it in between a couple of von Stroheims). Are there others I should watch out for? Silent Walsh seems to be a no-man's land in most reference materials.
I'm no great fan of Thief either, but that's a whole genre I don't have much sympathy for. Sadie's in my to-watch pile, but Regeneration is terrific. I think he's even ahead of his master Griffith at this early stage. Also early-ish, available (though not in widescreen) and terrific is The Big Trail, a spectacular open-air early sound western.

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#14 Post by Forrest Taft » Fri Jan 18, 2008 11:50 am

After some recommendations here I finally checked out some of the films by Raoul Walsh. I bought The Bogart Signature Collection (including High Sierra and They Drive by Night) and the Cagney Signature Collection (including The Roaring Twenties and White Heat). I also bought the UK release og The Big Trail only to discover that the version I bought was only 104 minutes long. Can anyone here tell me how it differs from the longer version? I´m already a huge Walsh fan, so some other recommendations would also be welcome...

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Danny Burk
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#15 Post by Danny Burk » Fri Jan 18, 2008 7:36 pm

SADIE THOMPSON is terrific - you guys should watch it ASAP. Swanson's best film other than SUNSET B. Nice to see RW as an actor too. It's tragic that the last reel is lost, but at least it's drawn to a close satisfactorily by stills, title cards, and a few clips from the '32 RAIN. I like THIEF more for the sets and costuming than for the plot; it's long and drawn out, and the 1940 version is a better all-around film by far.

Hard to see, but LOVES OF CARMEN is quite good; I haven't seen WHAT PRICE GLORY or THE LUCKY LADY in so long that I scarcely remember them, but IIRC WPG is quite good, whereas LUCKY LADY is nothing to write home about. The Walsh silent that I really want to see is RED DANCE; the clip in HOLLYWOOD is visually very striking.

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#16 Post by Belmondo » Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:59 pm

I love Walsh and appreciated the analysis of OBJECTIVE BURMA a few posts back. This is an unusually fine war film which got hit hard in its original release by critics who noted (correctly) that the war in Burma was a largely British affair and what the hell was Flynn doing there with an American platoon?
What Flynn was doing was giving us one of his very best and most restrained performances, and what Walsh was doing was showing us an unusually accurate portrait of soldiers carrying on as best they can when things go wrong after the mission is accomplished.
Honesty compels me to mention that the plot has a big weakness - the mission is to destroy a Japanese radar station; but the Japanese did little with radar during the war, and the middle of the Burmese jungle would be the last place radar was needed.

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zedz
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#17 Post by zedz » Sat Jan 19, 2008 2:06 am

RobertAltman wrote:I´m already a huge Walsh fan, so some other recommendations would also be welcome...
Pursued Pursued Pursued. The available disc is nothing to write home about, but the film is essential.

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Steven H
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#18 Post by Steven H » Sat Jan 19, 2008 2:29 am

zedz wrote:
RobertAltman wrote:I´m already a huge Walsh fan, so some other recommendations would also be welcome...
Pursued Pursued Pursued. The available disc is nothing to write home about, but the film is essential.
Seconded! Pursued was the big 40s western surprise for me.

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Forrest Taft
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#19 Post by Forrest Taft » Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:58 pm

According to thedigitalbits Fox wil release The Big Trail: Fox Grandeur Special Edition in May. Can we expect this edition to include the cinemascope version? I would love to see it...

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domino harvey
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#20 Post by domino harvey » Thu Feb 28, 2008 2:01 pm

RobertAltman wrote:According to thedigitalbits Fox wil release The Big Trail: Fox Grandeur Special Edition in May. Can we expect this edition to include the cinemascope version? I would love to see it...
Psst

Jack Phillips
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#21 Post by Jack Phillips » Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:10 pm

Belmondo wrote:Honesty compels me to mention that the plot has a big weakness - the mission is to destroy a Japanese radar station; but the Japanese did little with radar during the war, and the middle of the Burmese jungle would be the last place radar was needed.
I don't doubt it, but this is precisely why the term macguffin was coined.

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Scharphedin2
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#22 Post by Scharphedin2 » Sun Sep 21, 2008 4:52 am

Since originally creating this thread, several new threads on Walsh’s films have appeared in the forum, and a handful of new DVDs have been released (notably in France). I have now included these in the thread, added a few new links to articles on the internet, and given the thread a general facelift.

Zedz has already written excellently about a number of Walsh’s films, and analyzed thematic and stylistic currents in the director’s work, so I recommend to look these up in the “‘30s list” and “defend your pandas” threads, as well as in the Raoul Walsh thread in the “Old Films” section of the forum.

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zedz
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Re: Raoul Walsh

#23 Post by zedz » Wed Nov 19, 2008 7:06 pm

The Yellow Ticket

I recently saw this early sound film from Walsh. It’s an interesting pre-Code (or, more correctly, pre-Code-enforcement) film that deals overtly with anti-Semitism and (a little more coyly) with prostitution, and it shows just how much a good director could do with a mediocre script.

The story is overripe, to say the least. In pre-revolutionary Russia, Marya, a nice Jewish girl, acquires a ‘yellow ticket’ (prostitute’s licence) in order to be able to travel to see her dying father and finds herself trapped in her new identity (while nevertheless remaining perfectly virginal – this is Hollywood, after all). She comes to the attention to self-identified despot (you have to swallow an awful lot of Hollywoodisms to get through this film!) Baron Andreyev and peppy English journalist Julian Rolfe, and manages to elude the former and elope with the latter in a hairsbreadth escape.

All of this action hinges on heavy dramatic ironies and unlikely plot conveniences, but Walsh consistently adds more nuance than the script demands, and the two male leads (Lionel Barrymore and Laurence Olivier) are particularly good at shading in their cookie-cutter characters. A good example is the scene in which Andreyev recognises Marya (now Julian’s secretary) as the ‘yellow ticketed’ strumpet he’d previously ogled. This scene is written in the most perfunctory manner – the pair are conveniently left alone at a restaurant table while the floor show performs a skit that perfectly recaps their first encounter, concluding with a hackneyed “aha! Now I know where I’ve seen you before!” moment – but it’s played much more slyly, Andreyev’s dawning realisation and Marya’s grim realisation of his realisation played out through subtle looks and body language captured from a distance. The ‘revelation’ is dispensed with matter-of-factly and the rest of the scene becomes more about how Andreyev chooses to play with the situation.

There are other instances where Walsh manages to add interesting nuance to howlers of plot developments. At one point Andreyev locks Marya in a room that contains a cabinet full of his ‘trophies’ of past assassination attempts, including a pistol and bullets. Well, duh! But Walsh, perhaps embarrassed by the obviousness of this contrivance, adds a smart, brief shot of Marya loading the gun, but only finding bullets of the wrong gauge.

The film includes many fine examples of Walsh staging his scenes in depth – a key one involves Marya overhearing Andreyev from a window across a courtyard – and there are some extremely Expressionist-tinged sequences. A series of shots that records the grinding routine of the men’s prison has the same choreographed mass movement of Metropolis, but it centres around a stunning overhead shot of endless streams of men marching down a spiral staircase into a hellish pit that is far more haunting and powerful than anything in that film. There’s also a highly abstracted sequence set in a brothel that’s presented through a refracted, kaleidoscopic lens (the stylistic essence of debauchery in place of the real thing).

Although Walsh’s staging is consistently inventive (his camera moves in almost every shot that isn’t a close up, although the movement is often unobtrusive), the straitjacket script forces him to forego a lot of great opportunities. The denouement is the worst offender, as Julian and Marya race to elude their pursuers. Walsh establishes a magnificent street scene – war has just been declared and the chaos provides the cover the couple needs to escape – but doesn’t get to make the most of the intrinsic suspense of this set piece – the crowds that provide cover also impede progress, but they could also be impeding the progress of the pursuers – and instead the series of narrow escapes is narrated rather than shown (i.e. a series of “oh, they’ve just left” moments). It makes for a really rote conclusion, Marya heading for marital bliss in a free country with not a thought to the presumed repercussions for the family she’s left behind.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: Raoul Walsh

#24 Post by HerrSchreck » Wed Nov 19, 2008 7:42 pm

I'd kill to know what Walsh's 1914 film The Bowery consisted of... i e in any way related to his cutesy ball a wax from 1933 (which features Fay Wray without Lionel Atwill)? It's actually a hell of a fun movie, watching the interplay of little Jackie Coogan and giant Beery as they debate the finer points of dealing with women (or "skoits" as little Swipes--Coogan-- calls them in L.E.S. argot), chucking rocks thru shop windows, and being a man "on the downgrade". It reminds me weirdly of Dreigroschenoper, made around the same time, but completely devoid of Germanic Gloom.

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domino harvey
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Re: Raoul Walsh

#25 Post by domino harvey » Thu Nov 26, 2009 10:28 pm

Well, it was a total blind buy in that OOPing Amazon sale but wow, Band of Angels is amazing trash of the highest order. Refusing to indulge in the aesthetics of Gone With the Wind or wistfulness of many South-baiting plantation films of the studio period, this picture has such clarity of purpose in titillating white audiences with Soap Opera South histrionics that its success as pure entertainment is easily understood. From a heroine who is by my count almost raped at least three times in the film (including once with a five minute build-up that is among the most perverse ever depicted by a studio picture) to a male romantic lead who repeatedly tells startlingly graphic horror stories of his past life involving slicing heads and the like to the beautiful transition of an aspiring fire and brimstone preacher to a would-be rapist, this film is shameless in its freewheeling attempts to hold an audience's attention-- and thank God! Walsh is so over the map that I have no idea how to even begin to place this within his oeuvre, but this is such a well-made article of audience provocation that it deserves to be seen just to be believed.

PS: Was not sure which of the Raoul Walsh threads to post this in. Mods, this and the one in the Filmmakers forum should really be merged into one filmmaker thread w/Scharphedin2 retaining the first post...

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