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Raoul Walsh 9.11


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Walsh was one of the first directors of whom I became aware as well as fond. When A DISTANT TRUMPET came out when I was thirteen, it seemed incredible that a man who was in BIRTH OF A NATION could still be working fifty years later.

 

I didn't have much insight on exactly what a director did, other than hold a megaphone as depicted in movies, but I kept seeing Walsh's name appear when watching Cagney, Bogart and Flynn films. Only Michael Curtiz' name popped up as often on films which were personal favorites at the time.

 

I wish that TCM would air REGENERATION once again. This 1915 film is a direct precursor to his later crime dramas and deserves to be aired again on the Silent Sunday program where it last appeared about seven or eight years ago.

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Well, the commercial appeal of those earlier silents may not be as broad as his work from the sound era. But I agree, those films could and should be aired.

 

I was reading that Walsh was Errol Flynn's favorite director. Bogart enjoyed working with him, too. Meanwhile, Gable's favorite director was Clarence Brown.

 

One thing about a Raoul Walsh picture is that it's never boring...and in the case of WHITE HEAT, I never get tired of re-watching the story or the performances of the leads.

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Clore, I saw REGENERATION when TCM aired it a few years ago and loved it! I would agree, it would have been cool to see it again tonight! But overall, I'm totally digging and grooving on this evening's feature! As MFF mentioned, Walsh never disappoints and always an interesting and enjoyable flick! I'm especially looking forward to old faves, WHITE HEAT and HIGH SIERRA--in fact the more I think about HIGH SIERRA, the more I find that to be possibly my favorite of all Bogie flix--and I love a LOT of his flix!

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>>One thing about a Raoul Walsh picture is that it's never boring...and in the case of WHITE HEAT, I never get tired of re-watching the story or the performances of the leads.

 

MARINES, LET'S GO and THE SHERIFF OF FRACTURED JAW are pretty bad and I don't recall A PRIVATE'S AFFAIR as being of any note. However, that viewing was about 45 years ago.

 

While not too many seem high on them, I like the three films that Walsh made with Clark Gable in the 50s. Of the trio, THE KING AND FOUR QUEENS and BAND OF ANGELS work particularly well as films that use the Gable mystique to good advantage, especially the former which has him at his most charming of any of his post-war vehicles. Yes, he's a bit long in the tooth, but he's still Gable and he actually looks better here than in MOGAMBO.

 

I've probably seen WHITE HEAT more times than any other gangster film. This and HIGH SIERRA perfectly bookend the decade of the 40s. Whatever else he may have been, Roy Earle was sympathetic but there is no attempt to have us weep for Cody Jarrett. Even that he loves his mama is hardly a recommendation. It could be said that the nihilistic ending to WHITE HEAT killed the genre to some degree, the gangster became passe as a threat, we were in the nuclear age now.

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I like THE SHERIFF OF FRACTURED JAW because I think there's a lot of comedy in the culture clash that occurs with Mansfield and More, and it has those great Fox production values.

 

I agree about BAND OF ANGELS, and I really think it's a companion film to GONE WITH THE WIND. It's obvious that Gable was cast in that one based on the strength and lasting appeal of his portrayal of Rhett Butler. I am an especially big Yvonne DeCarlo fan. It's one of Warners best big budget period films from the 50s in my opinion. Sidney Poitier is also very good in a progressive (for the times) role.

 

I don't like MOGAMBO, I can't quite figure it out...maybe because I miss Harlow and Astor from the original too much, even though Kelly and Gardner are not weak substitutes.

 

WHITE HEAT is just a sensational picture. But of course, it relies a lot on the myths surrounding Ma Barker...which historians claim was mostly trumped up by Hoover to excuse the FBI's killing of her. I think if this picture were remade today, the story would have to be significantly rewritten and adjusted to fit a more accurate historical view of these characters. Nonetheless, Jimmy Cagney and Margaret Wycherly are fun to watch.

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I say this all the time, but WHITE HEAT and HIGH SIERRA are my favorite gangster films. They're incredibly well paced, with great writing and sensational characters. THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON is a fascinating adventure. OBJECTIVE BURMA just might be the best war film I know. But nobody's perfect. THE TALL MEN should be a lot shorter. HORATIO can blow his horn somewhere else. What are you gonna do?

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If anyone ever has the chance to read his Bio "Each Man in His Time", do yourself a favor and read it. If only 50% is true he led one hell of a life and turned out some of the greatest films ever made.

He's about the only director that remade a couple of his classic films and they turned out pretty damn good. "Colorado Territory" , a remake of his "High Sierra" is just as good if not a wee bit better with Joel McCrea and Vriginia Mayo in the leads and "Objective Burma" he turned into the Gary Cooper Western "Distant Drums" and while this one isn't up to the original, it's a pretty good western. Maybe he didn't hit it out of the park every time, but he is right up there with the Fords, Hawks,Wylers and the rest....

 

Edited by: fredbaetz on Sep 11, 2010 3:20 PM

 

Edited by: fredbaetz on Sep 11, 2010 3:22 PM

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Fred, I'll have to track that bio down, thanks!

 

I agree, COLORADO TERRITORY is awesome! And stands strong in it's own right, IMO! But HIGH SIERRA...wow...the more I see it, or think about it, the more I think it is such a GREAT film! One of my first intro's to Bogie, and to classic films outside of the horror and sci-fi genres...I'll never forget the first time I saw it, totally transfixed! And every re-viewing leads me to the same place. I'd say that's a GREAT film...or at least one that I truly LOVE!

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*If anyone ever has the chance to read his Bio "Each Man in His Time", do yourself a favor and read it. If only 50% is true he led one hell of a life and turned out some of the greatest films ever made.*

 

Fredb,

 

I totally agree with you about Walsh's autobiography. It's a great read and like Wild Bill Wellman, he's a great storyteller. And what a life he led.

 

If posters haven't seen his episode of *Men Who Made the Movies* be sure to set your recorders tonight. It's on late but it's definitely worth it.

 

As much as I like Ford and Howard Hawks, I think one of the major injustices of the auteur theory is that directors like Walsh, Wellman, Curtiz and Dwan got regulated to second tier status as directors when they are all just as good as Ford, Hawks, Hitchcock and the other directors celebrated as auteurs.

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When you watch HIGH SIERRA tonight, listen for a particular line of dialogue. Henry Travers tells Bogart that he lost control of the car when a jackrabbit jumped in front of it.

 

A similar incident years earlier was responsible for Walsh losing an eye.

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I love so many Cagney and Bogart movies. Maybe just coincidence but The Strawberry Blonde is my favorite Cagney film, and High Sierra is my favorite Bogart film. Both done in 1941 and both directed by Raoul Walsh.

 

Edited by: mrroberts on Sep 11, 2010 11:23 PM

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Walsh was also a good buddy of Flynn and Barrymore's. As Walsh told the story, after Barrymore died, Walsh arranged to have the body taken from the mortuary and placed in Flynn's home, sitting upright with a drink in hand.

 

When Flynn came home and saw Barrymore "sitting" there, he all but freaked out.

 

Blake Edwards used the story in his updated tale of working in Hollywood, *SOB*.

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