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Raoul Walsh - A Tribute


TomJH
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Perhaps the reason that the best of the films that Raoul Walsh made for Warner Brothers during the 1940s have so much life to them is because the director himself had really lived before arriving in Hollywood in the very early days of filmmaking.

 

As a boy growing up in New York City in an affluent household, Walsh seemed to meet a virtual Who's Who of early 20th Century celebrities thanks to his father, a prominent businessman and clothes designer. Among the people that young Walsh encountered were Edwin Booth, Enrico Caruso, "Buffalo Bill" Cody, Mark Twain, and Lillian Russell, with whom the young boy was sure he was in love.

 

He shook the hand of then-heavyweight boxing champion Jim Jeffries, while he was in training. He also met two other former champs, James J. Corbett and John L. Sullivan, their characters both being featured in a later film that he would direct. By the time that Sullivan showed up at the Walsh household he was a reformed alcoholic. When Sullivan asked for lemonade, Walsh would later write, "I took this for a sign of weakness but later realized that it was probably one of the bravest things he had ever done."

 

Young Raoul Walsh also met famed western painter Frederic Remington, whose anecdotes of the American West had the future film director dreaming of becoming a cowboy. And, after a stint as a sailor, that's exactly what the rough 'n ready Walsh would become: a genuine wrangler cowboy.

 

Somehow he arrived in California, though, where he would work with the legendary director D. W. Griffith, among, other tasks, playing the brother of the man in had met in his youth, John Wilkes Booth, in Griffiths' The Birth of a Nation.

 

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In 1914 Walsh would have one of the true adventures of his life, travelling to Mexico, to direct, star and ride with the real Pancho Villa in a now-lost film, The Life of Villa. There were real actions scenes mixed in with the fictional on this production. Villa was a ruthless man but he got along with Walsh.

 

By this time, though, Walsh's career as a director had well begun. He directed Regeneration, a film said by many, to be the first full length gangster film (Griffith had directed a gangland short, The Musketeers of Pig Alley, a couple of years before).

 

It was in 1924 that Raoul Walsh directed the first of his most famous productions, and that is where this brief pictorial tribute will begin.

 

*The Thief of Bagdad (1924).*

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I don't know how much anyone ever truly directed the great Douglas Fairbanks in his lavish costume epics, but this Arabian Nights tale is ranked as one of his greatest. Walsh was at the helm of this gargantuan production with some of the most amazing sets of the silent era. If the lengthy film moves a little slowly for some modern audience tastes, it is still a piece of fantasy escapism that can produce a genuine sense of awe. Fairbanks, at age 40, never looked more robust.

 

*What Price Glory (1926)*

 

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!

 

TCM finally showed this famous but rare silent WWI comedy about the rollicking feud and love-hatred relationship between soldiers Flagg and Quirt on the war front, based on a Laurence Stallings-Maxwell Anderson play. Lip readers have long claimed to have been shocked by the salty language they read on the lips of co-stars Victor McLaglen and Edmund Lowe. But then earthy dialogue on the set would truly have kept the two actors in character.

 

*Sadie Thompson (1928)*

 

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Walsh cast himself as the marine sergeant in love with the South Seas prostitute in this first screen adaption of Somerset Maugham's Rain. Many filmgoers regard this version as the best. Certainly it has one of Gloria Swanson's finest performances.

 

Walsh was also cast in the lead role as the Cisco Kid when he directed a talkie western, In Old Arizona, in 1929. A jack rabbit smashing through the windshield of a vehicle he was driving during production, however, cost Raoul Walsh his right eye. He would wear a distinctive black patch for the rest of his life. The lead role in the production was then taken by Warner Baxter, who won an Oscar for a performance that today can best be described as thickly sliced Mexican-accented ham.

 

In 1930 Walsh would cast a bit player, Marion Morrison, as the lead in The Big Trail. The Fox covered wagon western, filmed in an early experimental three camera setup that would later find great popularity in the '50s, did not do good business at the box office. Morrison, whose name was changed to John Wayne for the film, would toil in "B" westerns for the better part of a decade before achieving stardom in John Ford's Stagecoach. But it was Walsh who discovered him and gave Wayne the first prominent role of his career.

 

In 1933 Walsh had one of his few films of distinction during his Fox period when he directed The Bowery, a turn-of-the-century tale, involving, among other things, the legendary leap from Brooklyn Bridge done by Steve Brodie, as played by George Raft. From 1935 to 1939 Walsh toiled as a director at Paramount, any achievements there of minor note.

 

*The Roaring Twenties (1939)*

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Walsh's Warners years started off with a bang, literally, with one of the studio's biggest productions of the year. This epic, sentimental portrait of the Prohibition era was designed as a studio "farewell" to the gangster cycle. James Cagney dominates the proceedings, but Humphrey Bogart, in a supporting role, has one of the best of his pre-stardom hood parts, to which he was allowed to bring a nasty, sardonic humour. Many believe that Gladys George's touching "He used to be a big shot" line delivery enabled her to steal the film.

 

*They Drive By Night (1940)*

 

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A perfect illustration of Warners' uncanny knack for being able to make working man dramas that could also be rousing entertainment. Walsh's direction puts this trucker drama into full drive, with a wonderful cast of stars handling razor sharp dialogue with great aplomb. Ann Sheridan put a snap into her delivery of acid toned one liners in capital fashion, making her roadside waitress performance one of the real highlights of her career.

 

This partial remake of Warners' 1935 Bordertown slides off into murder melodrama in the last quarter, with Ida Lupino's performance dominating the proceedings. Her "The doors made me do it" hysterics in the final courtroom scene, while totally over-the-top, are still fun to watch. The trucker dramatics of the film's first portion, however, are really what make this film so memorable. There's no other trucker roadside cafe in the movies quite as enjoyable as the one in this film's opening minutes.

 

*High Sierra (1941)*

 

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A sympathetic portrait of an old time gangster living past his time, this famous film is remembered, of course, for helping to catapult (along with John Huston's Maltese Falcon, to be released later that same year) Humphrey Bogart into film stardom, after years of toiling in support. Walsh brought a greater depth to his lead characters than many other directors. Bogart is fine as Roy Earle, but Ida Lupino, receiving top billing, is equally touching in her wonderfully vulnerable portrait as a lost soul who gets mixed up with a small time hood, leading to her encounter with Earle.

 

*The Strawberry Blonde (1941)*

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This charming portrait of turn-of-the-century New York City is infused with a winning combination of sentiment, warm humour and overall obvious affection by director Walsh. It's the Gay '90s as one would only wish they could have been. The film also has one of the great performances of James Cagney's career. Walsh may well have been the director with whom the actor had his greatest working relationship.

 

Cagney brings a subtle depth of melancholy to his later scenes to create a wonderfully touching portrait of an impulsive young man who finally mellows into middle age. Olivia de Havilland brings intelligence to her role as Cagney's girl, while Rita Hayworth cast in the title role (after Ann Sheridan balked at appearing in the film, as part of her feud at the time with Jack Warner) was afterward well on the road to stardom (this performance would do it, in combination with her fiery temptress portrayal in Fox's Blood and Sand that same year).

 

*They Died With Their Boots On (1941)*

 

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Epic film adaption of the life of George Armstrong Custer, culminating with a memorable recreation of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, this Walsh western, while historically fanciful (surprised?), works on a multitude of levels. There's a gentle humour and greater concentration on characterization that had been the case in Errol Flynn's earlier westerns with director Michael Curtiz.

 

Walsh's sensitive direction and more relaxed set also helps to bring a greater warmth to Flynn's scenes with Olivia de Havilland than had been the case in the Curtiz productions, as well. The final farewell between the Custers before he departs for his final battle remains a small masterpiece of suppressed emotion. Flynn and De Havilland were never finer together than in this, their final screen scene.

 

*Gentleman Jim (1942)*

 

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!

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Rollicking fanciful tribute to heavyweight boxing champion James J. Corbett, a film of high spirits and obvious affection for a bygone era. Walsh's energetic direction helps propel a production in which all cast members appear to be having the time of their lives. The film has three staged boxing sequences, the highlight, for me, the battle on the barge between a determined Corbett and an old time house-sized brawler in which, at one point, Corbett is knocked off the barge and into the water.

 

This may well have been Errol Flynn's favourite film of his career. It certainly has one of his greatest performances. The final congratulatory scene, sentimental and beautifully played by Flynn and Ward Bond, has no basis in reality. (The real Corbett and opponent John L. Sullivan wouldn't shake hands until 18 years after their fight). That still doesn't prevent the scene from being genuinely moving.

 

*Objective Burma! (1945)*

 

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One of the best WWII action dramas of its time, filmed on Gene Autry's ranch, this film is presented by Walsh in semi-documentary fashion. Overlong and flawed by the usual stock characterizations, the film also breathes authenticity into its portrait of jungle warfare. Attacked by the British press at the time of its release for ignoring the dominant British participation in the Burmese campaign, it still rates as good filmmaking. For this Walsh should be allowed to take a very large bow.

 

*White Heat (1949)*

 

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Walsh's masterpiece, in my opinion. Cagney's comeback performance at Warners, as Cody Jarrett, a psychopathic hood with a mother-fixation, remains an acting tour-de-force that, along with Raoul Walsh's bristling direction, makes this post-war gangster saga continue to ring with a force for modern viewers. The sentimentality of The Roaring Twenties is nowhere to be found in this film, which is as hard and brilliant as a diamond.

 

Walsh has a strong supporting cast, all making striking contributions, as well, including Virginia Mayo (never better) as Cody's two-timing girlfriend, Margaret Wycherly in a portrait of motherly love quite unlike any other seen in the '40s, Steve Cochrane as an ambitious gang underlying seething with ambition, and Edmund O'Brien, as the FBI undercover agent.

 

Two scenes stand out, and how many directors other than Walsh could have presented them with such stunning impact: the prison cafeteria scene, in which Cagney's character suddenly goes nuts, and the fiery inferno of a climax, with Cagney literally at the greatest height of his career as he defiantly screams to the heavens, "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" The resulting atomic imagery was a reminder by Walsh to filmgoers of the new era in which they now lived.

 

Walsh's post-White Heat career, in retrospect, is a disappointment. He still worked with some major players, such as Gregory Peck, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper and a final return engagement with Cagney, but none of the films themselves would be quite as satisfactory.

 

The director's greatest period was, without question, at Warners, book ended by two Cagney gangster films of contrast. The first one romantic and sentimental, with a "society drove them to it" theme, while the second film would be a reflection of post-war reality and pessimism.

 

So here's a tip of the hat to a gutsy man who also had the opportunity to show that he could be a great filmmaker. His name has never had the cache of some other directors, such as Ford or Hawks. Perhaps, with time, that injustice will be corrected.

 

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Thank you Tom. You are truly a blessing to these message boards with all info you provide us with and in such an interesting and entertaining way.

 

Objective Burma! One of my husband's favorite Flynn and WWII films. I like it too, and I think Flynn did an excellent job in it. IMHO.

 

Thanks

 

Lori

 

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Thanks very much for your kind comments, Lori. I'm glad that you enjoyed the posting. And I also get a kick out of your contributions to the It's a Joke, Son thread, as well.

 

The great thing about having access to TCM is that almost all the Walsh films that I listed have been on the channel and undoubtedly will be again. That is certainly the case with his Warners films.

 

I just curtailed the list to what I consider to be the director's best. There are a number of "lesser" Walsh efforts that are at least deserving of mention, and well worth watching, as well. In fact, because some of those films are not as well known, perhaps they deserve even more of a mention.

 

Walsh, like Michael Curtiz, was a great studio work horse director that the critics never regarded as anything more than an efficient provider of "entertainments." His films were hardly regarded as "art." Personally, I suspect that Walsh would have chucked up a bit if anyone had called him any kind of artist. But I think there's a greater depth to a number of the characters that appear in his Warners films than you would normally expect to find in an "entertainment."

 

They Died With Their Boots On, for example, has the sensitivity of the departure scene between Custer and his wife. It's a powerful screen moment, and I'm sure that more than a few viewers over the years have shed a few tears when that scene plays. Well, Walsh's direction, I feel, has as much to do with the effectiveness of that scene as do the beautifully restrained performances of the film's two stars, and Max Steiner's glorious, emotionally overwhelming musical score.

 

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One normally doesn't expect to see a scene with this kind of emotional depth in a mere "entertainment." Thank you, Raoul Walsh.

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Is it just coincidence that my favorite Cagney film, *The Strawberry Blonde* , and my favorite Bogart film, *High Sierra* , have the same director? Perhaps, or maybe its more than coincidence. And they are two rather different films, just showing the range of Mr Walsh.

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Wow, Tom, that must have taken a lot of time and effort. Pics and everything.

 

Do you mind if I ask -just curious - how do you know so much about him? Have you read a biography (or biographies) about Raoul Walsh ? Your info about him seems very solid; and your precis of his work was very impressive. One can tell you're a true fan.

 

My favourites are probably *They Drive By Night*, *High Sierra* ( it doesn't hurt that Ida Lupino is in those two, she's always good), and, of course *White Heat*.

 

 

I'd forgotten that he directed *Pursued*, sometimes described as a "noir/Western". And it's got one of my faves, Robert Mitchum, in it. I'd love to see it again, it's been years.

 

 

Thank you for that little journey into Raoul Walsh Land.

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I'm glad you enjoyed the post, misswonderly.

 

What information I provided about his early years all came from reading Raoul Walsh's 1974 autobiography, Each Man in His Time. Walsh was quite a character, one of the more colourful personalities within the Hollywood community. His rough and ready past, however, didn't intrude upon his ability to get along with various people, not only stars, but the corporate heads, as well, so that his film career was one of the longest in show business history, stretching from working with D., W. Griffith in the 1910s to his final film, made in 1964. That's a half century behind the camera, one heck of a run.

 

Since I grew up with Warners films on television, over a period of time I came to realize that many of my favourites were directed by two directors in particular, Walsh and Michael Curtiz. Walsh had a reputation for action films and being able to work with a lot of macho male stars very effectively.

 

As pointed out, however, the work of some of the ladies in his films could be very impressive, as well Certainly, though, actors like Cagney, Bogart and Flynn owe a great debt to Walsh (not to mention John Wayne, even though his Walsh film didn't make him a major star). All three of their film legacies would probably be diminished if they hadn't had the opportunity to collaborate with this director who encouraged delving into character.

 

By the way, Walsh considered James Cagney to be the greatest actor with whom he ever worked. When you look at Cagney's work in The Strawberry Blonde and White Heat, it's difficult to argue with that assessment.

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Tom, I agree with you regarding "They Died With Their Boots On" the departure scene is very touching and the ending of the film, well forget about it. I really don't like to watch it because I don't want "him" to die. I am not trying to change or comment on history I just get really sad at the ending. My husband who "really likes" Flynn doesn't really care for the film either. He doesn't like it when his 'boyhood hero dies in a movie, I think.

 

While I agree Flynn is excellent in the film it is not a favorite in our household. You understand I am sure?

 

 

Lori

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Thanks for the tribute to one of my favorite directors, Raoul Walsh. I think you named my favorite Warners' films from the 40s -- all directed by Walsh. Two of Flynn's best, two of Cagney's best, a breakthrough part for Bogart; how can you top that? Another unrecognized gem -- Colorado Territory -- which is a remake of High Sierra as a Western, and I think Virginia Mayo's best performance. I always shed a few tears at the end of that one. High Sierra is also the only "gangster" movie that makes me cry. I have a fond memory of my dad and I watching it together and both weeping as Bogie tumbles down that mountain. Very few directors could handle an action picture, yet also evoke performances of exceptional heart from the actors.

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I have seen and enjoyed all 8 of the Warner Brothers movies that you referenced in your original posting (most multiple times) and wouldn't argue against your opinion on any of them. Would love to get your take on the other Raoul Walsh/Errol Flynn collaborations. Especially "Uncertain Glory" as that is not the usual Errol Flynn type of movie.

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I agree that *The Big Trail* is an excellent film, better that *Stagecoach*, IMO. Miss W. mentioned my favorite Walsh film, the psychological, surreal, film noir western *Pursued*. I think it's one of his best. Also worthy of mention are *Northern Pursuit*, and the very entertaining *Captain Horatio Hornblower*.

 

The reason I don't like *They Died With Their Boots On* is not because Flynn dies in the end, but because of the sympathetic portrayal of Custer.

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ValentineXavier wrote, "The reason I don't like *They Died With Their Boots On* is not because Flynn dies in the end, but because of the sympathetic portrayal of Custer."

 

You know what you are quite right, but most films made during that era and about Custer were portrayals of him in a similar "sympatric" light. It wasn't until relatively recently were we the audience were told the truth through other films.

 

Also, there was no way Warner Bros was going to put one of their biggest stars in a film with an unsympathetic character, so they "twisted" the truth and rewrote the story of Custer.

 

I do understand what you are saying though, but I am not sure the audience (in general) could 'handle the truth" in the 1940's.

 

Lori

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You're quite right, given when it was made, a sympathetic portrait of Custer was the only thing possible. I don't really fault those who made the movie for it, but it does spoil my enjoyment of the film.

 

I DO like the portrayal of Custer in *The Little Big Man*. :)

But, I can't vouch for its accuracy.

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I tend to view "They Died with Their Boots on" as an adventure movie, a love story, an the portrait of a hero, not historical fact, so I can "let go" of its lack of historical accuracy and just enjoy it. Apparently, there were issues about even making a film of his life earlier, since his wife was still alive.

 

 

"Uncertain Glory" is a very fine film with a fine Flynn performance. It received poor reviews, but I have always enjoyed it. I think audiences weren't ready for Flynn to play a complex character, but the actor was indeed ready for it, and Walsh managed to extract a multidimensional performance. Paul Lukas is also very good in it.

 

 

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*The reason I don't like They Died With Their Boots On is not because Flynn dies in the end, but because of the sympathetic portrayal of Custer.*

 

Valentine, I really have to agree with rosebette's comments. This film uses the story of a famous American hero in order to provide a wide spread tapestry of adventure and romance (perhaps I should emphasize the last word). It is NOT intended to be historically accurate, though that has always been perhaps the chief criticism of the film over the years.

 

If you view the film from that perspective I think you may be able to enjoy it more. Remember, in 1941 Errol Flynn's screen image was as romantic swashbuckler par excellence, and that's the kind of image that the studio would want to promote. They weren't about to have him play an ambitious, ruthless man who blundered on that last day of his life, and wouldn't listen to his Indian scouts that there were large numbers of Indians around (rather make it a deliberate act of self sacrifice).

 

(By the way, Flynn and Custer did have a number of strong similarities. The real Custer, for example, was FOOLISHLY brave, recklessly leading his men into battle during the Civil War. He could be pompous (and he flagrantly courted relationships with men of affluence within the military) but he did have the respect of the men he commanded because no one ever questioned Custer's physical courage).

 

Part of the effectiveness, I feel, of the famous departure scene in the film between Custer and his wife is because of the audience's knowledge that the General is going to die. It knows that Olivia de Havilland's feelings of foreboding ARE correct. Flynn is very gentle and sensitive in this scene, while Olivia is a pale mask, trying her best not to reveal her true feelings (thus the script contrivance of having Custer discover her diary in order to read aloud her fears).

 

I adamantly DO NOT believe that this same scene (even with the same script) would have been as effective if Michael Curtiz had directed it rather than Raoul Walsh. Curtiz was a brilliant director (he gets my nomination as one of the true greats) but neither star liked him and he always keep them both on edge.

 

Flynn and de Havilland both liked Walsh, felt more comfortable on his set, and, I feel, had the opportunity to explore deeper, more sensitive feelings than they would have if they had a director near by that was ready to suddenly bark at them (as Curtiz often did, it's my understanding).

 

Adding to the poignancy of the scene is the fact when Flynn and de Havilland performed it they were both aware of the fact that, due to pending circumstances, they might not work together again. They were very aware of the fact that, ironically, as they bid farewell to one another as the Custers, they may also, in fact, be bidding farewell to one another as screen co-stars.

 

And I love that final dolly shot at the end of the scene. After Custer has left the room, Raoul Walsh has his camera quickly recede from Olivia, making her a small figure, emphasizing her character's physical and emotional isolation. We then see her swoon to the floor. Olivia's fears that "I pray God that I not be asked to walk on alone" are about to become reality for her.

 

A final comment on the effectiveness of that departure scene. Errol Flynn really believed in Boots while he was making it, and wanted it to be a good film. He felt that the final scene, after it had been performed, would be even more effective if there was a contrasting scene of humour and romance in the film before hand.

 

Therefore if was Flynn's suggestion that another scene be written and performed. Walsh and Jack Warner both agreed with him. Thus, earlier in the film the audience sees the balcony courtship scene between Custer and Libby, the one in which Flynn climbs Robin Hood-like to her balcony, while Hattie McDaniel watches out below, ready to hoot like an owl should her cantankerous father suddenly appear.

 

It's a delightful scene, played both for humor and romance, as Flynn suggested, and it does make the final departure scene, I feel, all the more poignant. Flynn was right, and Walsh was ready to listen to his suggestion.

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When it comes to "lesser" Walsh films I have always enjoyed a 1948 western called Silver River. The film had a troubled shoot, and Flynn and Walsh, who were friends, had a fallout while making the production (which they later patched up). Walsh, in fact, was removed from Flynn's next project, Adventures of Don Juan, as a result of it. Perhaps that is why Walsh does not even make passing reference to Silver River in his autobiography.

 

However this is a western that, rather than emphasize action and adventure, is largely character-driven, having Errol Flynn play an ambitious empire-seeker ready to trample over those around him. There are a number of highly effective exchanges between the actors in this film that make it a more intriguing film than many, I feel.

 

The ending is rather weak, I admit, and some might accuse the film of being a bit talky. Action fans may look elsewhere for their entertainment. But for those interested in seeing a screen hero cast a bit against type and play a ruthless louse (balanced, of course, by the physical elegance and charm that Flynn could bring to a role in those days) it's well worth a look. By the way, Flynn and Ann Sheridan are a strong screen team, in my estimation.

 

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While I enjoy Walsh's immensely fertile stay WB, there is so much more when it comes to his movies than just this period, roughly encompassed by the 40s, before and after. Suffice to say right now that an enjoyable early 30s film he directed, and starring Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett, Fox films' ME AND MY GAL, will kick off this month's star tribute tonight on TCM at 8 pm EST, 5 pm PST.

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Arturo, this thread that I created has my perception of the best films of Walsh's career, thus my emphasis upon his Warners' period.

 

However, if you or anyone else wants to discuss any titles of his that I omitted, I hope you will feel free to join in.

 

In the meanwhile, Arturo, thanks for reminding me that a Walsh film that I've never seen, Me and My Pal, will be broadcast on TCM tonight. Quite frankly, it's a film I look forward to seeing because it's my understanding that it has some great wise cracking dialogue.

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Yes, this is a nice tribute Tom has created here. I have to admit I tend to overlook Walsh and his contributions to classic movies. Some of my favorite movies were directed by Walsh e.g. Strawberry Blonde, but I don't always associated Walsh with there WB movies so a tribute like this is needed to wake me up!

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The only film in his career that I know of which Raoul Walsh would later partially remake was Objective Burma!

 

That occurred six years afterward when he made a western with Gary Cooper called Distant Drums. The settings are entirely different, of course, but the story line is pretty much the same. Seminole Indians replaced the Japanese as the enemy. If memory serves me correct, when a major scene in both films occurs in which some butchered victims are found, the word "slaughterhouse" is used.

 

Actually, since Distant Drums is set in the Florida Everglades, maybe it was not a western so much as a south eastern (not a common term, I must say). Soooo, you seen any good south easterns lately?

 

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It was called Distant Drums but there was an awful lot of Objective Burma in this film. By the way, Raoul Walsh called Gary Cooper one of his best friends, with whom he went hunting and fishing.

The movie was filmed in the everglades. Wrote Walsh, "Cooper complained that he had donated a gallon of his best blood to the mosquitoes and leeches. He brought back a rattler skin, which he claimed he had torn from its original owner in a fit of berserk rage."

 

 

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I watched "Objective Burma!" last night, inspired by the Raoul Walsh thread on here. I acquired the DVD as some kind of freebie with purchase a few years' back but never got around to watching it.

 

 

I found it terribly slow and nothing really exciting or even interesting happened. The special features file contained some interesting military propaganda shorts.

 

 

So, I'm afraid I didn't see what many others have. Anyone care to share??

 

 

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*The only film in his career that I know of which Raoul Walsh would later partially remake was Objective Burma!*

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that two of his early 40s back to back hits at Warners he later remade back to back (or close to it) in the late 40s:

 

HIGH SIERRA - COLORADO TERRITORY

THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE - ONE SUNDAY AFTERNOON

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Bingo! Bingo!

 

You're right, Arturo. Don't know why I had forgotten about those two Walsh remakes, especially since Colorado Territory is a pretty good one. Some might argue that the ending of this film is even an improvement upon High Sierra's.

 

One Sunday Afternoon is a good looking musicalized version of The Strawberry Blonde but trying to cast an affable "nice guy" like Dennis Morgan as an impulsive pugnacious type similar to Jimmy Cagney in the earlier version made me cringe a little. However, I thought that Dorothy Malone was rather good in the role that Olivia had played. Like Olivia, however, it was a little difficult to regard Malone as any kind of "plain jane." Malone was a real beauty, as we all know, who had also had the previous opportunity to demonstrate that she could be sensual on screen, as well (her bookstore clerk characterization in The Big Sleep still kinda rings my chimes a little).

 

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Colorado Terriotry (1949). This is a more than decent western remake of High Sierra, both directed by Raoul Walsh.

 

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One Sunday Afternoon, Walsh's 1948 musical remake of The Strawberry Blonde. The story was first filmed by Paramount in 1933 with the same title as the Walsh remake. The Walsh-Cagney version is incontestably the best.

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Here are a few images of Raoul Walsh with some of the stars of his films:

 

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On the set of High Sierra, with Bogart. Walsh liked to tell tales of Bogie gripping on the set. This is obviously one of the moments in which that wasn't happening.

 

 

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Walsh giving directions to Ann Sheridan on They Drive By Night's set

 

 

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They Drive By Night again. Walsh to the side (black patch), with Alan Hale, George Raft, and (can you see her?) Ida Lupino in the car

 

 

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Eleanor Parker looks a little cut off as Walsh shares a joke with Clark Gable on the set of King and Four Queens

 

 

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Walsh and Ida Lupino night clubbing

 

 

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Walsh with Errol Flynn making Objective Burma!

 

 

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In England, filming Captain Horacio Hornblower, with Gregory Peck. Peck called this one of his favourite films.

 

 

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Walsh, in the fore ground, rehearsing a scene with Bogart and Cagney in The Roaring Twenties. This was the film that began his Warner Brothers period, and what a remarkable ride it turned out to be.

 

 

I created this thread, hoping that the films here might stir some memories in readers, and perhaps give them a jolt as to just how many really good films this terrific, rather neglected, director made.

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He's long been a favorite of mine. Sometimes I joke, and say that some of my favorite John Ford films were really directed by Raoul Walsh. By that I mean that I find similarities between the two directors, and that some Walsh films could pass for Ford films. But, I prefer Walsh, really. While not my very favorite of his films, I find *Hornblower* to be, hands down, the most fun to watch. If I run across it, I can't stop watching!

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