Thursday, 12 January 2017

Raoul Walsh - A Summer Parlour Game. Cinephiles nominate their favourites

Memory says Raoul Walsh was never nominated for an Oscar for Best Director and none of his movies were ever nominated for Best Picture. Bear that in mind if you plan to watch the televised Academy Awards in coming weeks. 

In the meantime cinephiles have sent in some thoughts about the great mans greatest work. Further contributions welcome. Put them on the Facebook page or by email to For context you can go to Noel Bjorndahl's earlier list.

Adrian Danks: Thanks for the challenge Geoff. Here's a list of 10 from me: THIEF OF BAGDAD, ME & MY GAL, THE ROARING TWENTIES, STRAWBERRY BLONDE, THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON, MANPOWER, GENTLEMAN JIM, THE MAN I LOVE, PURSUED, WHITE HEAT. That leaves out a lot of fine films & I've seen only a smattering from the silent period - but Walsh in the 40s is incredibly rich (I think there is a falling off after that - with some major exceptions). And 1941 for Walsh is one of the greatest of any Hollywood director (3 of the above & HIGH SIERRA). I also have a fondness for the films Walsh made with Flynn. See my essay here in Senses of Cinema

Ben Cho One of the masters, although I love his westerns GUN FURY, THE LAWLESS BREED and THE TALL MEN I gotta say STRAWBERRY BLONDE is my favourite Walsh and one of my all time favourites - perfect cinema. 

I cannot help but wonder whether A LION IS IN THE STREETS might be worth a revisit given the populism gripping some parts of the .globe..

Geoff Gardner Thanks to my first visit to Bologna in 2012, when a dozen Walsh movies were screened, including some till then I thought rare items, I can offer this list Regeneration (1915), Wild Girl (1932), Sailors Luck (1933, My name is Kwin, spelt C-O-H-E-N says someone or other in a film that is as cheerfully politically incorrect toward gays, Jews, African-Americans and any other easy target as any ever made. A mind boggle), Gentleman Jim, They Died with their Boots On, The Roaring Twenties, The Tall Men, High Sierra, White Heat.

Andrew Pike I am very fond of HIGH SIERRA for some moments of real magic and am keen on many other Walsh films, but admit I was defeated by KING AND 4 QUEENS: saw it recently and was completely unimpressed. Did I miss something: what do other people think? I am assuming it was just a bad day for a great director.

(Adrian Danks I agree with you on that film, Andrew - stolid. Walsh's filmography is very full - many great films but also a fair share of duds as well (& some, like SILVER RIVER & DARK COMMAND, that suggest a lot more than they end up offering). That's as it should be. Even in the 40s there are some pretty bad films like ONE SUNDAY AFTERNOON (which is more pointless than bad perhaps), HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT (still deeply strange), & FIGHTER SQUADRON.)

David Hare I am going to sound like an echo chamber here, as like many others I find Walsh such a consistently fine director that a "favorites" list would go some twenties, a few thirties, all the forties and most of the fifties. From his Fox period, Thief of Bagdad 1925 and Yellow Ticket (1931). I also have a soft spot for Every Night at Eight although one would be struggling to make a big case for it other than the way it shows him handling completely pre-packaged studio material. Then High Sierra, Roaring Twenties, Strawberry Blonde, Northern Pursuit, Background to Danger, They Died with, The Enforcer, Colorado Territory, Band of Angels, Tall Men. And many more!

1 comment:

  1. They did a Raoul Walsh retro at a French Film Societies conference in the sixties and UNESCO had some trainees doing a course there at the same time. As a break from saving the world, they were invited to watch the movies and one gave me a fresh formulation of the response it took me years to evolve. - Yeah OBJECTIVE BURMA and MAN I LOVE but BAND OF ANGELS? Are you sure it's the same guy?


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