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The Raoul Walsh File - Part 4

Peter Bogdanovich By Peter Bogdanovich | Peter Bogdanovich August 28, 2013 at 9:39AM

The Raoul Walsh File - Part 4
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Raoul Walsh and Clark Gable

More Raoul Walsh pictures that I saw 1952-1970 and noted in the movie card-file which I kept during those 19 years.

THE KING AND FOUR QUEENS (1956; d: Raoul Walsh).

1963: Fair* (A minor Walsh western, but a vigorous, likeable one nonetheless: Clark Gable plays an adventurer who comes to a small, out-of-the-way town inhabited only by four ravishing widows and a tough old woman, their collective mother-in-law, and attempts to con them out of some stolen gold that is hidden somewhere in the area. Sexy, quite racy, tough and brief, Walsh's personality shines through a generally predictable and obvious script.)

Norther Pursuit still

NORTHERN PURSUIT (1943; d: Raoul Walsh).

1963: Very good (Exciting, fast-paced, typically Walshian adventure set in Canada during World War II; excellently played by Errol Flynn, Helmut Dantine, tightly edited and inventively written. Walsh has such a flair for this sort of movie that one wishes he had more freedom of selection throughout his long and productive and action-packed career. By the way, it is easy to see from where [Don] Siegel learned the cleanness and precision that distinguishes his work as well as Walsh's.)

MANPOWER (1941; d: Raoul Walsh).

1963: Very good* (Fascinating Walshian remake of [Howard] Hawks' Tiger Shark, set in the world of high-voltage-wire men instead of fishermen; with a better cast (Edward G. Robinson is in both, Marlene Dietrich, George Raft), Walsh's film is faster and more vigorous, but Hawks' has a depth of character and a personality that Walsh just misses. On its own, however, this is good Walsh, though not as fine as the other two pictures he made in this great year: High Sierra and The Strawberry Blonde.)

The Tall Men poster


THE TALL MEN
(1955; d: Raoul Walsh).

1963: Good* (Particularly likeable, large-scale Walsh western with Clark Gable, Jane Russell, Robert Ryan, Cameron Mitchell, obviously patterned after Hawks' Red River, about a cattle drive from San Antonio to Montana Territory; excellently filmed, nicely acted, rather superficially written, but personal nonetheless, and vigorously directed.)

Added 2013: I underrated this film the first time around, and appreciated it more when I saw the work again maybe fifteen years later. But for a definitive comment I'd really have to see the picture again: I have a feeling it's considerably better than I have stated. Also it no doubt deserves to be seen on the big screen, which I never have.

Band of Angels still

BAND OF ANGELS (1957; d: Raoul Walsh).

1963: Very good* (A particularly vigorous Walsh melodrama set in the South before and during the Civil War: filled with color, lust, excitement, sex: story of blood-mixing, prejudice, hate, slave trading and hypocrisy. Brilliantly photographed and dynamically directed --- with great gusto that quite overcomes the melodrama of the script by embracing it; very effective performances by Clark Gable, Yvonne de Carlo, Sidney Poitier, Torin Thatcher. One of Walsh's most successful achievements of the fifties, and a vividly memorable one.)

Added 1966: (Really a very good film --- totally anti-North yet not pro-South; a roaring good melodrama magnificently told.)

UNDER PRESSURE (1935; d: Raoul Walsh).

1963: Fair* (Completely likeable, fact-paced, rather shallow, but continually absorbing roughhouse melodrama about sandhogs digging a tunnel from Manhattan to Brooklyn; nice playing by Victor McLaglen, Edmund Lowe, as friendly rivals; much of the Hawksian concept but never deep or moving. A nice film, basically a pot-boiler.)

Silver River still


SILVER RIVER (1948; d: Raoul Walsh).

1964: Very good* (Exciting, compact, superbly directed and played Walsh-Errol Flynn western about a Union soldier who is court-martialed out of service, organizes a gambling establishment, and runs it into an empire of silver mines. Excellently written, directed with zest and gusto, altogether a more than entertaining western saga in Walsh's definitive style.)


A DISTANT TRUMPET (1964; d: Raoul Walsh).

1964: Fair- (One of Walsh's weakest pictures, caused mainly by an intolerably bad cast and a predictable script. Whenever the director is allowed to linger on shots of horses and riders, Indians and cavalry, and on their battles, he shows his vitality, personality and strength. Otherwise, his efforts are hopeless against the talentless players and the hopeless words they are required to speak.)

SPENDTHRIFT (1936; d: Raoul Walsh).

1964: Fair (Likeable, silly little romantic comedy about a playboy millionaire who has everything but money and how he finally goes to work and marries his cute little horse trainer. Walsh handles this ridiculously thin material easily and gets through it swiftly; Henry Fonda is convincing help in the lead. On the whole, this is another of the many frivolous movies Walsh made before picking up his silent-film strength in 1939 with The Roaring Twenties.)

Man I Love still

THE MAN I LOVE (1946; d: Raoul Walsh).

1964: Fair* (Rather strange, dark romantic-melodrama with a semi-jazz, semi-gangster background, well played by Ida Lupino, often oblique in its writing, but directed with vigor and simplicity and typically Walshian vitality. Basically not completely successful in its execution or conception, but fascinating nevertheless.)


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