Raoul Walsh – High Sierra (1941)

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Review (Time Out Film Guide)
A momentous gangster movie which took the genre out of its urban surroundings into the bleak sierras, and in so doing marked its transition into film noir. It isn’t just that Bogart’s Mad Dog Earle is a man ‘rushing towards death’, infallibly doomed and knowing it, from the moment he is paroled and through the half-hearted hold-up to his last stand on the mountainside. He also in a sense wills his own destruction, his dark despair fuelled by the betrayal of an innocent, clubfooted country girl whose operation he pays for, and who casually abandons him as soon as she can ‘have fun’. Terrific performances, terrific camerawork (Tony Gaudio), terrific dialogue (John Huston and WR Burnett from the latter’s novel), with Walsh – who in fact reworked the material as Colorado Territory eight years later – giving it something of the memorable melancholy of a Peckinpah Western. Continue reading

Raoul Walsh – White Heat (1949)

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White Heat (1949) is one of the top classic crime-heist dramas of the post-war period, and one of the last of Warner Bros’ gritty crime films in its era. White Heat is an entertaining, fascinating and hypnotic portrait of a flamboyant, mother-dominated and fixated, epileptic and psychotic killer, who often spouts crude bits of humor. The dynamic film, with both film noir and documentary-style elements, is characterized by an increased level of violence and brutality along with classical Greek elements. Continue reading

Raoul Walsh – Regeneration (1915)

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Description (from Amazon.com)
The first full-length gangster picture ever made according to its director, Raoul Walsh, who would later make “The Roaring Twenties,” “High Sierra,” “The Bowery” and “White Heat.” “Regeneration” is a powerful slum melodrama produced in 1915 on location in the lower east side of New York City, with a gaggle of authentic low-life types performing alongside professional actors.
New York gangs have rarely been as realistically depicted as in this vivid, grungy 1915 melodrama. Aside from its status as one of the earliest gangster pictures, Regeneration is the first feature in the long directorial career of Raoul Walsh, whose marvelously energetic and manly adventures brightened Hollywood’s Golden Age. The plot is a stock tale of a hood (Rockliffe Fellowes, who has a true mug’s face) reformed by a social worker (Anna Q. Nilsson), but Walsh got the grime of the slums into the very grain of the photography. He once explained, “I went down around the waterfront and around the docks and into the saloons and got all kinds of gangster types, people with terrible faces, hiding in doorways.” You can almost smell the beer slopping out of the pail when the hero (as a boy) brings home his cruel stepfather’s alcoholic sustenance from the tavern. Continue reading