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The Raoul Walsh File – Part 5

The Raoul Walsh File - Part 5

Onward we go through all the Raoul Walsh movies in my 1952-1970 card-file of pictures I saw during those 19 years.

ARTISTS AND MODELS (1937; d: Raoul Walsh).

1964: Fair (Likeably noisy Jack Benny comedy about a less-than-witty advertising man and the campaigns he tries to peddle. With music. Walsh does his usual vigorous job with less than inspired material.)

THE LAWLESS BREED (1952; d: Raoul Walsh).

1964: Very good (A fast, vigorous and exciting Walsh western about a young man who inadvertently becomes a gunfighter and outlaw, is reformed by age and a good woman. Very well played by Rock Hudson, Julia Adams, John McIntire, tightly written, directed with skill, humor, and typical Walshian gusto.)

ST. LOUIS BLUES (1939; d: Raoul Walsh).

1964: Good* (A routine riverboat musical comedy romance about a sarong-wearing star who gets fed up and starts all over again on a showboat in the South — directed and played with such vigor and unpretentious charm that it becomes not only thoroughly entertaining, but really quite good: Lloyd Nolan, Dorothy Lamour, Jessie Ralph are tough and believable, and a young Negro girl named Maxine Sullivan sings two songs in a totally unmannered, simple fashion that is strangely hypnotic. This effective simplicity is, indeed, the key to the success of this modest project.)

THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT (1945; d: Raoul Walsh).

1965: Fair (Jack Benny is a trumpet player who falls asleep and dreams he is an angel sent to herald the destruction of earth; the script is so labored that it would present problems to any director, but Walsh handles things in his usual brisk, vigorous style. It still ended Benny’s film career, but then he was never much in pictures anyway.)

Added 2013: Well, Jack Benny was sublime in Lubitsch’s To Be Or Not To Be, which is more than a lot of bigger film stars have to their credit.

DARK COMMAND (1940; d: Raoul Walsh).

1965: Fair* (Very well directed and photographed, pleasantly acted, but weakly written western melodrama based on the infamous Quantrill’s raiders who terrorized the countryside during the Civil War: John Wayne, Walter Pidgeon, Claire Trevor, Roy Rogers, Gabby Hayes — they all are fun to watch and Walsh’s vigorous style is exciting but none of them can save an ineffectual script.)

BIG BROWN EYES (1936; d: Raoul Walsh).

1965: Fair (Fast paced, typically vigorous Walsh comedy-melodrama involving a pretty manicurist, a handsome policeman, jewel thieves and baby-killers; pretty thin plot, but so effectively directed and lightly handled that it works. Joan Bennett, Walter Pidgeon, Cary Grant are all miscast in varying degrees, but remain personable nevertheless.)

SALTY O’ROURKE (1945; d: Raoul Walsh).

1965: Good (Fast-paced, tightly directed, well played little story about racing, tough and crooked jockeys, gamblers, an honest schoolteacher, her mother, and a handsome horse-owner who’s in trouble with some racketeers and also trying to keep his cocky young jockey in line. Alan Ladd and Gail Russell are fine, and so are Stanley Clements, William Demarest and Spring Byington. Walsh’s vigorous direction keeps it all looking fresh, light and exciting.)

BLACKBEARD THE PIRATE (1952; d: Raoul Walsh).

1965: Fair* (Vigorous, briskly directed pirate adventure yarn, with an outrageous, but thoroughly Walshian bravura performance by Robert Newton as Blackbeard. The script and the other players are either uneven or weak, but Walsh and Newton give the picture an energy and driving force beyond all expectations; there is also an unabashed, almost childlike fascination with the story’s swashbuckling, high-adventure aspects that is especially appealing.)

THE REVOLT OF MAMIE STOVER (1956; d: Raoul Walsh).

1965: Very good- (Fascinating, ambiguously told story of a tough, flamboyant prostitute, her expulsion from San Francisco, her affair with a “respectable” writer, her rise to wealth on the war in Hawaii. Very cleverly written and played to avoid the censors, but clear in its meanings and in Mamie’s lack of regeneration. Perfectly cast with Jane Russell, Richard Egan, directed with typical Walshian vigor and spirit; an amusing and devastating character study, with Russell staring at camera in the beginning (as opposed to the end as in Bergman’s “Monika”), defying the viewer to judge her.)

SEA DEVILS (1953; d: Raoul Walsh).

1965: Fair* (Minor, but typically likeable, vigorous, fast-paced Walsh adventure about a couple of English smugglers who get involved in a political intrigue involving French-British relations, Napoleon, and a lovely lady spy masquerading as a countess. Rock Hudson, Yvonne De Carlo, and a British cast serve Walsh in good stead.)

P.S. 2013: I believe I used the word vigorous to describe Walsh’s direction in every single entry, except

perhaps The Revolt of Mamie Stover where I used vigor instead! It’s a good word for his work, but a bit
overused by my youthful self. Sorry.

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