Action! The Films of Raoul Walsh, Part 2
April 27-July 2

"Cinema is movement.
  And I made it move."
   —Raoul Walsh

Part 2 of AFI Silver’s Raoul Walsh retrospective focuses on his great run of 1940s films, mostly at his new home studio of Warner Bros., and includes a number of screen classics featuring iconic performances by such stars as Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Errol Flynn, Ida Lupino and Alan Ladd.

“There was never as much poetry or tightly wound tough-guy aesthetics in a Walsh picture as there was in his work during these Warner Bros. years.” –Walsh biographer Marilyn Ann Moss

Along with John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks and William Wellman, director Raoul Walsh (1887–1980) enjoyed one of the most remarkable Golden Age careers in cinema history, having achieved greatness during the silent era (THE THIEF OF BAGDAD and WHAT PRICE GLORY being just two of his masterpieces—he acted in and/or directed nearly 100 other silent shorts and features in addition to these, most of which are now sadly lost) before successfully transitioning to sound, where he directed nearly 80 more features (he retired from acting for good after losing an eye in a freak car accident caused by a bounding jackrabbit during preparation for IN OLD ARIZONA).

Among his peers, there are those whose silent success dwarfs their work in sound (Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Erich von Stroheim), and vice versa (Frank Capra). A more expansive list might include Josef von Sternberg, Allan Dwan, Fritz Lang, Ernst Lubitsch, Yasujirô Ozu, Julien Duvivier and Jean Grémillon. But none can claim careers with the length, breadth or diversity of Walsh—possibly Dwan, but in a career with few of the highs and many more lows than Walsh; and not even Ford, who debuted as a bit-part actor in 1913, the same year as Walsh. By the time of Ford's directorial debut in 1917, actor/writer/director/producer Walsh had directed dozens of films, including 1915's REGENERATION—arguably the first gangster picture.

Though often thought of as an "action" director—he directed numerous Westerns, swashbucklers and gangster films—Walsh's multi-faceted career also included efforts in genres as diverse as musicals and dance films, historical epics and romantic melodramas. He made both flag-waving WWII films and the WWI-set WHAT PRICE GLORY, one of the key antiwar films. He directed James Cagney in both his final gangster picture (THE ROARING TWENTIES) and his comeback a decade later (WHITE HEAT). He hired a young stuntman named Marion Morrison for the lead in the 1930 epic of westward expansion, THE BIG TRAIL, and renamed him John Wayne (with another decade of seasoning, the actor eventually caught on in the genre). In PURSUED, he introduced typically urban film noir stylings—including a surfeit of psychological hokum—to a Western frontier blood feud, creating a deliriously fun "Western noir" in an impressively clever act of genre hybridization. In fact, "Depression comedy," "radio musical" and "map movie" can all be included among his many niche specialties—a career resume that is both echt Hollywood and, with the passage of time, one that seems to be located in a very intriguing parallel universe.

A career like this defies easy summarization, and thus AFI Silver is proud to present the second of a multi-part retrospective of Raoul Walsh's greatly entertaining films.

AFI Member passes accepted at all screenings.


THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT

Humphrey Bogart and George Raft are the Fabrini brothers, ambitious owner/operators of a small, scrappy trucking company that hauls produce all over California. These men work hard and play harder, all the while battling institutional corruption and intense competition from bigger trucking outfits. Walsh’s hard-boiled working class melodrama also stars Ida Lupino—who gives a powerhouse performance—Ann Sheridan, Gale Page and Alan Hale.

DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Jerry Wald, Richard Macaulay, from the novel “The Long Haul” by A. I. Bezzerides; PROD Hal B. Wallis. US, 1940, b&w, 95 min, 35mm. NOT RATED

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Sat, Apr 26, 1:00–just added!; Sun, Apr 27, 8:50; Mon, Apr 28, 7:05

HIGH SIERRA

“Chase scenes are very easy to shoot. Just keep going, keep going, keep going. Get up on top of the mountain, turn around, bring ‘em down again.” –Raoul Walsh

Paroled from a lengthy prison sentence after his mob boss pulls some strings, “Mad Dog” Roy Earle (Humphrey Bogart, in a career-making early star turn) gets back to work by planning the heist of a tony resort in Palm Springs, along with hot-headed youngsters Alan Curtis and Arthur Kennedy. The job goes smoothly, but the getaway is another story. Also starring Ida Lupino, Joan Leslie, Cornel Wilde and Bogart’s own dog Zero as “Pard.” Screenplay by John Huston, who would himself direct Bogart, and rocket them both to A-list stardom, later that same year in THE MALTESE FALCON.

DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR John Huston, W. R. Burnett, from his novel; PROD Hal B. Wallis. US, 1941, b&w, 100 min, 35mm. NOT RATED

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DARK COMMAND

In pre-Civil War Lawrence, Kansas, Texas transplant Bob Setton (John Wayne) defeats local school teacher William Cantrell (Walter Pidgeon) for the job of town marshal. Soon Setton has his hands full, as violent clashes between anti-slavery and pro-South locals erupt into mob violence, jury tampering and paramilitary raids on the town and its surroundings. And then the Civil War actually begins. Walsh’s loosely fictionalized account of Quantrill’s Raiders also stars Claire Trevor, Gabby Hayes, Marjorie Main and a non-singing Roy Rogers.

DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Grover Jones, Lionel Houser, F. Hugh Herbert, from the novel by W. R. Burnett; PROD Sol C. Siegel. US, 1940, b&w, 94 min, 35mm. NOT RATED

UCLA preservation print

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Sat, May 10, 11:10 a.m.; Tue, May 13, 9:15; Wed, May 14, 5:15

THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE

The Gay ‘90s in New York City: who should walk into the office of tough-guy dentist Biff Grimes (James Cagney), badly needing a tooth pulled, than his old pal Hugo Barnstead (Jack Carson), whose scheming got Biff sent up the river for a stretch while Hugo got off scot-free, and who then made off with Biff’s girl Virginia Brush (Rita Hayworth)? Intent on extracting not just the tooth but terrible revenge, Biff comes to realize that Hugo did him a favor in taking the shrewish Brush off his hands, and that his wife Amy (Olivia de Havilland) is the real catch. Cagney and company dazzle in Walsh’s nostalgic New York comedy.

DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, from the play “One Sunday Afternoon” by James Hagan; PROD Hal B. Wallis. US, 1941, b&w, 97 min, 16mm. NOT RATED

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Sat, May 17, 11:00 a.m.; Tue, May 20, 4:40; Wed, May 21, 4:40;
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THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON

“To hell or glory. It depends on one’s point of view.” Custer’s Last Stand gets the Hollywood treatment, based on decades of dime-novel legend-burnishing. Walsh’s film may fail as history, but it gets high marks for screen entertainment. Errol Flynn makes for a flamboyant and wily George Custer; Olivia de Havilland is his loyal wife Elizabeth, here paired opposite Flynn for the ninth and final time. With Arthur Kennedy, Anthony Quinn, Sydney Greenstreet and Hattie McDaniel.

DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Wally Kline, Æneas MacKenzie; PROD Hal B. Wallis. US, 1941, b&w, 140 min, 35mm. NOT RATED

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Sun, May 18, 11:00 a.m.; Thu, May 22, 2:00

WHITE HEAT

“Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” James Cagney gives an impressive, unhinged and iconic performance as psychologically unstable gangster Cody Jarrett. A murderous criminal and tyrannical gang boss, Jarrett’s only soft spot is for his mother (Margaret Wycherly), herself a tough old broad who’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. With Virginia Mayo as Jarrett’s neglected moll, Steve Cochran as his second-in-command with ambitions of his own, and Edmond O’Brien as the G-man sent undercover to root out Jarrett’s operation.

DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Ivan Goff, Ben Roberts; PROD Louis F. Edelman. US, 1949, b&w, 114 min, 35mm. NOT RATED

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Fri, May 23, 3:00; Sat, May 24, 6:10; Sun, May 25, 12:40;
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COLORADO TERRITORY

Western remake of Walsh’s own HIGH SIERRA. Joel McCrea is the longtime outlaw whose hope to make one more score and then retire peacefully to the country goes awry; Virginia Mayo is the dance-hall girl he initially mistrusts, only to discover, in the end, that she was in fact his most trusted friend. The same story would get yet another remake, once more as a gangster tale, in 1955 with Jack Palance and Shelley Winters as I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES.

DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR John Twist, Edmund H. North, from the novel by W. R. Burnett; PROD Anthony Veiller. US, 1949, b&w, 94 min, 35mm. NOT RATED

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Sat, May 24, 11:05 a.m.; Sun, May 25, 11:05 a.m.; Wed, May 28, 5:00;
Thu, May 29, 5:00

OBJECTIVE, BURMA!

On a dangerous mission to destroy a Japanese radar station in the jungles of Burma, Errol Flynn must lead his team of paratroopers on a 150-mile march out of enemy territory to safety after their escape plan via airplane gets scuppered. This is of Walsh’s patented “map movies”—charting the adventure and savoring the suspense of getting from here to there—and among the best of the WWII-era combat movies, in no small part due to the exquisite cinematography by the great James Wong Howe.

DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Ranald MacDougall, Lester Cole; PROD Jerry Wald. US, 1945, b&w, 142 min, 35mm. NOT RATED

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Mon, May 26, 11:00 a.m.; Tue, May 27, 2:15; Wed, May 28, 2:15;
Thu, May 29, 2:15

DESPERATE JOURNEY

Shot down over Germany and taken prisoner, Aussie lieutenant Errol Flynn and his surviving crew members—Yank bombardier Ronald Reagan, Canadian navigator Arthur Kennedy, Brit sergeant Ronald Sinclair and feisty Scot Alan Hale, a WWI vet—promptly bust out of their prisoner camp and begin a perilous journey across Germany and occupied Netherlands, sowing sabotage in their wake. Will they make it out alive and back to Blighty? Or will the risk-taking Flynn foolishly court danger?

DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Arthur T. Horman; PROD Hal B. Wallis. US, 1942, b&w, 107 min, 35mm. NOT RATED

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Sun, Jun 1, 11:05 a.m.; Tue, Jun 3, 4:45; Thu, Jun 5, 4:45

GENTLEMAN JIM

Errol Flynn portrays James “Gentleman Jim” Corbett, the bank clerk-turned-bare-knuckle boxer in 1880s San Francisco who helped boxing transition from an outlaw sport to mainstream respectability, culminating in his title fight against John L. Sullivan (Ward Bond), governed under the newly adopted Marquis of Queensbury rules. Alexis Smith is society girl Victoria Ware, who at first doesn’t like the cut of Jim’s jib, but in time is won over by his sincerity and sensitivity.

DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Vincent Lawrence, Horace McCoy, from the autobiography “The Roar of the Crowd” by James J. Corbett; PROD Robert Buckner. US, 1942, b&w, 104 min, 35mm. NOT RATED

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Mon, Jun 2, 7:15; Wed, Jun 4, 4:45; Thu, Jun 5, 7:00

NORTHERN PURSUIT

Because of his German background, Canadian mountie Steve Wagner (Errol Flynn) is selected for undercover duty and tasked with infiltrating a network of Nazi sympathizers. Wagner must match wits against wily special agent Hugo von Keller (Helmut Dantine), recently escaped from custody and, hidden away in the frozen wasteland above Hudson Bay, intent on unleashing a nefarious sabotage plot. Subterfuge and skullduggery abound in this twisty tale of WWII intrigue.

DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Frank Gruber, Alvah Bessie; PROD Jack Chertok. US, 1943, b&w, 93 min, 16mm. NOT RATED

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UNCERTAIN GLORY

“He was a Frenchman.” In Occupied France, career criminal and escaped convict Jean Picard (Errol Flynn), recently recaptured by dogged police detective Marcel Bonet (Paul Lukas), volunteers for a suicide mission: he will turn himself in to the Nazi authorities and confess to a recent act of sabotage by the Resistance, in exchange for the freedom of 100 innocent men taken prisoner by the Nazis to force the saboteur’s surrender. All the while, Picard plans to make a last-minute escape of his own, but a romance with shopgirl Marianne (Jean Sullivan) inspires a new sentiment in him.

DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR László Vadnay, Max Brand; PROD Robert Buckner. US, 1944, b&w, 102 min, 16mm. NOT RATED

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BACKGROUND TO DANGER

WWII intrigue in Turkey, from the pages of Eric Ambler, also the author of the source material for TOPKAPI, THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS and JOURNEY INTO FEAR. George Raft is American undercover agent Joe Barton, who rather accidentally comes into possession of a packet of photos being carried by Nazi agent Ana Remzi (Osa Massen). A German spy ring led by Sydney Greenstreet wants to use the photos as propaganda, claiming Russia plans to invade neutral Turkey; Russian agents Peter Lorre and Brenda Marshall are tasked with preventing that from happening.

DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR W. R. Burnett, from the novel by Eric Ambler; PROD Jerry Wald. US, 1943, b&w, 80 min, 16mm. NOT RATED

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SALTY O’ROURKE

Deep in debt, gambler Salty O’Rourke (Alan Ladd) takes a flier on a high-strung horse named Whipper and Brooklyn-bred jockey Johnny Cates (Stanley Clements), currently banned from the sport for race fixing. Using his 17-year-old brother’s birth certificate, Cates gets a new racing license but is ordered to attend jockey school, taught by the comely Miss Brooks (Gail Russell). The team has a good shot at winning the Delington Handicap in California, if the love triangle between Salty, Johnny and Miss Brooks doesn’t trip them up. With William Demarest as Salty’s beleaguered best pal Smitty. Cited by French maverick Léos Carax as an influence on his film BAD BLOOD [Mauvais sang].

DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Milton Holmes; PROD E. D. Leshin. US, 1945, b&w, 100 min, 35mm. NOT RATED

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Sat, Jun 14, 5:15; Wed, Jun 18, 5:10, 9:15

THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT

Jack Benny wrung 20 years’ worth of self-deprecating jokes out of the box-office failure of this quirky apocalyptic fantasy. Perhaps his constant panning of the film on radio and TV nonetheless piqued the curiosity of his legions of fans, as it has since gained something of a cult following. Radio orchestra trumpeter Athanael (Benny) dozes off during a broadcast, and dreams he’s a trumpet-playing angel in a heavenly combo. Word comes down from the “Front Office” that the defective Earth, “just a six-day job,” is slated for destruction, with Athanael tasked to sound off the start of the latest apocalypse. Luckily, Heaven's hapless hepcat gets lost in New York, pawns his trumpet and becomes one of the “left behind.”

DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Sam Hellman, James V. Kern; PROD Mark Hellinger. US, 1945, b&w, 78 min, 16mm. NOT RATED

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Tue, Jun 24, 5:15; Wed, Jun 25, 5:15; Thu, Jun 26, 5:15;
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PURSUED

This psychologically skewed Western features jaded Civil War vet Robert Mitchum marrying his stepsister (!) Teresa Wright after killing her brother in a gunfight—with the duplicitous Wright bent on revenge on their wedding night. Written by Niven Busch (DUEL IN THE SUN) and shot by the great James Wong Howe (SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS), director Walsh brings to the Western the mood and atmosphere of a great film noir.

DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Niven Busch; PROD Milton Sperling. US, 1947, b&w, 101 min, 35mm. NOT RATED

35mm preservation print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Preservation funding provided by The Film Foundation and the AFI/NEA Film Preservation Grants Program.

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Tue, Jun 24, 7:00; Thu, Jun 26, 7:00 canceled; Fri, Jun 27, 2:45;
Mon, Jun 30, 7:10–just added!; Tue, Jul 1, 5:20;
Wed, Jul 2, 9:30 canceled

THE MAN I LOVE

“There should be a law against knowing the things I found out about men!” Ida Lupino impresses as tough nightclub singer Petey Brown in this hard-boiled, jazzy melodrama, nearly a film noir in its yen for doomy romance. Quitting New York for California to be reunited with her siblings, Petey is soon busy sorting out the problems of her sisters Ginny (Martha Vickers) and Gloria (Dolores Moran) and fending off the unwanted attention of her nightclub boss, Nicky Toresca (Robert Alda), while wondering if love will really bloom between her and damaged jazz man San Thomas (Bruce Bennett). An inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s musical NEW YORK, NEW YORK.

DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Catherine Turney, from the novel “Night Shift” by Maritta M. Wolff; PROD Arnold Albert. US, 1947, b&w, 96 min, 16mm. NOT RATED

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Wed, Jun 25, 7:00; Sun, Jun 29, 11:00 a.m.; Wed, Jul 2, 5:20