Raoul Walsh: The True Adventures of Hollywood's Legendary Director

Overview

Raoul Walsh (1887--1980) was known as one of Hollywood's most adventurous, iconoclastic, and creative directors. He carved out an illustrious career and made films that transformed the Hollywood studio yarn into a thrilling art form. Walsh belonged to that early generation of directors -- along with John Ford and Howard Hawks -- who worked in the fledgling film industry of the early twentieth century, learning to make movies with shoestring budgets. Walsh's generation invented a...

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Overview

Raoul Walsh (1887--1980) was known as one of Hollywood's most adventurous, iconoclastic, and creative directors. He carved out an illustrious career and made films that transformed the Hollywood studio yarn into a thrilling art form. Walsh belonged to that early generation of directors -- along with John Ford and Howard Hawks -- who worked in the fledgling film industry of the early twentieth century, learning to make movies with shoestring budgets. Walsh's generation invented a Hollywood that made movies seem bigger than life itself.

In the first ever full-length biography of Raoul Walsh, author Marilyn Ann Moss recounts Walsh's life and achievements in a career that spanned more than half a century and produced upwards of two hundred films, many of them cinema classics. Walsh originally entered the movie business as an actor, playing the role of John Wilkes Booth in D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation (1915). In the same year, under Griffith's tutelage, Walsh began to direct on his own. Soon he left Griffith's company for Fox Pictures, where he stayed for more than twenty years. It was later, at Warner Bros., that he began his golden period of filmmaking.

Walsh was known for his romantic flair and playful persona. Involved in a freak auto accident in 1928, Walsh lost his right eye and began wearing an eye patch, which earned him the suitably dashing moniker "the one-eyed bandit." During his long and illustrious career, he directed such heavyweights as Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Errol Flynn, and Marlene Dietrich, and in 1930 he discovered future star John Wayne.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Raoul Walsh, dubbed Hollywood's original iconoclast, was known for directing gritty gangster dramas, Westerns, sea stories, and war films driven by his love of storytelling and adventure. In this first major study of Walsh, Moss (Giant: George Stevens, A Life on Film) describes a colorful man who was present at Hollywood's creation (he played John Wilkes Booth in D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation). Although he had his differences with the Warner Brothers studio bosses, the company's socially conscious themes and fast-working methods particularly suited him. Walsh worked with Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, and Mae West and helped discover Rock Hudson, but some of the book's most interesting material concerns the seven films Walsh made with Errol Flynn and their brotherly relationship. VERDICT Although Raoul Walsh is now a half-forgotten name in film history, many of his films are still fondly remembered, and this well-written and -researched biography—which benefits from the author's access to scholars and Walsh's family and friends—should help restore luster to his reputation. It should be popular with serious film students.—Stephen Rees, formerly with Levittown Lib., Bucks Cty., PA
Tim Page
Moss…has done an admirable job of examining Walsh's life and accomplishments, sorting out the myths (most of them perpetrated by the man himself) and reestablishing his place in the American pantheon…Moss has obviously studied Walsh's films, and she offers lively, plausible descriptions of those that survive.
—The Washington Post
From the Publisher

"This book bursts with facts, color, and charm, and along the way provides the reader with a clear sense of how the director's character infused his art." -- Choice

"This is a book made out of affection, respect and lengthy research - and surely we have waited long enough for a proper account of the life and work of Raoul Walsh in English." -- Sight and Sound

"Moss brings Walsh to life expertly, mining his many contradictions as she separates mythic chaff from factual wheat to give use the fullest portrait of Walsh we are ever likely to get." -- Directors Guild of America Quarterly

"Moss went through archives, talked to survivors, and read memos, letters, reviews, interviews and autobiographies. The scope of this research is the book's lasting achievement. Walsh was a boisterous and engaging character, and the book does make him come alive. After finishing the book, it is hard not to miss him. -- Frames Cinema Journal" -- Fredrik Gustafsson, Frames Cinema Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813133935
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 7/4/2011
  • Series: Screen Classics Series
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Marilyn Ann Moss is the author of Giant: George Stevens, A Life on Film and has published numerous articles on writers such as Paul Bowles, Theodore Dreiser, and Frank Norris. She was a television critic for The Hollywood Reporter from 1995 to 2009. She lives in Los Angeles, CA.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Prologue: A Wild Ride 1

1 Becoming Raoul Walsh 6

2 Griffith and Beyond: The Apprenticeship Years 25

3 Leaning Forward at Fox 46

4 The Dagger, the Sword, and the Gun 74

5 Pre‐Code Walsh: The Big Camera 98

6 Salt of the Earth 131

7 Beshert: The Early Warner Bros. Years 160

8 Out of the Night: At Home at Warner Bros 180

9 One Thousand and One Nights with Errol Flynn 210

10 In Love and War 236

11 Oedipus Wrecked: The Late 1940s at Warner Bros 263

12 By Land and by Sea 295

13 Reverie 327

14 His Kind of Women 351

15 The Adventure Is Larger Than the Man 370

Epilogue: Walsh's American Scene 400

Filmography 405

Notes 447

Selected Bibliography 465

Index 471

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2012

    500 plus pages of describing every movie and every scene of Wals

    500 plus pages of describing every movie and every scene of Walsh movies made this a tedious read. Having seen many of Mr Walsh's movies I didn't need to read a blow by blow description.
    This reader was left hanging as to what happened between Walsh and his sons. It would have been nice to know more about his relationship with brother George and his children. The author worked very hard on this book and deserves credit for her research I just wished I wasn't left with so many questions.

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