Posts tagged ‘John Wayne’
October 16, 2012  |  An Auteurist History of Film
John Ford’s The Searchers

The Searchers. 1956. USA. Directed by John Ford

These notes accompany screenings of John Ford’s The Searchers on October 17, 18, and 19 in Theater 3</a>.

The Searchers and [The Man Who Shot] Liberty Valance are the two masterpieces within Ford’s later project of disclosing the dark underbelly of the American West’s progress from wilderness to civilization

August 10, 2010  |  An Auteurist History of Film
Raoul Walsh’s The Big Trail
The Big Trail. 1930. USA. Directed by Raoul Walsh

The Big Trail. 1930. USA. Directed by Raoul Walsh

These notes accompany screenings of Raoul Walsh’s The Big Trail, August 11, 12, and 13 in Theater 1.

We last crossed paths with Raoul Walsh (1887–1980) when we looked at his early gangster film, Regeneration. Walsh, like Howard Hawks, was eclectic in his choice of genres and retained some of the same aura of robust masculinity that Hawks affected. With rare exceptions, however, Walsh’s films lacked the gravitas and profundity of great art. By saying this, I don’t want to appear dismissive.

December 15, 2009  |  An Auteurist History of Film
And Yet More Competition: Walsh and Tourneur
<i>The Blue Bird.</i> 1918. USA. Directed by Maurice Tourneur

The Blue Bird. 1918. USA. Directed by Maurice Tourneur

These notes accompany the program And Yet More Competition: Walsh and Tourneur on December 16, 17, and 18 in Theater 3.

The career of Raoul Walsh (1887–1980) represents the flip side of that of Mickey Neilan (see last week’s post). Both were rakish protégés of D. W. Griffith, but Walsh found the self-discipline and instinctive artfulness to manage a fifty-year directorial career. Although he worked in all genres, Regeneration speaks to his special facility with “gangster” films and the tragic destinies of their heroes. Some of his best films, including The Roaring Twenties (1939), High Sierra (1941), and White Heat (1949), fall into this category. Happy endings were not requisite, but he could still wax lyrical over the massacre of Custer in They Died with Their Boots On (1941). His auteurist personality was not always universally appealing. He occasionally had a penchant for sophomoric humor, as in his sequels to What Price Glory (his fine 1926 film adaptation of Laurence Stallings’s Broadway hit), which continued to pair Victor McLaglen and Edmund Lowe. Although not so important as John Ford or Howard Hawks, Walsh has an honored place in the history of Westerns. In Old Arizona (1928) is the first talkie shot largely on location, and The Big Trail (1930) is spectacularly inventive in its use of an experimental widescreen process. He worked productively with virtually everyone, from Humphrey Bogart to Mae West, and he discovered—and named—John Wayne. Walsh was an archetypal example of a studio director (Fox in the 1920s, Warner Brothers later) who accepted divergent assignments and managed to mold them into personal statements. Hollywood filmmaking would have been much poorer without him.