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Raoul Walsh: The True Adventures of Hollywood's Legendary Director (Screen Classics) Hardcover – May 5, 2011
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"An ideal introduction to the work of a great director and a fascinating man."―Kevin Brownlow, author of The Search for Charlie Chaplin
"Walsh spun outlandish yarns about his early life, which was colorful enough not to need embellishment. In this extensively researched biography, Moss works hard to separate the teller from the tale."―
"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."―Library Journal
"Moss's work shares much more than Walsh's life. It carries us through the epic history of the American film industry."―San Francisco Book Review
"Raoul Walsh was Hollywood's forgotten man. . . . Only now, 30 years after his death, has he been accorded a biography."―Wall Street Journal
"Moss chronicles with dogged research, astute critical observation, and psychological insight"―philly.com
"Moss uncovers some amazing facts and rich anecdotes to color her portrait of this singular movie pioneer."―Wimgo Movies
"Raoul Walsh is one of the finest film books of the year, and an essential addition to your cinema bookshelf."―National Board of Review
"A highly readable biography of this legendary filmmaker with more than 150 films to his credit."―King Features Syndicate, Inc.
"Moss had access to Walsh papers and family stories not previously brought to print and deeply researched this vivid biography of the action-minded but often subtle master."―San Diego Reader
"Moss chronicles [Walsh's life] with dogged research, astute critical observation, and psychological insight."―The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Moss's book is an important step forward in Walsh scholarship―her superb research uncovers reams of production history."―Film Comment
"Moss . . . has done an admirable job of examining Walsh's life and accomplishments, sorting out the myths and reestablishing his place in the American pantheon."―The Washington Post
"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
About 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.
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One of the popular by-products of 1970's era television was a series called THE MEN WHO MADE THE MOVIES. One of the segements that made a huge impression on me was Richard Schickel's interview with Walsh and the accompanying review of his career. It was a mesmerizing moment when I saw this feisty old man talk about some of my favorite movies and his approach to film making which was focused less on the cerebral and more on telling a compelling story that aimed to be exciting.
Author Moss has done a magnificent job of researching Walsh and committing his life and art to paper. If his marriages, sort of hard-living ways and his personal and professional relationships with his actors weren't as interesting as they were, his movies alone would be enough to hook this reader. For all the artsy commentaries that film directors are known for today, coming in contact with the rough-and-tumble Walsh even in book form is a treat. Walsh and so many of his contemporaries made it up as they went along and laid the foundation for great storytelling on many scales. Walsh has been dead for 31 years or so and is buried under an unassuming marker in the Simi Valley. It's great to know that he has not been overlooked or forgotten.
To Walsh's great grandaughter: READ THIS BOOK!
The book is over 400 pages when three hundred would have sufficed. The author keeps repeating the same points over again as if she thinks the reader has a short memory or cannot put two and two together to recall a pervasive underlying theme. The book starts out fine but the middle two hundred pages are just a lot of repetition and prose filling, possibly to pad the page count in order to justify the price.
There are a handful of typographical and chronology errors that makes me wonder who did the proofreading. Examples: She mentions a character in a movie as Hank and two lines later refers to him as Frank. She reminds us he was born in 1887 but goes out of her way to make the point that he was 42 in 1939 when he was really 52 and which she correctly states a paragraph or two later. She says that in the early 1950s he was by then in his 70s when he was only in his early 60s. These may be trite, but put in to question other facts that are not so obvious to check. Finally I have to question her arm chair psychoanalysis of him. She constantly compares him to John Ford. Ford made his movies emphasizing character development and scenery. He was a strange man in real life (read Maureen O'Hara's autobiography). Walsh emphasized the storyline or plot along with the scenery. Leave it at that.
I guess some of you will want to read this book to get a third-party view of Walsh. Go ahead. I'd like to find his autobiography and get entertained.
Albert Edward Walsh was born in 1887 in New York to an Irish Catholic family who were neighbors and friends of the Barrymore family, the distinguished acting dynasty. He began his career as a stage actor, adopted a new first name and quickly migrated to films. Raoul can be seen as the darkly handsome John Wilkes Booth in D.W. Griffith’s groundbreaking classic Birth of a Nation (1915). One of the most exciting and potentially dangerous films in which he acted and served as Assistant Director during this era was Griffith’s timely "The Life of General Villa" which captured the revolutionary in active battle mode. Shot on location in Mexico in 1914, at times during actual skirmishes, it starred the prominent peasant turned General Pancho Villa as himself. Raoul Walsh played Villa as a young man.
Raoul Walsh was a visionary who found a supportive home within then existing studio system. His acting career ended abruptly when he lost an eye in a freak accident that occurred while scouting locations for In Old Arizona (1929) that he was to simultaneously direct. (Irving Cummings went on to complete the film direction and receive the screen credit.) After stints at Fox and Paramount, he spent most of his career working for Warner Brothers. To get his own projects financed, Walsh willingly and without complaint churned out a steady supply of bread and butter solid “B” gangster and western films. He gave then unknown John Wayne his first starring role in "The Big Trail" (1930), the epic big-budget western shot in the proprietary ‘Grandeur’ widescreen process at multiple locations. Although it was not a money maker when released, this film has stood the test of time and is a truly remarkable achievement as this reviewer will attest. Some of Walsh’s other classic films include: "Sadie Thompson" (1928), "The Roaring Twenties" (1939), "They Died with Their Boots On" (1941) and a personal favorite, "High Sierra" (1941). The special effects achieved in the 1924 Douglas Fairbanks silent "The Thief of Baghdad" displayed ingenuity and inventiveness that presage more recent computer generated fakery.
If Raoul Walsh had not lived, Hollywood surely would have found it necessary to invent him. Marilyn Ann Moss has ably reintroduced him to a younger audience and will draw appreciation from older film buffs. She has included a comprehensive filmography as well as extensive bibliography for further reading.