148 Great Directors: Raoul Walsh

“You can really double anybody. If the action is good enough, it can be a monkey with top-hat and spats.”

What Got This Director Here?
: White Heat, mostly.

My Favorite Past Experience Was…: Strawberry Blonde.

What Did I Watch: The Big Trail.

Where Does He Fit: Raoul Walsh’s The Big Trail has John Wayne, who’s pretty amateur in this, but nevertheless it is a lot of fun thanks to his different takes on the landscapes that John Ford would probably become better known for as Walsh’s work became more character driven. You could watch this for gorgeous widescreen frames, of course, but the way things move in and out of those pictures is just as exciting to see. Hidden details are part of the fun here. You can have fun playing “spot the details” on your own, but I am personally fond of the dog lying by the gravestone in a small portion of the frame.


Raoul Walsh and James Wong Howe make for a potent pairing, and Objective Burma’s storyline having such a tonally messy conflict between patriotic jingoism and some deep seated cynicism about the nature of war is not even that rankling by the standards of propaganda. Errol Flynn, by this point using a gun rather than a sword, leads a company of men through the Japanese occupied territory, and this involves a long, depressing slog through the jungles of the region. The real standout is a series of explosions taking place at night that are absolutely gorgeous, and fit right into the Walsh visual scheme of shiny things in hard knock places.


Most Valuable Asset: Wildness in casting and shots.
Most Excited For: White Heat.
Did They Deserve a Spot?: Yes.

Coming Up Next: Arthur Penn, great actor’s director.


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