Raoul A. Walsh (March 11, 1887 – December 31, 1980) was an American film director, actor, founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and the brother of silent screen actor George Walsh. He was known for portraying John Wilkes Booth in the silent classic The Birth of a Nation (1915) and for directing such films as The Big Trail (1930) starring John Wayne, High Sierra (1941) starring Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart, and White Heat (1949) with James Cagney and Edmond O'Brien. His last directorial effort came in 1964.
Walsh was born in New York as Albert Edward Walsh to Elizabeth T. Bruff, the daughter of Irish Catholic immigrants and Thomas W. Walsh, an Englishman. Like his younger brother, he was part of Omega Gamma Delta during his high school days. Growing up in New York, Walsh was also a friend of the Barrymore family. John Barrymore recalled spending time reading in the Walsh family library as a youth. Later in life he lived in Palm Springs, California. Upon his death he was buried at Assumption Catholic Cemetery, Simi Valley, Ventura County, California.
Walsh began as a stage actor in New York City, quickly progressing into film acting. He was educated at Seton Hall College and began acting in 1909. In 1914 he became an assistant to D.W. Griffith and made his first full-length feature film, The Life of General Villa, shot on location in Mexico with Pancho Villa playing the lead and with actual ongoing battles filmed in progress as well as recreations (events dramatized in the 2003 film And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself, with Kyle Chandler playing Walsh). Walsh played John Wilkes Booth in Griffith's epic The Birth of a Nation (1915), and also served as an assistant director. This was followed by the critically acclaimed Regeneration in 1915, possibly the earliest feature gangster film, shot on location in Manhattan's Bowery district. Walsh served as an officer in the United States Army during World War I. He later directed The Thief of Bagdad (1924) starring Douglas Fairbanks and Anna May Wong and What Price Glory? (1926) starring Victor McLaglen and Dolores del Río.
In Sadie Thompson (1928), starring Gloria Swanson as a prostitute seeking a new life in Samoa, Walsh starred as Swanson's boyfriend in his first acting role since 1915; he also directed the film. He was then hired to direct and star in In Old Arizona, a film about O. Henry's character the Cisco Kid. While on location for that film Walsh suffered a car accident in which he lost his right eye when a jackrabbit jumped through a windshield as he was driving through the desert. He gave up the part (but not the directing job) and never acted again; Warner Baxter won an Oscar for the role Walsh was originally slated to play. Walsh would wear an eyepatch for the rest of his life.
In the early days of sound with Fox, Walsh directed the first widescreen spectacle, The Big Trail (1930), an epic wagon train western shot on location across the West. The movie starred then unknown John Wayne, whom Walsh discovered as prop boy Marion Morrison and renamed after Revolutionary War general Mad Anthony Wayne, about whom Walsh happened to be reading in a book at the time.
Walsh directed The Bowery (1933), featuring Wallace Beery, George Raft, Fay Wray and Pert Kelton; the energetic movie recounts the story of Steve Brodie (Raft), the first man to supposedly jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and live to brag about it.
He directed several films afterwards, including three with Clark Gable: The Tall Men (1955), The King and Four Queens (1956) and Band of Angels (1957). Walsh retired in 1964.
Some of Raoul Walsh's film-related material and personal papers are contained in the Wesleyan University Cinema Archives, to which scholars and media experts from around the world may have full access.
As John Wilkes Booth in The Birth of a Nation
The Pseudo Prodigal (1913), directorial debut
The Life of General Villa (1914)
The Mystery of the Hindu Image (1914)
The Birth of a Nation (1915)
Carmen (1915), with Theda Bara
The Silent Lie (1917) (aka: Camille of the Yukon)
The Conqueror (1917)
The Woman and the Law (1918), with Jack Connors, Miriam Cooper and Peggy Hopkins Joyce
The Prussian Cur (1918)
Evangeline (1919), with his wife Miriam Cooper
The Deep Purple (1920)
Kindred of the Dust (1922)
The Thief of Bagdad (1924), produced by and starring Douglas Fairbanks, and featuring Anna May Wong
What Price Glory (1926), his most successful silent movie, with Victor McLaglen and Dolores del Río
The Lucky Lady (1926)
The Loves of Carmen (1927), with Dolores del Río
The Monkey Talks (1927)
Sadie Thompson (1928), in which he acted alongside Gloria Swanson
The Red Dance (1928), with Dolores del Río and Charles Farrell
Me, Gangster (1928), debut of Don Terry
The Cock-Eyed World (1929)
The Big Trail with John Wayne; early location movie in widescreen and Wayne's first leading role (1930)
The Man Who Came Back (1931) with Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell
The Yellow Ticket (1931) with Lionel Barrymore and Laurence Olivier
Wild Girl (1932) with Charles Farrell, Joan Bennett, Ralph Bellamy, and Eugene Pallette
The Bowery (1933) with Wallace Beery, George Raft, Fay Wray, and Pert Kelton
Klondike Annie (1936) with Mae West and Victor McLaglen
Jump for Glory (1937)
St. Louis Blues (1939)
The Roaring Twenties (1939) with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart
Dark Command with John Wayne, Roy Rogers, and Gabby Hayes (1940)
They Drive by Night (1940) with George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, and Humphrey Bogart
High Sierra (1941) with Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart
The Strawberry Blonde (1941) with James Cagney and Olivia de Havilland
They Died with Their Boots On (1941) with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland
Manpower (1941) with Edward G. Robinson, Marlene Dietrich, and George Raft
Desperate Journey (1942) with Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan
Gentleman Jim (1942) with Errol Flynn and William Frawley
Northern Pursuit (1943) with Errol Flynn
Uncertain Glory (1944) with Errol Flynn
Objective, Burma! (1945) with Errol Flynn
The Man I Love (1947) with Ida Lupino
Pursued (1947) with Robert Mitchum and Teresa Wright
Cheyenne (1947) with Dennis Morgan and Jane Wyman
Silver River (1948) with Errol Flynn
Fighter Squadron (1948) with Edmond O'Brien
White Heat (1949) with James Cagney and Edmond O'Brien
Colorado Territory (1949), a remake of High Sierra with Joel McCrea, Virginia Mayo, Dorothy Malone, and Henry Hull
Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951) with Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo
Distant Drums (1951), remarkable for its innovative sound effects
The Enforcer (1951) with Humphrey Bogart (uncredited)
Blackbeard the Pirate with Robert Newton, Linda Darnell and William Bendix (1952)
The World in His Arms (1952) with Gregory Peck, Ann Blyth and Anthony Quinn Gun
Fury (1953), with Donna Reed and Lee Marvin
A Lion Is in the Streets (1953), with James Cagney, and Lon Chaney Jr.
The Lawless Breed (1953) with Rock Hudson
Sea Devils (1953) with Rock Hudson
Battle Cry (1955)
The Tall Men (1955) with Clark Gable and Jane Russell
The King and Four Queens (1956) with Clark Gable and Eleanor Parker
Band of Angels (1957) with Clark Gable, Yvonne De Carlo, and Sidney Poitier
The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958)
The Naked and the Dead (1958), with Cliff Robertson, based on the best-selling novel by Norman Mailer
Esther and the King (1960)
Marines, Let's Go (1961)
A Distant Trumpet (1964), final film
Walsh replaced director Bretaigne Windust, who fell severely ill, on "The Enforcer" and shot over half the film, but refused to take screen credit.
The Conqueror (Writer) (1917)
The Big Trail (story contributor) (uncredited) (1930)
Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. (producer) (uncredited) (1951)
The Lawless Breed (producer) (uncredited) (1953)
Esther and the King (screenplay) (1960)
The Men Who Made the Movies: Raoul Walsh (TV Movie documentary) Himself (1973)
The True Adventures of Raoul Walsh (Documentary 2014)
1. Meeks, Eric G. (2012). The Best Guide Ever to Palm Springs Celebrity Homes. Horatio Limburger Oglethorpe. p. 145. ISBN 978-1479328598.
2. Raul A. Walsh at Find a Grave
3. Directors 2
4. Raoul Walsh – Films as director:, Other films
5. "Cinema Archives – Wesleyan University." Wesleyan.edu.
Moss. Marilyn Ann. Raoul Walsh: The True Adventures of Hollywood's Legendary Director (University Press of Kentucky; 2011) pp. 528
Smith, Renee D. The Films of Raoul Walsh: A Critical Approach (2013) excerpt and text search
Paolo Bachmann, Raoul Walsh, Turin: Quaderni del Movie Club di Torino, 1977. (Italian)
Jean-Louis Comolli, "L'esprit d'aventure," Cahiers du cinéma, n. 154, April 1964. (French)
Toni D'Angela, Raoul Walsh o dell'avventura singolare, Rome: Bulzoni, 2008. (Italian)
"Trafic", n. 28, Winter 1998. (French)
"La furia umana," n. 1. 2009, http://www.lafuriaumana.it (Italian)