Walsh, Raoul: Director Career–Prolific, Diverse, Underestimated

Raoul Walsh directed the first widescreen spectacle, The Big Trail (1930), an epic western shot on location.  The movie starred John Wayne, then unknown, whom Walsh discovered as prop boy Marion Morrison and renamed after the Revolutionary War General Mad Anthony Wayne; Walsh claimed to be reading book about him at the time.

He helmed The Bowery (1933), with Wallace Beery, George Raft, and Fay Wray, about Steve Brodie (Raft), allegedly the first man to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge.

An undistinguished period followed at Paramount, where Walsh was from 1935 to 1939.

Walsh’s career rose to new heights after he moved to Warner, where he made The Roaring Twenties (1939), with Cagney and Bogart;

Dark Command (1940), with John Wayne and Roy Rogers (at Republic Pictures);

They Drive by Night (1940), with George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino and Bogart;

High Sierra (1941), with Lupino and Bogart;

They Died with Their Boots On  (1941), with Errol Flynn as Custer;

The Strawberry Blonde (1941), with Cagney and Olivia de Havilland

Manpower (1941), with Edward G. Robinson, Marlene Dietrich, and George Raft;

White Heat (1949), with Cagney (his masterpiece).

Walsh’s contract at Warner expired in 1953.

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, and died of heart attack in 1980.



The Pseudo Prodigal (1913), directorial debut
The Life of General Villa (1914)
The Mystery of the Hindu Image (1914)
The Dishonored Medal (1914)
The Great Leap; Until Death Do Us Part (1914)
The Birth of a Nation (1915)
Regeneration (1915)
Carmen (1915), with Theda Bara
The Outlaw’s Revenge (1915)
The Silent Lie (1917) (aka: Camille of the Yukon)
Betrayed (1917)
The Conqueror (1917)
The Honor System (1917)
The Woman and the Law (1918), with Jack Connors, Miriam Cooper, Peggy Hopkins Joyce
The Prussian Cur (1918)
Evangeline (1919), with his wife Miriam Cooper
The Strongest (1920)
The Deep Purple (1920)
Kindred of the Dust (1922)
The Thief of Bagdad (1924), produced by and starring Douglas Fairbanks and Anna May Wong
The Wanderer (1925)
What Price Glory (1926), his most successful silent film, with Victor McLaglen and Dolores del Rio;
The Lucky Lady (1926)
The Loves of Carmen (1927), with Dolores del Rio
The Monkey Talks (1927)

Sadie Thompson (1928), in which he acted with Gloria Swanson

The Red Dance (1928), with Dolores del Rio and Charles Farrell

Me, Gangster (1928)

The Cock-Eyed World (1929)


Sound Films:

The Big Trail (1930), with John Wayne (in first lead role), widescreen Western

The Man Who Came Back (1931), with Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrel

The Yellow Ticket (1931), with Lionel Barrymore and Laurence Olivier

Wild Girl (1932), with Charles Farrell and Joan Bennett

Me and My Gal (1932)

The Bowery (1933) with Wallace Beery, George Raft, Fay Wra

Klondike Annie (1936), with Mae West and Victor McLaglen

O.H.M.S. (1937

Jump for Glory (1937)

St. Louis Blues (1939)

The Roaring Twenties (1939), with James Cagney and Bogar

Dark Command (1940) with John Wayne and, Roy Rogers

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), innovative sound effects

The Enforcer (1951), with Bogart (uncredited director)

Blackbeard the Pirate (1952), with Robert Newton, Linda Darnell and William Bendix

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

Saskatchewan (1954)

Battle Cry (1955)

The Tall Men (1955), with Clark Gable and Jane Russell

The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956), with Jane Russell and Richard Egan

The King and Four Queens (1956), with Clark Gable and Eleanor Parker

Band of Angels (1957), with Clark Gable, Yvonne De Carlo, Sidney Poitier

The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958)

The Naked and the Dead (1958), with Cliff Robertson, based on Norman Mailer’s novel

Esther and the King (1960)

Marine’s Let’s Go (1961)

A Distant Trumpet (1964), final film


Walsh replaced director Bretaigne Windust, who became ill, on The Enforcer and shot over half the film, but he refused to take screen credit.