Second Time Around

Walsh at Warners
The Roxie's weeklong series of Warner Bros. films of the 1940s (Friday, Dec. 26, through New Year's Day) spotlights four films by action specialist Raoul Walsh, three of which are at least as good as the more celebrated films that accompany them in the series. Walsh was a blunt, one-eyed, meat-and-potatoes filmmaker; the truck-stop cafes of They Drive by Night (1940, screening Monday) and his other films are steamy paradises of cheap coffee and slangy waitresses. A particularly strong double bill on Saturday -- 1941's High Sierra and 1949's White Heat -- showcases the filmmaker's flair for gutty action. James Cagney's psychotic criminal in the latter film is justly famous, but it's Humphrey Bogart's aging hood in High Sierra, nostalgic for the days of Dillinger, who will win your sympathies -- certainly doe-eyed Ida Lupino falls hard for Bogart's gray-haired buzz-cut jailbird. Like him, she's anxious to "crash out" of the prison of respectable poverty. Walsh's affection for tough women was plain: After the pair quarrel, Bogart says, "I wouldn't give you 2 cents for a dame without a temper." In film after film Walsh showcased dames with tempers like Lupino, Ann Sheridan (They Drive by Night), and Virginia Mayo (White Heat). Lupino is especially good as a nightclub singer with a weakness for the wrong men in the noir-musical-melodrama The Man I Love (1946, screening New Year's Eve), a moody piece that pushes to the limits just what good women could do in movies of the 1940s. In three of these four films Walsh has Lupino walk into close-up past the camera, expressively sad in High Sierra and The Man I Love, and with a glint of madness in They Drive by Night, like Ann Sheridan in the same picture, inexplicably in love with the Nixonian George Raft.

-- Gregg Rickman

For a complete schedule, see the Roxie entry in Reps Etc., Page 74.

 
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