Oedipus Wrecked: Walsh’s White Heat


The controversy stirred up by Raoul Walsh’s classic gangster film, White Heat—starring James Cagney as the deranged killer Cody Jarrett, American cinema’s most notorious psychopathic and deranged urban outlaw—was exactly what the director loved: fiction that made waves. This was the reason he made movies: for Walsh, controversy was good drama, therefore, good storytelling. Yet when American...

The Saga of Raoul Walsh’s The Big Trail


Raoul Walsh’s The Big Trail, released by Fox Film Corporation in 1930, is the director’s most far-reaching epic adventure. As if the scope of the film wasn’t large enough—cutting across seven U.S. states during filming–Walsh’s personal challenge was no less epic. Less than two years earlier he’d lost his right eye in a jeep accident while on location shooting what would have been his and...

Reconstructing Evil


Orson Welles’ 1958 psychological and visual masterpiece Touch of Evil has been reshaped and reconstituted with no less frequency than an Alfred Hitchcock film in the hands of a feminist. The film – which brought us those great “screen lovers” Mexican-American cop Vargas (Chariton Heston) and swampy, I-am-your-worst-nightmare Quinlan (Welles) — was taken from Welles by Universal...



Leolo, the autobiography of a young boy, is a story with many subjects — each of them fiercely, heart-wrenchingly imagined. On one hand, it’s a story about the dark side of one of the darkest families ever committed to celluloid; on the other hand, it’s a child’s surrealistic voyage of revenge against this brood, mounted with language that is at once visceral and angrily funny...

Mary Pickford: More Than a Sweetheart


Christel Schmidt, editor. Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies. University of Kentucky Press, 288pp America’s original screen darling Mary Pickford always seemed to get there first: she was the screen’s first true icon. one of the first women to start up an independent production company in Hollywood (United Artists, with D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin and her then husband Douglas...

Impolite Society


TASHLINESQUE: The Hollywood Comedies of Frank Tashlin. Ethan de Seife. Wesleyan University Press 280pp In the annals of the Hollywood comedy, the director Frank Tashlin’s films create a place of their own, inhabiting a world at once ribald and delightfully impolite. Tashlin’s landscape is lively, politically and culturally savvy – from his romps with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis...

From Mr Darcy to Mr Big


Entertainment is one thing, but excitement and controversy – what Margo Channing would have called “fire and music” – are quite another. Carol Dyhouse’s Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire offers the former, as the author relates the history of what, she says,women do and have always done: create sexual fantasies about men. This proclivity is a historical fact, she argues, before digging...

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