Raoul Walsh

T. it.: La rigenerazione. Sog.: dal dramma omonimo di Owen Frawley Kildare e Walter C. Hackett Scen.: Raoul Walsh, Carl Harbaugh. F.: Georges Benoît. Int.: Rockliffe Fellowes (Owen Conway), Anna Q. Nilsson (Marie ‘Mamie Rose’ Deering), John McCann (Owen Conway a dieci anni), James Marcus (Jim Conway), Maggie Weston (Maggie Conway), Henry McCoy (Owen Conway a diciassette anni), William Sheer (Skinny), Carl Harbaugh (il procuratore distrettuale Ames). Prod.: Fox Film Corporation. Pri. pro.: 13 settembre 1915 35mm. D.: 64’ a 18 f/s. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Although the vast majority of Walsh’s ear­ly work as a director has been lost, his first feature-length film (five reels) sur­vives, thanks to its fortuitous discovery in 1976. It contains many of the elements of Walsh’s mature style – including a fo­cus on an individual hero hurtling himself through life – as well as some compo­nents, such as an intriguing use of sub­jective point of view shots, that he would later abandon. The 28-year-old Walsh returned from working with Griffith in Los Angeles to his native New York at the behest of William Fox, who had just opened his East Coast studios; according to Walsh in an inter­view with Peter Bogdanovich, the project, based on a best-selling book by Owen Kildare, fell into his hands by chance, when a more senior director refused it: “Oscar Apfel chose the wrong script and I got a thing called Regeneration, a gang­ster picture, which is right up my alley because I knew all those bloody gang­ster kids and everybody in New York… I went down to the waterfront and around the docks and into the saloons and got all kinds of gangster types, people with ter­rible faces, hiding in doorways”.
Walsh is exaggerating a bit here – his own youth, on the Upper West Side, was one of privilege – but his feeling for the city is unmistakably personal: this is no claus­trophobic back lot confection, but a sur­prisingly open and airy depiction of a still growing metropolis, dotted by empty lots and large areas of underdevelopment. The protagonist, played by Walsh’s discovery Rockliffe Fellowes, is a child of the Lower East Side who has grown into a notori­ous gang leader; his ‘regeneration’ occurs when a social worker (Anna Q. Nilsson) teaches him to read, yet his brutal past re­mains a part of him through his friendship with a murderous hunchback (William Sheer) – with ultimately tragic results.
(Dave Kehr)

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