Sunday, June 10, 2007

June 10th Log

1939, Raoul Walsh, United States
Repeat Viewing, DVD

Continuing the month of Raoul Walsh films with what is probably my favorite The Roaring Twenties, a film that is masterfully crafted and well executed in all aspects of filmmaking. Walsh's style and direction is wonderful in capturing the feel, look, and atmosphere of both the American time period, and of the gangster film. Through it's images and structure (whichfeatures several news-reel footage throughout) The Roaring Twenties becomes a film of reflection. Also, the film opensin World War I, and later compares the war with the life of a bootlegger gangster during prohibition. Walsh's fine crafted direction and narrative skill perfectly blend with a strong script and an outstanding leading performance from the incomparable James Cagney. Cagney was the key figure ofthe gangster genre of the 1930s, and this would be his final film within the genre until 1949's White Heat (also directedby Walsh). Here Cagney is playing a heroic gangster, as it's one the audience sympathizes with and cares for. Humphrey Bogart is also excellent in an early supporting role as Cagney's selfish double-crossing partner. Of course two years after this film, Bogart became a leading star with the release of the noir classic, The Maltese Falcon. The Roaring Twenties is such a well made film. It builds and absorbs fromthe opening moments in the trenches to the thrilling and tragic finale. The final tracking shot on the stairs is beautiful and perfectly captures the end of an era, the end of the American gangster film, and the arrival of the darker atmospheric film noir. "He used to be a big shot."


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