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A Call to Action: The Films of Raoul Walsh

Friday, July 12, 2013
7:00 p.m. Regeneration
Raoul Walsh (U.S., 1915)

Archival Print!
Live Music/Judith Rosenberg on piano

The first feature-length gangster film, Regeneration is a true masterwork of pre-1920s American cinema, and was named to the Library of Congress' National Film Registry in 2000. It is a fascinating excursion into New York, particularly the slums where Raoul Walsh shot on location, recruiting indigents from Hell's Kitchen as extras. (In his book Each Man in His Time, he gives a humorous account of dressing men in drag when not enough women showed up, and of his own arrest for starting a "fire" on a Hudson River barge.) Swedish actress Anna Q. Nilsson stars as a society girl running a Bowery mission where she meets Rockliffe Fellowes, a gang leader whose roots as a battered kid from the Lower East Side are traced in the film's opening sequences. Tailed by a nemesis named Skinny the Rat and a kindly shadow called Hunchy, he does battle with the D.A. and the Devil, and wins the girl's love before the final shootout. Walsh's first film directed for William Fox was long thought lost; The Museum of Modern Art preserved it from a tinted nitrate print discovered in the seventies. 

• Written by Walsh, Carl Harbaugh, based on My Mamie Rose: The Story of My Regeneration by Owen Kildare. Photographed by Georges Benoit. With Anna Q. Nilsson, Rockliffe Fellowes, William Sheer, Carl Harbaugh. (61 mins, Silent, B&W, 35mm, Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation, permission Criterion Pictures/20th Century Fox)