By Raoul Walsh
Each Man in His Time: The Life Story of a Director. Walsh wasn’t just a great exemplar of the Warner Bros. house style in the ’30s and ’40s, he was a veritable Zelig of the silent era too, playing John Wilkes Booth for D.W. Griffith in The Birth of a Nation and making movies in Mexico about - and starring - Pancho Villa as that country’s revolution unfolded.
The man behind the eye patch proves himself a gifted raconteur - you feel as though he’s drinking right across the table from you - and he met everyone. Walsh reminisces about directing the first widescreen mega-budget Western, The Big Trail (1930); hobnobbing with Cooper and Cagney; and during the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he’s in the same room with Goering, Goebbels and Hitler, at which point he ponders pulling another Booth, and stabbing the Führer.
Time and again you wonder, how the hell are all these people in the same book? With its bold, swaggering tone - a bar brawl here, a showgirl there - and its fund of anecdote, this is the self-portrait of a two-fisted, old-school macho Hollywood artist who could very well have stepped out of one of his own movies.
Review written by John Patterson.