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Sailor’s Luck

Directed by Raoul Walsh with James Dunn, Sally Eilers, Victor Jory



New York Times Film Critic Dave Kehr In Person!
Raul Walsh Before The Code—Special Event Pricing: Two Films For $15

1933, U.S. Raoul Walsh followed the marvelous Me and My Gal with this even more inventive and audacious comedy, which carries over several characters actors from the earlier film (at least one, Frank Moran, playing the same role) and places them in support of Fox’s leading star couple of the moment, James Dunn and Sally Eilers (Bad Girl). He’s a sailor on shore leave; she’s an unemployed looker who’s trying to get a job as a swimming pool lifeguard, even though she can’t swim. It’s love—which, in Walsh’s world, always carries a powerful current of sexuality—at first sight, but first the couple has to overcome a number of comic misunderstandings and scrapes, most motivated by the oily villainy of Eiler’s predatory landlord (Jory). It winds up with a brawl at a marathon dance, filmed by Walsh as a great, exhilarating surge of energy through a complex, deep-focus space.

“Fast, raucous, racy... the relaxed censorship is well in evidence.” —William K. Everson

In his recently published book When Movies Mattered (a collection of reviews written between 1974 and 1986 and unavailable for many years), New York Times DVD critic Dave Kehr commemorates a “period that saw the emergence of both the so-called film generation—bred out of campus film societies and busy commercial art theaters—and the so-called alternative press,” a time when print publications made room for the kind of long-form movie review Kehr regularly wrote for the esteemed Chicago Reader. Film criticism—already charged with a passionate obsession for European cinema—was simultaneously rediscovering film history (thanks to a burgeoning film preservation movement) and finding exhilaration in an atmosphere of possibility as Hollywood transitioned to the postclassical era and a new generation of promising American filmmakers emerged.

Movies Matter is inspired by Kehr’s trenchant film criticism, expansive knowledge of film history and his active role unearthing films and directors lost in the gaps of both film appreciation and film history (see Kehr’s “Further Research,” a new column launched in the Jul/Aug issue of Film Comment). Movies Matter presents four films selected by Kehr, one of the most important American film critics writing today. On Friday we are pleased to welcome Kehr to the Paramount, to discuss two rare Raoul Walsh pre-Code treasures screened on recently struck 35mm prints. On Saturday we screen two films from the late 70s, one from international star Wim Wenders and one from New Hollywood director Walter Hill. Both were made in the midst of the vibrant period of When Movies Mattered’s writing, “a period of tumult and possibility, when movies were central to the cultural discourse, and we had the time and inclination to take them seriously” (Kehr). Special thanks to Caitlin Fox and Schawn Belston, Fox. Raoul Walsh program notes written by Dave Kehr.


Film Information

SEP 16 @ 8:15pm
SEP 18 @ 2pm

  • Location Bright Family Screening Room
  • Running Time 80 minutes
  • Format B/W, 35mm – New Print!