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Regeneration (1915)

Passed  -  Biography | Crime | Drama  -  13 September 1915 (USA)
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At 10 years old, Owens becomes a ragged orphan when his sainted mother dies. The Conways, who are next door neighbors, take Owen in, but the constant drinking by Jim soon puts Owen on the ... See full summary »


(as R.A. Walsh)


(book), (adapted from the book: "My Mamie Rose"), 3 more credits »
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Title: Regeneration (1915)

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Complete credited cast:
John McCann ...
Owen - Age Ten
James A. Marcus ...
Jim Conway (as James Marcus)
Maggie Weston ...
Maggie Conway
Harry McCoy ...
Owen - Age Seventeen (as H. McCoy)
Rockliffe Fellowes ...
Owen - Age Twenty-Five
William Sheer ...
Skinny - One of the Gang
Carl Harbaugh ...
District Attorney Ames
Marie Deering


At 10 years old, Owens becomes a ragged orphan when his sainted mother dies. The Conways, who are next door neighbors, take Owen in, but the constant drinking by Jim soon puts Owen on the street. By 17, Owen learns that might is right. By 25, Owen is the leader of his own gang who spend most of their time gambling and drinking. But Marie comes into the gangster area of town and everything changes for Owen as he falls for Marie. But he cannot tell her so, so he comes to her settlement to find education and inspiration. But soon, his old way of life will rise to confront him again. Written by Tony Fontana <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


WILLIAM FOX Presents "THE REGENERATION" (title on original-release poster)






Release Date:

13 September 1915 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Regeneration  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Raoul Walsh and his assistants hired a few local men to recruit extras for the river boat scene. On the scheduled day, they showed up with hundreds of people eager to make a few dollars. Most of them were rough city types and many of the women were obviously prostitutes. See more »

Crazy Credits

There is no cast list during the opening credits or at the end. Actors, however, are credited by intertitles as they appear within the movie, and that is used for the IMDb cast ordering. Actors never mentioned are marked uncredited. See more »

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User Reviews

Birth of a genre
28 March 2007 | by (Paris, France) – See all my reviews

Raoul Walsh, aged 28, has already done it all : he's been a Cow-boy, an actor, and Griffith's assistant for BIRTH OF A NATION, in witch he also played Lincoln's murderer. That's certainly why his very first movies, as this "Regeneration", are already so mastered and so mature. The story of the movie is quite simple : it tells us the life of a gang leader : Owen, from his unhappy childhood to his "regeneration", thanks to Mary, a young lady, who believed in his kindness, and allows him a second chance. But beyond this classical story, this movie is both a brilliant example of Griffith's omnipotent influence on early American cinema and also a totally original and new form of cinema, for it invents the codes of the Gangster's movie and of the "Film Noir" for the years to come.

As in a Griffith's feature, the ideas of the movie are developed thanks to an original use of the editing. For instance, at the beginning of the movie, Walsh superposes a frame of Owen adult, drinking a beer, with one of the same character as a child, eating an ice cream in the exact same position. This editing has of course a narrative function – it reminds us that Owen is the same character of the beginning of the movie, only few years after – but it also presents him, whereas he could appears as a dangerous criminal, as the same innocent victim that he was younger. This king of narrative and yet symbolist use of the editing is both a homage to Griffith and an introduction to Walsh'own style and thematic.

Griffith's influence is also very strong in the movie's will to be spectacular. When Walsh wants to show how Owen tries to change in the contact of Mary, he creates for instance a gigantic fire on a boat, where Owen risks his life saving children. Of course, we're not really in the bigger than life world of INTOLERANCE or of BIRTH OF A NATION, but still, it's the same spectacular idea of the cinema that Walsh and Griffith share. In 1915, Raoul Walsh is certainly still in the shadow of Griffith, but "Regeneration" is a lot more than a copy of Griffith's cinema, and can be fully appreciates without its relation to its style.

The movie is particularly realistic and has nothing to see with Griffith traditional romanticism. It's the adaptation of an ex-criminal autobiography, and Walsh is really good in showing sordid and realistic details, especially in the description of Owen's terrible childhood. The movie is surprisingly strong, violent and realistic for its age. But Walsh also adds to this realistically point of view, a sort or mythification of his Gangster's character, who almost become an icon, witch we'll find again in the all American Cinema to come, from Hawks 's SCARFACE, to Scorsese's movies. Fiction is already torn between realism and myth, and a large part of Walsh's Cinema will develops this thematic, as in his absolute masterpiece : THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON.

The realism of the movie even goes with the myth, for it's mostly in the realistically description of a gangster's everyday life that the "Film Noir" will takes its future codes. Owen and his gang spend most of their time doing nothing : they walk on the docks, in the streets or drinks in clubs, but we almost never see them in action. Or when we do, we see them doing good things, for action time is in the movie regeneration time. Morality is in Walsh'Cinema a rhythm question. Inaction and immobility stuck to the Gangster's life, whereas action and movements is associated to honesty and to the opportunity to grab a good life.

That's how « Regeneration » always seems to be torn between external (Griffith/Walsh) and internal (realism/myth) conflicts, that are the extension of Owen's inner fights between a honest's life and a gangster's one, between the soft world of Mary, and the harsh and masculine one of the Gang. The end of the movie literally destroys this psychological conflict, when the two characters that symbolized each side both died. After having destroyed the two conflicted sides of his personality, Owen's life can really begins, as well as Walsh's cinema.

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