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The Regeneration (1915)

A boy surrounded by violence grows up to become an infamous gangster.


Raoul Walsh (as R.A. Walsh)


Owen Frawley Kildare (book) (as Owen Kildare), Raoul Walsh (adapted from the book: "My Mamie Rose") (as R.A. Walsh) | 1 more credit »
1 win. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
John McCann John McCann ... Owen - Age Ten
James A. Marcus ... Jim Conway (as James Marcus)
Maggie Weston Maggie Weston ... Maggie Conway
Harry McCoy ... Owen - Age Seventeen (as H. McCoy)
Rockliffe Fellowes ... Owen - Age Twenty-Five
William Sheer William Sheer ... Skinny - One of the Gang
Carl Harbaugh ... District Attorney Ames
Anna Q. Nilsson ... 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 <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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








Release Date:

13 September 1915 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Regeneration See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Fox Film Corporation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Its director, Raoul Walsh, called it "the first feature-length gangster picture ever made." See more »


District Attorney Ames: Very fine and loyal, my boy, but you can't save your friend, and you have lost whatever chance you had - with her.
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 »

Alternate Versions

Kino International released a version which runs 72 minutes and contains an uncredited piano score. See more »


Version of Fools Highway (1924) See more »

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User Reviews

Why have I never heard of this great old silent before?
24 June 2017 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

Directed by Raoul Walsh, this is an exciting and poetic film, using all the elements at play in his greatest movies. Those signatures really stand out, even all the way back at the beginning of his career.

It's the story of a tenement street kid who loses his kindly mother at age 10. (The scene that starts the film is quite moving. This is not to be a comic adventure film, but a very serious drama). The boy is taken in by a neighbor woman, a harridan, but a kind hearted one whose husband is a drunkard who beats her and the boy every chance he gets. The boy starts to lose whatever humanity he had, due to the influence of this battling couple.

He rises to a position of 'prominence' in the tenement community over the years, since he has all the things that the denizens of the street find attractive - a devil may care attitude, a sense of daring, a lot of strength and good looks. He's never lost his inner gentle nature, but it's hidden under a mask of bravado and cynicism that he needs to survive. The actor, Rockcliffe Fellowes, looks like a cross between Marlon Brando, Jimmy Cagney and Jason Segal. He's quite good... in fact he totally reminds me of Brando in THE WILD ONE. The camera loves him. As Owen, he's able to play both sensitive and tough, which is a magic combination for Walsh.

He falls for Marie whom he calls Mamie Rose (Anna Q.Nilsson), a wealthy girl who is being groomed by her parents for marriage to the city's new District Attorney. The DA has just been appointed and tells all the newspapers that he is cracking down on crime. One night, the girl tells the DA that she wants to see what the street toughs are like for herself. The DA tells her and her friends that he knows a dive where they can see all the lowlifes they want to. Of course, after having his picture in the papers all over town, the DA is immediately recognized and the crowd starts to heckle him showing him how tough they really are. The girl cries out for someone to help the foolish DA, and our Owen breaks up the crowd and leads them to safety. Owen is smitten, and Mamie is struck hard with the need to help the poor and destitute.

She immediately starts work in the neighborhood, doing good deeds and handing out medicine and money to the needy. The rest is just about what you would think a Walsh film would be, with Owen trying to make good out of unrequited love for Marie, who doesn't really realize his feelings. He finds inspiration to become better educated and make something of himself through her ministrations. She turns to him as a pillar of strength when things go wrong.

His loyal pal, a street kid who has a deformity who Owen once saved from being made fun of, is a splendid actor. All of the street toughs really look like street toughs, which is refreshing and a bit scary. Walsh builds up the action in a very similar way to The Roaring Twenties, with a really evil gang leader who takes over when Owen tries to goes straight. There was a surprise ending, for me anyway.This film was very well done for the time it was made and I can see how it made Walsh famous. It made me love him all the more for his sensitivity and realism.

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