He is also, without doubt, the most neglected major figure in American movies. Walsh never won an Oscar, and though he lived to 93, he was never even recognized by the Academy with a lifetime achievement award. His most famous films are available individually on DVD, but, alone among great American directors, there is no comprehensive collection of his work. Though he lived a more fabulous life than any depicted in his films, Walsh has never been the subject of a definitive biography (at least in English; there have been two published in France), and his rollicking 1974 memoir, "Each Man in His Time: The Life Story of a Director," has been out of print for decades.
It's strange that Walsh's image faded so quickly after his retirement in 1964. Perhaps he was too prolific for critics and festival organizers to select a truly representative sampling of his work. Perhaps, too, his versatility has prevented him from being instantly identified with a particular genre, like Ford with Westerns, Alfred Hitchcock with suspense, or Preston Sturges with screwball comedies. Whatever the reason, Walsh's life and work remain, for the uninitiated, an untapped source of movie treasure. For the rest of us, it is a gateway to a golden era only dimly remembered but still strongly felt.