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misswonderly3

Film Noir Fridays: Can't Hardly Wait !

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote}{quote}

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> I can't believe you like the sanitized Code-Spade better. :)

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> NOTE: OH NO! THE QUOTES ARE EATING ME TEXT. I'M STOPPING EDITING NOW.

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> note- I am trying to think of the least around the elbow route to the a** of the story I want to tell, but. here goes:

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> I'm 35 years old, so I predate VCRs slightly. One of my earliest memories is going to see a screening of The Maltese Falcon at the local library with my father (a big Bogart fan.)

> The film made a *huge impression* on me because it was- I think- my first real exposure to a view of *the complexities of life and the various shades of morality in the world.* It was the first thing I'd ever seen that wasn't Care Bears and rainbows and muppets tap-dancing on tabletops- it was *real.* Huston the director and Bogart the actor (and Hammett the writer) give us a film/performance/story that is multi-layered, shaded, debateable (Sam Spade: Hero/Heel/ or both?) *complicated and believable.* And it's not even so much a movie as it is *a machine* (and I mean that in the highest sense of flattery) that chugs along, wastes no time, and trusts the audience to keep up with it.It is story telling at its finest- no moment is wasted, no fat- just chug chug chug to "the stuff that dreams are made of."

 

That is *a lot harder to do* than what Roy Del Ruth and Ricardo Cortez did in 1931: which was (by all appearances to me) *"let's get this one done quick, and put me over as a REAL heel this time- you know the dames go nuts when I'm a heel!"* I seriously doubt any more thought was put into the venture than that. I mean, I am just thinking back now to all the scenes of characters frittering away their time in the 1931 version sleeping, playing solitaire, making coffee, SLEEPING MORE- by the end scene it's like they want the film to end as much as we are; there's (I swear) a minute-and-a-half long establishing shot of San Francisco at the very beginning (okay, we get it: it's set in SF, *NOW WHAT ABOUT THE "IT?"* ) there's the aforementioned lengthy (and DULLY shot) scene of Spade ransacking Miss Wonderly's place; there's even stuff shown that the director doesn't need to show us- like the connection scene between Cairo and Guttman or the clumsy scebe where WE ALL CLEARLY, CLEARLY SEE Gutman order the guy to drug the (criminally oblivious) Spade.

 

 

No, it was a terrible movie

 

 

Just clunk, clunk, clunk.

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Jun 8, 2013 1:54 PM

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Jun 8, 2013 1:56 PM

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I know- you said the first line. The rest is my reply. Sometimes something (annoying) happens when I include someone else's quotes in my replies- they "eat" more and more of the text of *my* message as I go in to try and fix it.

 

It's like a tar baby thing, you just get deeper and deeper in.

 

In the end, half my post ends up in the quotes section and I can't fix it.

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Ok, I'll buy that.

 

So what were we talking about?

 

Oh, I originally liked the Bogart Sam Spade too, since that was the only one I knew of. But years later I learned of the Ricardo Cortez version and the Code, and then I began to realize that the Bogart Spade is a Code Spade, while the Cortez version is not. And that is probably why Mary Astor plays the little old lady school teacher.

 

The ONLY way we can tell that Spade went to bed with her in the 1941 version, is because he suddently started calling her "darling" and "dear" in subsequent scenes. This was a Code way of telling adults in the audience that they had begun a personal relationship. Whereas in the Cortez version, the two pillows in the bed, and other obvious things, made that personal relationship more clear.

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Tom!! I totally loved reading your reviews of THE MALTESE FALCON (1931) and CITY STREETS!!!

 

I haven't had a chance to see CITY STREETS yet, but now I am even more eager to check it out based on your awesome review!

 

And I so agree with so much of what you had to say about the "Falcon" flix! Awesome contributions!!!

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Mark, agree with you ;) Tom your posts are GREAT ;) *City Streets* was the film I was most looking forward to. Syvlia Sidney was so beautiful in this one. Haven't checked the schedule, but hoping this one will be shown again soon. (Programmers, please)

 

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lavenderblue and mark, thanks very much for your comments. That was very kind of both of you to say, and, Mark, once you see City Streets, it would be great to read your response to it. Lavenderblue, I gather by your comment that you also really enjoyed the Mamoulian film since you want to see it again.

 

I'm very grateful to TCM for making City Streets available for us (last night was at least their third broadcast of the film) because it is such a rare little gem to find.

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James, not for a moment do I try to imply that the Huston-Bogart version doesn't have far more depth than the '31 Falcon. I just think that it's a very interesting film from the viewpoint of its pre-code portrayal of free and easy sex (or, at least, freer and easier than the '41 portrait). And, as I said, while Bogart remains the definitive Spade, I also enjoy the kind of sleaziness that Cortez brings to his interpretation of the role, as well.

 

Ricardo Cortez often seemed to play rather dislikable, less than honourable, characters on screen, and his Sam Spade is no exception to that rule. Bogart's Spade, while tough as nails, is still fairly honourable, in my opinion and, therefore, more admirable as a character. But that doesn't mean that an oily pre-code Spade like Cortez isn't well worth a viewing. At least, for me.

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City Streets is one of those movies that I know isn't really all that great, or even all that good. Hackneyed plot, lots of overacting, not all that well cast.

 

But for a mediocre film, it sure has plenty of highlights....

 

- Seeing Gary Cooper in the only movie I can stand to watch him in for more than about five minutes....Love the way he bites into that toothpick, and when Sylvia Sidney asks him how he can afford his spiffy new clothes, he just grimaces and replies....*"Beer".*

 

- Sylvia Sidney. What more can I say? *" KID! KID!! KID!!!"*

 

- Guy Kibbee, barely looking up from his Sunday funnies in order to give Paul Lukas the ok to bump off his daughter's beau - *"IT'S OKAY WITH ME, CHIEF!"*

And then there's that final scene, with Cooper and Sidney driving off into the sunset, with the birds flying above the sea, on what must be the most deserted highway in America, and what do we hear?

 

*DIE MEISTERSINGER!*

 

How can anyone not love this movie?

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Huston's Falcon has such a stellar supporting cast that the '31 version can't really even attempt to rival on that front. I do agree that Una Merkel makes a very cute Effie though.

 

It may be because it's so iconic at this point, but I also happen to think the actual falcon is cooler looking in 1941:

 

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRldPrBny2BBBGe72vB5bI

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSUCPqdkQLDv2aFizPQce0

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Well I like how Lee Patrick plays Effie more than how Una Merkel does, but each of them fit the overall vibe of the version they are in well. Merkel being more of a flirt and softer and Patrick being more hard boiled and intelligent.

 

But the role of Iva is done a lot better by Thelma Todd than Gladys George. This is an area of the Huston version that doesn't work for me. A key part of the plot is that Spade is having an affair with his partner's wife. The way George plays Iva one cannot believe Spade would want to be with a women like that. Huston also has Spade mock Iva making his dislike for her clear to see. That isn't realistic. Being tired of the relationship as seen in the 31 version makes sense. Being disgusted with her doesn't.

 

Again, one cannot place all the fault on the Code for the above.

 

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>As for Cooper, I found him charmingly boyish, unlikely as gangster material, I admit, but quite engaging in his role. Coop never played in a gangster film again, and it's perhaps it's just as well, but his one fling at the genre would be in an impressive, if little remembered, effort.

 

Good point, Tom.

 

I thought it was refreshing to watch Coop play instead of his usual "reluctant hero" type who primarily "reacts" to any given situation which his characters find themselves embroiled, this seems to be one of few films in which he drives more of the action, especially near the end of the film.

 

(...though I suppose given the ending to this film, that "drives the action" line I used DOES seem to have a double meaning here, eh?!) ;)

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Just finished watching Satan Met a Lady, and while it's not nearly up to the Bogart version, and it butchers the plot (a ram's horn instead of a falcon, good grief), it's a sheer delight on its own terms. I'm sure I'm in the minority in saying that, but seeing Warren William and Bette Davis matching double crosses makes all the movie's farcical flaws worth enduring. Just forget you ever saw the real thing and take this one for what it is, a programmer with two of Warner Brothers' liveliest stars leading the cast, and with Alison Skipworth, Arthur Treacher, Marie Wilson*, and Maynard Holmes filling in the missing parts with aplomb.

 

*Don't underrate Marie Wilson's performance as William's dizzy blonde secretary. Think of Marilyn Monroe in The Asphalt Jungle, right down to the high pitched giggle.

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Well, the first half of the film has Cooper's character more or less just floating before he is lured into the rackets. In the later scenes, though, certainly after it's apparent that his boss wants his woman, his character then starts to assert more control.

 

In fact, one of the main obsessions of "Big Guy" Paul Lukas in City Streets seems to be with the women of his underlings and then knocking off those underlings in order to clear the way for him with them.

 

Since Al Capone reportedly said that City Streets is a more realistic portrait of gangsters than most films, was that his way of saying that gangsters spent a lot of time knocking off each other because they liked the other guy's woman? I guess if you hung out with Big Al it might have been better for your long term possibilities if you had a girlfriend that looked like Huntz Hall in drag (though, perhaps, not so good for your love life).

 

 

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*Andy wrote about City Streets: {font:arial, helvetica, sans-serif}And then there's that final scene, with Cooper and Sidney driving off into the sunset, with the birds flying above the sea, on what must be the most deserted highway in America, and what do we hear?{font}*

 

*DIE MEISTERSINGER!*

 

Paramount must have liked that shot, a combination of flying birds (seagulls?) and classical musical. A year later they used it again as the final image in another Gary Cooper film, A Farewell to Arms, this time to the accompaniment of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. In fact, I think they may have even lifted the same footage that was used in City Streets for it.

 

In the first film the birds represented freedom while in the second it was the end of the war.

 

 

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Someone suggested thatTCM make Noir Fridays with Eddie Muller permanent. A great idea.

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> {quote:title=twtpark wrote:}{quote}Someone suggested thatTCM make Noir Fridays with Eddie Muller permanent. A great idea.

.

 

 

That was me. Friday is a night when people can stay up long enough to watch them into the night. And it fostered one nice discussion thread for a change.

 

I think it could be a Friday staple.

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Yes indeed, Geraldddddd(6 'd's here, right?! ;) ) I agree that your suggestion is a mighty good one, too.

 

I was just thinking here that perhaps your rationale for this might've been prompted from those long ago Friday nights in major media centers where horror movies where often showed on this night of the week and late into the evening, and often presented by ghoulish impresarios?

 

Ya see, I've often thought that Film Noir could or might be considered a more "adult" or possibly more "sophisticated"(for want of better terms) form of "horror"...the horror of city denizens going about their business in a dark and often unscrupulous, ugly and horrific manner.

 

(...just a thought...you and others of course might disagree with me here in this definition, and that's okay)

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> {quote:title=jamesjazzguitar wrote:}{quote}Well I like how Lee Patrick plays Effie more than how Una Merkel does, but each of them fit the overall vibe of the version they are in well. Merkel being more of a flirt and softer and Patrick being more hard boiled and intelligent.

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> But the role of Iva is done a lot better by Thelma Todd than Gladys George. This is an area of the Huston version that doesn't work for me. A key part of the plot is that Spade is having an affair with his partner's wife. The way George plays Iva one cannot believe Spade would want to be with a women like that. Huston also has Spade mock Iva making his dislike for her clear to see. That isn't realistic. Being tired of the relationship as seen in the 31 version makes sense. Being disgusted with her doesn't.

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> Again, one cannot place all the fault on the Code for the above.

I think you're right about each film's respective Effie being a good fit. This is tangential, but in the George Raft vehicle Invisible Stripes in 1939, Bogie (as one of the millions of low-lifes he played in the 30s) appears with a far-more-glam Lee Patrick as his trophy blonde.

 

You do sort of have to wonder why Bogart's Spade would've been messing around with Mrs. Archer. Gladys George is certainly not unattractive, but her Iva is so clingy and grating. I think sleeping with his partner's wife has more to do with fulfilling the whole world-weary PI persona than animal lust. :)

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> > {quote:title=jamesjazzguitar wrote:}{quote}the role of Iva is done a lot better by Thelma Todd than Gladys George. This is an area of the Huston version that doesn't work for me. A key part of the plot is that Spade is having an affair with his partner's wife. The way George plays Iva one cannot believe Spade would want to be with a women like that. Huston also has Spade mock Iva making his dislike for her clear to see. That isn't realistic. Being tired of the relationship as seen in the 31 version makes sense. Being disgusted with her doesn't.

> >

> > Again, one cannot place all the fault on the Code for the above.

> > {quote:title=NoraCharles1934 wrote: }{quote}You do sort of have to wonder why Bogart's Spade would've been messing around with Mrs. Archer. Gladys George is certainly not unattractive, but her Iva is so clingy and grating. I think sleeping with his partner's wife has more to do with fulfilling the whole world-weary PI persona than animal lust. :)

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Very good points both, although I thought it was "Ida."

 

Anyhoo, I wouldn't fault Gladys George for the fact that her character is the one thing about the 1941 Falcon that doesn't entirely "work"- and is maybe is a tad superfluous in retrospect.

 

Jadore Gladys George. She was a silent star who faded, then was in a surprise hit for which she was Oscar-nominated for Best Actress in 1936. She went to Warners after that and they largely didn't use her properly or enough, either miscasting her or putting her in small roles. She's sensational in The Roaring Twenties, Flamingo Road, The Crystal Ball (a loan-out, I think) and she gives (maybe) the best performance in The Hard Way as an egomaniacal, drunken showbiz hag dropping to earth like a comet.

 

She's given third billing in Falcon and an unsuitable role more appropriate for a young up and comer (remember Spade's partner is much younger in the 1941 version). George would've been better in the part in 1931.

 

I think it was likely a contractual thing that she found herself assigned to Falcon and I think she makes the most out of a role that is so small and not entirely tangential to the rest of the plot.

 

The relationship between Ida(?) and Spade in 1941 is the one part of the film where Spade is undeniably a heel- although Bogart handles it so as to not make him an utterly loathsome heel; whereas in the 1931 version it was merely a side-dish on Spade's veritable buffet of loathsome, icky behavior.

 

ps- it's possible I'm wrong about the Ida thing and various deets on the career of Miss George. Apologies.

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Jun 9, 2013 10:34 AM

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I like Gladys George too, Addison. *"He used to be a big shot."*

 

She also played DuBarry opposite Norma Shearer's Marie Antoinette and had a small but memorable part in Detective Story (playing on June 24 as part of Eleanor Parker's SOTM tribute). She died just a few years after that appearance at the age of 50.

 

I'm not sure if it was bad casting or the writing of the part (probably some combination of both), but yeah - I would concur that Iva's characterization in the '41 Falcon is a bit of a head-scratcher.

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And now that all you smart people have provided your insightful comments on City Streets , I'll just jump in to say -

* Oh Kid, what was up with that coat during the prison visit? Anybody else flash back to the 90s and David Puddy's man-fur on Seinfeld ? :^0

* Did Dashiell Hammett *really* refer to my beloved Ms. Sidney as "that ugly little baby"?!? :0

* So - is Guy Kibbee more unsettling as a hit man or a dirty old man?

* (Slightly) more serious - it is interesting to imagine what Clara Bow might have done with the lead. Sylvia was so much more delicate (aiding and abetting mob hits aside), while Clara had her own uniquely dynamic energy. They both possessed a special capacity for vulnerability though, not to mention beautiful, highly emotive eyes.

 

Edited by: NoraCharles1934 on Jun 9, 2013 11:48 PM

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