Sign in to follow this  
misswonderly3

Film Noir Fridays: Can't Hardly Wait !

313 posts in this topic

*NoraCharles wrote about City Streets: 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.*

 

Sylvia Sidney is terrific in City Streets. However, I just have to wonder what the effect would have been upon the film if that whirling dervish Clara Bow had been cast in a serious dramatic part instead, especially considering the fact that Paramount usually didn't give the "It" Girl good material. It's a shame that the lady's personal issues kept her out of the production. Based on the performances that she gave soon afterward in Call Her Savage and Hoopla, she was still a dynamo on screen, as both personality and actress.

 

Might be, however, that it was just as well for Gary Cooper that it didn't happen. Being a former paramour of Bow's, he was now having an highly tumultuous relationship with that fiery tiger cat Lupe Velez, a lady highly inclined towards plate-throwing fits of jealousy. (One time she actually stabbed Cooper with a knife). Can you image what Coop's off screen love life would have been like while making City Streets if he had Velez breathing down his neck because he was spending time making a film with Bow?

 

As a matter of fact, Cooper was simultaneously filming a western, Fighting Caravans, up in the mountains, while at the same time returning to studio sets to shoot his scenes for City Streets. That kind of movie making grind, plus his love life battles with Velez (coupled with a mother who was very publically disapproving of Velez, among other ladies that he had known, including Bow) had him soon taking a long needed sojourn to Europe. Cooper was physically losing weight (though he looked good in City Streets) and on the verge of an emotional breakdown, badly needing a break from the Hollywood scene.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tom wrote: (amongst other things)

 

"...there's Bebe Daniels as Ruth Wonderly (we never do hear the first name in the '41 version, do we?)."

 

A trivial and rather self-serving observation I want to make here is, I was surprised at how I actually kind of identified with hearing the name "Miss Wonderly" throughout the film. Not the character, I didn't identify with her, just the name.

Talking about the '31 version of *Maltese Falcon* here. In the "re-make" of 10 years later, the mysterious female client's name is only given once as "Miss Wonderly". Shortly after she changes it to "Brigid O'Shaughnessy". (Which also brings me to the point that someone here said something about that name, and how someone "didn't get it". Get what? Is there some word play or other "take" on the name "Brigid O'Shaughnessy" that I've not picked up on? Do I even want to know?)

 

 

Anyway, all I'm saying is, I was surprised that "Miss Wonderly" did have a first name (although I've never cared for "Ruth", even though, ironically for this story, it means "friend".) And -this is the weird part - it actually felt kind of strange to hear that name that I've taken on here used repeatedly for 70 -odd minutes or so.

Not that I've gone over to the delusional side and have decided that in some way I am "Miss Wonderly". But I must admit, every time they said that name in the film, which was fairly often, I kind of wanted to go "Yes?"

 

 

Maybe it's time to change the screen name. ?:|

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=NoraCharles1934 wrote:}{quote}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

>

Yeah, that coat of Coop's definitely was a forerunner of Puddy's man-fur. But at least he didn't come to the jail wearing a motorcycle jacket with a giant 8-Ball on it. *"You got a question? Just ask the 8-ball."*

 

If Hammett really had made that nasty crack about my Proletarian Princess, my only reply would have been *"What, as opposed to Lillian Hellman?"* ;)

 

Kibbee practically invented the Dirty Old Man role during his pre-code films, so I'd have to say it was more of a surprise to see him as a hit man, though he was the jolliest hit man I've ever seen.

 

As for Sidney vs Bow, with Clara it would have been a different movie, maybe just as good, maybe better, maybe not. I'm glad she didn't get the part, much as I love her in everything I've seen.

 

Digressive thought about second try movies: Has there ever been a "carbon copy" remake as good as Vicki, the 1953 remake of the 1941 I Wake Up Screaming ? When I first saw the remake, I couldn't believe that anyone could successfully replicate Laird Cregar's sublime take on the perverted detective Cornell, but lo and behold, Richard Boone was every bit as creepy, and if anything, "looked" the part even better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=Evenjob wrote:}{quote}There do seem to be more films that are being called noir when their

> inclusion is somewhat dubious, but it's fairly easy to find fit these

> into the noir category if one wants to. Eddie is doing what any smart

> businessman does--expanding the franchise.

So, you're saying that Eddie Muller is deliberating obfuscating the conception of "film noir" to enlarge the number of "noir" films and therefore (somehow) make more money?

 

There's a perception I often see on these boards that everything is about making money. I'm always seeing posts where people comment that this or that film director, studio, or, as in this case, writer and expert on a certain type of movie, is focussed above all on making money.

 

 

Do you seriously think that a person who has, as far as I can tell, dedicated much of their adult life to exploring, defining, preserving, and educating the public about this "genre" known as "film noir", would consciously - and oh so cynically- expand the concept of what is "noir" because it would be "good for business"? And how would exactly would he make more money that way, anyway?

 

 

Call me naive, call me idealistic, call me a cab, but I just don't believe that the ultimate primary motivation for all people and all situations is to make more money.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I would respectfully say that it it is naive. Money motivates most people, including artists and preservationists. And classic movie channel executives. Most especially them!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They might want money to the degree that it would help enable them to further their "cause", in this case, preserving and promoting movies known as "films noir".

No question about it, money makes everything easier, and certainly it makes it much easier to achieve one's goals. Including the preservation of old films, holding film festivals, etc. Can't be done without financial back-up, that's what makes the careful film restoration process and the festivals possible.

But obviously it would be absurd if the very raison d'etre for, say, Muller's Film Noir Foundation, which is to preserve and restore old noir movies, and to promote the general awareness and interest in films noir, was compromised by altering the definition of noir (agreed, always controversial) to include any old "classic" movie, just to enlarge the list of titles in this Foundation.

 

Evenjob seemed to be suggesting that Muller would happily do just that, call any old movie a "noir" if there was the slightest chance he could get away with it, just to expand his kingdom, so to speak.

Since promoting the idea of film noir as Muller sees it is largely what he and his Noir Foundation are all about, it strikes me that it would be counter-intuitive and counter-productive to "expand the business" (as Evenjob says) to the point where he dilutes and devalues the very "product" he is promoting.

 

 

I honestly believe that the man is motivated by more than just finding ways to bring in more money. Maybe he actually believes there are defining parametres around the term "film noir", even if they are very liberal ones, and would be more or less betraying his own ideas about the genre -his "brand", to use a "business" term - were he to compromise them to the point where he'd include obviously Un-noir movies (sorry, "UN-noir" is not a valid word, I know.)

 

 

Obviously I do not know Mr. Muller, nor what motivates him. I'm really just using him as an example of how there can be other driving forces behind what a person does besides making money.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

>

> Call me naive, call me idealistic, call me a cab.

>

Ba-boom: there. *There's your new screenname* (if you want or ever need it, although I personally like "Miss Wonderly" and think it suits you so well.)

 

ps- I can totally see why you'd rather be A. Cab than "Ruth." Ick. It's worse than Iva.

 

pss- Iva? Iva? What the hell kind of a name is Iva? I feel like Bugs Bunny repeating "Hahnsel" to myself all day.

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Jun 10, 2013 11:06 AM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

>

> (Which also brings me to the point that someone here said something about that name, and how someone "didn't get it". Get what? Is there some word play or other "take" on the name "Brigid O'Shaughnessy" that I've not picked up on? Do I even want to know?)

>

It's possible you're recalling something I wrote a few pages (or so) back about how the name "Brigid O'Shaughnessy" never comes up in the 1931 version, she's strictly "Ruth Wonderly." I speculated maybe the filmmakers did that because they thought the audience wouldn't "get it"- ie the rapidly changing names and backstories of the character, when it's actually one of the hallmark details in the movie and sets the tone wonderfully. (It's even later parodied in other versions of detective stories.)

 

It was another example of how the 1931 version doesn't put the same amount of faith in the intelligence of the viewer as the 1941 version does.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the suggestion, Addison. (Hey, how about "Call me Wonderful" ? er, maybe not...)

 

james, I agree with your assessment of the earlier "Falcon". The actor who played Sam Spade (Ricardo Cortez? Not familiar with him, I'll have to look him up) never stopped smiling, a smarmy self-satisfied smile. He was unlikable in almost every way. When his smile wasn't a smirk, it was a leer. ( By the way, I think they should add a "leer" face to the message board emoticons here.)

 

Can anybody tell me if "Miss Wonderly" (man, that feelsl weird) got the death sentence, or life in prison, or what? If the former, Spade was truly horrible - didn't seem to feel sorry for her in the least. Yes, she was a murderer. But in the '42 version, although Spade turns her in, he also genuinely feels sad that he has to do it.

 

Also - to me this is an extremely important point:

In the Huston version, Spade gives a reason for turning her in. A reason beyond "She did it, arrest her."

He gives a very memorable and even heartfelt speech. He says : "You killed my partner. When a man's partner is killed, he's supposed to do something about it. I didn't particularly like him, but he was my partner, and he didn't deserve to die."

I know I do not have that word for word, but something like that.

 

I find that speech very effective, moving even. Partly because of the way Bogart delivers it, but also because it shows that Spade has some kind of moral code, even if it's one that only he can understand.

But the '31 Spade never makes any allusion to his former partner again, except as a piece of the puzzle in the case. This is a guy who doesn't really seem to care about anything.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

>

Now, come on, Fred. I agree, Mary Astor was not the sexiest actress in the world, but she's more alluring - at least in *The Maltese Falcon* - than a "little old lady school teacher".

 

She is not "old" in this, she neither looks nor acts "old". No debutante, but definitely not "old". Nor is she like a "school teacher". (You never knew a sexy school teacher, by the way? They exist.)

 

Also, remember, she's putting on an act when she first appears in Spade's office. (Of course she's putting on an act throughout the entire story, but even more so in her initial meeting with Sam.)

She's hoping to come across as respectable, sympathetic, innocent. So she plays the "refined lady".

She's not that "school teacherish" once she decides to switch to "Brigid O'Shaugnessy".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reading Muller's book, it is obvious (to me) that he has unwavering passion for pulp and noir fiction. While his initial interest in the subject was probably not financially motivated, it cannot be dismissed that he makes his living from this-- and so in that regard, some of his work is probably motivated by the profits he can reap from it. But overall, I would say that if he brings more fans to the genre, then that would make him happier than a nice fat bank account.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right, and presumeably he wants to bring more fans to the actual genre that is "film noir", endless arguments over its definition notwithstanding.

By ever-broadening the idea of what noir is, those potential fans could end up thinking entertainment like the "Maisy" movies are noir. And, fun though they can be if you're in the mood for them, they aren't. (noir, that is.)

 

Everyone is motivated to make money, I never said they weren't. Hey, I like money. (Am I allowed to do a "crowd-sourcing" fund-raiser here, for my dreamed-of trip to Europe? Pm me, folks...)

 

I'm just saying, sometimes it sounds as though people think that every thing that is ever done is prompted solely by the desire to make money, and nothing else. And that just ain't so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This subject reminds me of that wonderful line that Brad Pitt has near the end

of Killing Them Softly --America isn't a country. It's just a business. An exaggera-

tion, but one with more than a kernel of truth in it. Be that as it may, I was being

somewhat facetious in regards to Mr. Muller. I don't think he went into this for the

money alone. I'm sure he has a real affection for film noir, but he has made it into

something of a business, which is fine, and it never hurts to have more films to

write and talk about outside of the usual suspects. After all these years, the film

noir cult is mostly about rearranging cliches on the La Paloma. I am amused that

there is an official go to guy, sort of a mini Harold Bloom, for a genre that is so often

about hardluck lowlifes and their environment,

 

I guess one could complain that Mary Astor was too old to play Miss Wonderly, but

I think she's very believable in the role. She's not overtly sexual which makes her more

interesting when she's trying to play the poor innocent. I don't recall if Bogie ever used

the word school-marm(ish), but I always get a kick out of the scene where she straightens

up her room and sits down and then gets up again to do the same thing and Bogart says

something alone the lines of You're not going to get up and go through that whole act again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If they have pressing financial needs, or there are creditors beating down their doors, it rises as a motivating factor very quickly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

>

> Sylvia Sidney is terrific in City Streets. However, I just have to wonder what the effect would have been upon the film if that whirling dervish Clara Bow had been cast in a serious dramatic part instead, especially considering the fact that Paramount usually didn't give the "It" Girl good material. It's a shame that the lady's personal issues kept her out of the production. Based on the performances that she gave soon afterward in Call Her Savage and Hoopla, she was still a dynamo on screen, as both personality and actress.

>

>

"Whirling dervish"! :D What a great way to describe her - with that mass of henna-ed hair, shining eyes and boundless vitality. I'm admittedly *very* partial to Sylvia Sidney, but the "It" girl was special.

 

It's fascinating to think of them playing the same role - each conjuring to mind such different screen personas.

 

Sylvia%2520Sidney%25202.jpg

Clara%2520Bow.jpg

 

Gotta luv 'em. :x

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem with Sylvia Sidney was her ugly-sounding name. She should have selected a screen name, such as Vicki La Donica, or some such name.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe that in many of these movements it is that money must be seen as a tool. Little can be done on a long-term basis if all the workers are volunteers and all the equipment is donated because such projects go in fits and starts as enthusiasm waxes and wanes. Building an endowment fund allows the hiring of skilled workers and the purchase of proper equipment. In a more important sense it levels the amount of activity to a steady pace which achieves greater results.

 

I doubt that a major magazine will ever feature this man or others in the field as great entrepreneurs because they turned their passion into billions of dollars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't mind her name at all. She was actually born Sophia Kosow to Jewish immigrant parents in The Bronx. "Sidney" came from her stepfather. Not sure when or why she opted for "Sylvia".

 

Edited by: NoraCharles1934 on Jun 10, 2013 7:18 PM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sylvia is an EXTREMELY ugly name. My apologies to all the Sylvias out there. "Sidney" doesn't score any points either. If an actress came to Hollywood today with the real name "Sylvia Sidney", the studio would change it so quickly that she wouldn't know what hit her.

 

Edited by: finance on Jun 11, 2013 9:28 AM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=AndyM108 wrote:

> }{quote} Yeah, that coat of Coop's definitely was a forerunner of Puddy's man-fur. But at least he didn't come to the jail wearing a motorcycle jacket with a giant 8-Ball on it. *"You got a question? Just ask the 8-ball.*"

Actually, he may have looked less ridiculous. ;)

> If Hammett really had made that nasty crack about my Proletarian Princess, my only reply would have been *"What, as opposed to Lillian Hellman?"* ;)

Now, now, Andy - our beef is with Hammett. Don't pick on Lillian. :) To be fair, the rest of Mr. Muller's intro conveyed that Hamett thought Sylvia was actually quite good in what he viewed as a lousy picture. But really, how could you ever call those epic sad eyes ugly?

 

> Kibbee practically invented the Dirty Old Man role during his pre-code films, so I'd have to say it was more of a surprise to see him as a hit man, though he was the jolliest hit man I've ever seen.

>

Well, I suppose it's always nice to see a man who really enjoys his work, huh?

 

Anybody have any thoughts on The Glass Key ? Am I hallucinating again or wasn't Kurosawa's Yojimbo inspired by it and another Hammett novel?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just catching up with this thread. Mark, I did watch the original Falcon (and City Streets) I liked Falcon (for its pre-code touches mostly). It was rather talky (as was the remake) but a lot more staticly filmed which made it more apparent (like a lot of early talkies) I was surprised how similar both films were (even to dialog in many scenes) which Satan Met A Lady was not. Except for the ending and a few plot points remarkably similar.I had seen City Streets the last time it was on so wont go into that one........

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us