Posts Tagged ‘Humphrey Bogart’

On Oscar night, our happiness and delight for the winners vanish in comparison to the rage that we feel for those who went home with only a magnificent career and millions of dollars in the bank, but no award. We are only a few years away from what I predict will be called Participation Oscars being awarded to all who show up, so let us relish these last few years of cutthroat competition, boycotts, and fashion victims (shout-out to Miss Rivers).

Before they eliminate the barroom brawls of Oscar rivalries, perhaps we’ll see a few more categories added to the list, and therefore I propose an Academy Award for Best Movie Line. Below we remember a few of our favorites from movies that took home nothing more than a program on Oscar night . . . but don’t let’s ask for the moon; we have the stars.

 

AnnaChr“You was going on as if one of you had to own me. But, nobody owns me, see; excepting myself. I’ll do what I please and no man, I don’t give a darn who he is, can tell me what to do. I haven’t asked either of you for a living. I’ll make it myself, one way or another. I am my own boss. So put that in your pipe and smoke it!” – Anna, Anna Christie (1930)

 

 

PublicEn“There you go with that wishin’ stuff again. I wish you was a wishing well. So that I could tie a bucket to ya and sink ya.” – Tom Powers, The Public Enemy (1931)

 

 

KlondikeAnn“When I’m caught between two evils, I generally like to take the one I never tried.” – Rose Carlton, Klondike Annie (1936)

 

 

DarkPass“You know, it’s wonderful when guys like you lose out. Makes guys like me think maybe we got a chance in this world.” – Vincent Parry, Dark Passage (1947)

 

 

TheRose“So what do you do when he comes home with the smell of another woman on him? Do you say, ‘Oh honey, let me open up my lovin’ arms and my lovin’ legs. Dive right in, baby, the water is fine?’ Is that what you say, girls? Or do you say, ‘Fuck this shit! I’ve had enough of you, you asshole! Pack your bags. I’m putting on my little waitress cap and my fancy high-heeled shoes, I’m gonna go find me a real man, a good man, a true man. A man to love me for sure.’ ” Mary Rose Foster, The Rose (1979)

 

 

NinetoFive“If you ever say another word about me or make another indecent proposal, I’m gonna get that gun of mine, and I’m gonna change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot!” – Doralee Rhodes, Nine to Five (1980)

 

 

Clue“Husbands should be like Kleenex: soft, strong, and disposable.” – Mrs. White, Clue (1985)

 

 

Heathers“Come on, it’ll be very. The note’ll give her shower-nozzle masturbation material for weeks.” – Heather Chandler, Heathers (1988)

 

 

LarryF“Now I have a message for all you good, moral, Christian people who are complaining that breasts and vaginas are obscene. Hey, don’t complain to me. Complain to the manufacturer.” – Larry Flynt, The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

 

 

“He never spoke up to you, because you would never listen. I never spoke up to you, because I could never get a word in!” – LV, Little Voice (1998)

 

 

MSDTWHU EC005“You could stand there naked with a mattress strapped to your back and still look like a vestal virgin.” – Monica, 200 Cigarettes (1999)

 

 

Devil1“Is there some reason that my coffee isn’t here? Has she died or something?” – Miranda Priestly, The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

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“Poor Bogie.” Those were my first thoughts on that gloomy Tuesday afternoon when the Hollywood sign must have lost its balance, if just for a moment. The great Lauren Bacall has died at the age of 89, and despite my love for and devotion to this hypnotic talent and beauty of a woman, I felt immediate heartache for her husband, who died 57 years ago. My benevolent concern for Mr. Humphrey Bogart and his new status as a widower was momentary, and as I realized Bogie was probably okay with the situation, I was able to smile on an afternoon when, frankly, I feared I was about to break my “no crying at work” rule. I’ve trained myself pretty well – the dam was up and held steadily as I gathered together my meager belongings and took off a few minutes early to . . . oh, I don’t know . . . bake a cake for Bogart. I had some leftover matzo ball soup in the fridge that’s always better the next day; maybe he would enjoy that.

A dinner night with me is a surefire way to go home with at least one old movie recommendation. I’m delighted when the next dinner comes around and friends admit to me that they never knew so many lines came from Casablanca (1942). Other text messages arrive during their first viewing of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), shocked and disturbed that a black-and-white film could go to such dark and evil levels of the human psyche. Some are tickled more by “As Time Goes By” than by dead rats on a silver platter; others just the opposite, and I’m grateful for all the schmaltzy saps and sickos who invite me to dine with them.

On many a dinner I’ve made the pitch for Dark Passage (1947) as much I have for The Lion in Winter (1968) or All About Eve (1950), but I don’t believe I’ve succeeded yet in making a sale. I remember watching an interview with someone who described Bogie and Bacall’s third movie together as, “not a great film but a good film.” Perhaps one of the first times a movie audience witnessed a woman rescuing a man (who else but Lauren Bacall?), Dark Passage follows the journey of an escaped convict and those who help him on his odyssey out of San Francisco. True, I’m not holding a grudge against the Academy for ignoring this one, and it’s not a film you want to watch with that person in your life who moans “Oh, yeah right!” (you just thought of a name, didn’t you?). But trust me, a classic doesn’t have to be an upturned nose of a “Claaaaassic,” and if DVDs wear out from being overplayed, soon I’ll have to buy a new copy of this one.

A treacherous little filming technique at the time, the first hour of Dark Passage is shot almost completely from Humphrey Bogart’s point of view, allowing us to see Lauren Bacall just as he sees her. His hands become ours, as we light her cigarette from across the table; we hide behind her in an elevator, just a few inches from her face; when we all wake up after hiking the hills and staircases of the San Francisco streets, her masterpiece of a face is the first to come into focus. Here we enjoy Bacall as we always have and always will, but we’re also granted the privilege of seeing her through Bogie’s eyes, and, if only for a moment, loving her with Bogie’s love. As the fog of sadness began to lift last night, Dark Passage became the very cake and soup that I felt Bogie so desperately needed.

Thank you, Betty Perske. Thank you, Lauren Bacall. We’re so grateful that the two of you met.

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The quintessential “Cowboys and Indians” child? I’m afraid not . . . my childhood definitions of rough ‘n’ tough would probably involve Bette Midler defeating any cowboy or Indian with one boa tied behind her back. While other boys were playing with their toy guns and lighting small fires around the neighborhood, I was pretending my horse on a stick was Maleficent’s magic staff from Sleeping Beauty (1959). John Wayne was nothing more to me than the actor whose footprints Lucy stole from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Being that type of “man boy” required too much of a dedicated effort, and I was already exhausted from traditional childhood activities such as broomstick maintenance and tending to my flying monkeys.

Yes I can see now that scattered are the days when I turn my wheel towards films that involve horses, deserts, chase scenes, and shoot-outs. But in my 31 years it’s time I learned never to say never . . . when Humphrey Bogart mines for gold (armed with a gun and a touch of the “crazy”), I seized that stinking wheel with both hands. Adapted from B. Traven’s novel and primarily filmed on location, John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) follows three men on their search for gold in the remote mountains of Mexico. We begin to second- and third-guess each member of the trio, unsure of alliances that could throw a potential wrench in the gears . . . or at someone’s head. Perhaps ill-gotten gold is no one’s gain, unless you bump off your partners before they can get to you.


Joining the infallible Humphrey Bogart on the hunt is Tim Holt and Walter Huston (the director’s father in a well-deserved, Oscar-winning role). Quite the jolly award season it was for the Huston family — the hunt for gold proved profitable, as John Huston walked away with two Academy Awards for this amazing venture (one for directing and one for his screenplay). Even if he had lost, why, oh why wasn’t Bogie nominated for this one? The greed of Bogart’s unseemly character moves him swiftly into a paranoid state; a hypnotic decent of which only Bogart seems capable. While many embraced it at the time, certain audience members were less than thrilled when Warner Bros. took “loveable” out the “loveable tough guy” Bogart formula. Aside from the gold itself, his character has no love interest to soften him, and both he and his storyline get dark and sinister as the film progresses. It’s a darkness that is more than Oscar-worthy, but I guess this is just one of life’s misfortunes that keep me awake at night.

Misquoted lines seem to follow Humphrey Bogart from screen to screen. Not only did that elbow-patched bozo sitting next to me during Casablanca at the Symphony refuse to keep quiet, but also he seemed determined to destroy each and every line of the script. It was a challenge deciding which was more bothersome, but luckily Mom shushed him a few times and settled the matter. When it comes to referencing “stinking badges” in popular culture, the occurrences are endless. Usually it’s a combination of Alfonso Bedoya’s original lines used to defy authority: “we don’t need no stinking badges” delivers a very specific punch to its recipients, yes, but line deserves revisiting . . . “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!” Let’s remain faithful, shall we?

Whether you rode your stick horse properly or used it to cast spells, this is one for all to savor. Maybe they ain’t been around for millions of years, but there’s gold in them old movies, and trust me, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is more than worth its weight.


Academy Awards for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1949):
Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Director, and Best Writing (Screenplay)

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Happy birthday, Bogie!


Enjoy some of Bogart’s finest:

Casablanca (1942)

Dark Passage (1947)

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)


“One Saturday morning in 1942, Mother and Rosalie took me to the Capitol Theatre to see a movie called Casablanca. We all loved it, and Rosalie was mad about Humphrey Bogart. I thought he was good in it, but mad about him? Not at all. She thought he was sexy. I thought she was crazy . . . Bogart didn’t vaguely resemble Leslie Howard. Not in any way. So much for my judgment at that time.” — Lauren Bacall, By Myself and Then Some

Who better to introduce Casablanca than Lauren Bacall? Luckily for Bogie, she decided to marry him three years later, and all he had to do was whistle . . .

I thought that eventually writing about the monumental classics would no longer intimidate me or my pen, but I admit there are still some from which I shy away. The pedestal on which so many of these are placed is bulldozing enough, but finding something new to say that hasn’t been said is equally paralyzing. If you’re on the hunt, you’ll find hundreds of books that will summarize, analyze, babble, and gabble about Casablanca and its history. . . I’m tempted myself, but I found that regurgitating this background information (however fascinating) was a bit too easy, not to mention overdone. When I finally approached this member of classic royalty, it was the re-experience itself that was on the tempting edge of indescribable.

Experiencing a movie at the San Francisco Symphony has been one of my favorite annual events in the Bay Area. These talented musicians provide the score for a well-known film as it plays on a large screen above them, and each time I find myself enjoying a film more than I already did. Failure to recall anything I was supposed to learn in Music Appreciation 101 has limited my knowledge a bit, but when I’m happily forced to pay attention to the music of a film, a new form of appreciation emerges. It’s amazing how much I learn about something when I’m not being tested on it! The first time I fell in love with this unique combination of film and music was when they performed the blustery score of The Wizard of Oz, a production I assumed would remain unbeatable. A year later, however, the symphony checked itself into the Bates Motel and Bernard Herrmann’s piercingly musical showers. Hitchcock’s Psycho at the San Francisco Symphony was more-than-qualified competition for the sounds of Oz‘s cyclone and wicked skywriting.


The Warner Bros. logo and theme music has welcomed me into a number of Bogie’s films, but I jest you not . . . when the San Francisco Symphony played it right in front of my eyes and ears, I could have left then and there with plenty to brag about the next day. But no one walks out on Bogie or Bergman! I had to see if they were going to add a piano for this performance and stand in for Sam, the café’s nightly entertainer. Fedoras off to the symphony for stepping back and instead allowing Ingrid Bergman to conduct Sam’s original piano playing to her liking. Understandably three-time Oscar winner Max Steiner created a score for Casablanca that is more subtle than, say, a savage cyclone or a shower slaughter. Despite how upset I get when the beautiful Ingrid Bergman emerges from the car in her “she’s-getting-on-the-plane” hat, Casablanca at the symphony was a wonderful and relaxing experience . . . well, for the most part.

Woody Allen’s character in Annie Hall (1977) doesn’t know how lucky he is to just stand in line near a jabbering nincompoop — at least when he goes into the theatre he can sit as far from that guy as possible. Unfortunately I found myself next to one of those guys with an elbow-patched jacket who just walked out of Art Garfunkel’s hair salon. My dear sir, you don’t need to say the line along with the characters . . . you can think the lines as loudly as you’d like, but out of respect for Bogie, Bergman, and those sitting around you, kindly set up a roadblock somewhere between your mind and your mouth. Let’s commit it to memory and get it right, shall we? “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world . . . she walks into mine.” It’s not a line that one should blunder, mister!

Luckily Mom switched seats with me at intermission and shushed Mr. Elbow Patch not once but twice. A few seconds before Rick and Louis affirmed the beginning of their beautiful friendship, Mom gave this gabby guy her “don’t-even-think-about-it” look that hushed him right up. Delivering the line along with Humphrey Bogart is bad enough, sir, since you’ve now run the risk of your date comparing you to Bogie — I can guarantee she’ll ditch you immediately, and your night won’t amount to a hill of beans! The only form of audience participation I found acceptable was when two folks stood up during the singing of “La Marseillaise.” Since they were in the balcony and therefore not blocking anyone’s view, I’ll refrain from sending Mom over.

One paragraph or one thousand, I’ve yet to find a piece of writing that does justice to this untouchable film. Small screen or silver screen, surround sound or symphony, all I can say is play it . . . play Casablanca.

Academy Awards for Casablanca (1944): Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Writing (Screenplay)

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Three years ago Mom bought a basket full of classic movies at an auction . . . why is wasn’t the confetti-cannoned grand finale of the evening, I’ll never understand. Along with A Streetcar Named Desire, Rebel Without a Cause, and Citizen Kane (which truthfully I never enjoyed), one of the many Mom passed on to me was The Maltese Falcon. Already an easily made fan of Bogie’s, I had just seen Mary Astor opposite Bette Davis in The Great Lie (1941). Never had I suspected someone could steal scenes from the dynamite Davis, but not only did Mary Astor pull it off, she also won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Surely there were later reports of Bette Davis purposely holding back to help Miss Astor’s career . . . what a good sport, that one! But even with an old love for Bogie and new love for Mary Astor, I fell asleep every time I sat down to watch The Maltese Falcon. Recently I made it all the way to the end, and it only took me three years.

Based on the 1930 detective novel by Dashiell Hammett (who worked seven years for a detective agency), The Maltese Falcon follows Sam Spade (Bogie) and his film noir pals on their hunt for a valuable jewel-encrusted statue. With its twists and turns and tobacco, the first film directed by the legendary John Huston follows the comforting and familiar formula of its time. Along with a mink or two, Mary Astor wraps the femme fatale role effortlessly around her shoulders, jamming Bogie and me somewhere between “I love her” and “I suspect her.” The deep, confident voice of Mr. Lauren Bacall makes my ears smile. Humphrey Bogart’s characters rarely have road blocks between mind and mouth, and Sam Spade is no exception. Since The Maltese Falcon is often used as the definition of “mystery” or “detective fiction,” I’ll hold myself back from revealing much of its plot . . . instead I’ll tip my fedora once again to Bogie.

In the Upper Haight of San Francisco there’s a small pizza/burger joint that, although it’s nothing to write home about, I find myself in whenever I’m in the neighborhood. Incredibly contrary to my genetic material, I happen to be a very easy-going diner — I never send food back, my patience outlasts many of my companions, and the staff can seat me almost anywhere that’s available. When it comes to this pizza place in Haight, however, I find myself overwhelmingly particular about where I sit. On the wall behind the register they’ve placed a framed picture of Bogie that I refuse to let out of my sight. Sitting elsewhere would simply be an infraction of the rules, and any form of questioning is, well, out of the question.

If nothing else, Bogie taught me that these unbreakable rules we set up for ourselves are the only ones worth following. I guess they’re the stuff that dreams are made of . . .

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In one of my earlier posts, my subconscious stumbled upon the phrase “special tickle spot” while I was writing about The Heiress. It was the perfect description of how a movie line (and its delivery) could let loose my stomach butterflies that remain caged for the majority of the day. When I came across this photo, once again my butterflies and I couldn’t resist sharing that tickle spot that’s become so special . . .

This weekend I watched How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) for the first time and I fell in love, once again, with Lauren Bacall. Alongside Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable, she continues her hunt through New York City for the perfect “Mr. Cadillac,” a delicious label for any wealthy man. When Miss Bacall’s character mentions that she loves older men, referencing “that what’s-his-name in The African Queen,” I could not stop laughing at this nod to her real-life husband, Humphrey Bogart. When it comes to these wonderful old films, I don’t usually expect small cracks in the fourth wall . . . hidden treasures when you stumble upon ’em, and this one definitely took me by surprise!

Later when I was chatting with Dad about this film, naturally the conversation shifted to Miss Marilyn Monroe, my Uncle Howie’s amazing portrait of her, and the universe’s ever shifting definition of beauty. Because of my uncle’s fascinating picture that still hangs in my apartment, apparently I’ve developed a darker vision of Marilyn — I found that the airy voice of the bubbly blonde bombshell was actually a bit of a curveball. But then again . . . what a nice, uplifting surprise it is when I see the smile, wink, and beauty mark that, for me, remain hidden under a collage of so many other faces.

While chatting away with Dad, he asked me if I had read Maureen Dowd’s latest article in The New York Times on Marilyn Monroe. I encourage you all, beloved readers, to take a look at Ms. Dowd’s short piece and discover why Arthur Miller once called Marilyn “a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd pulling at her clothes.” And certainly if you happen across How to Marry a Millionaire, pop yourself some corn, forget about all the face-wearing that took up your day, and enjoy a little escape with the girls . . .

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If no one wore a hat like Spencer Tracy, I’ll lay down a similar hand cards by saying that no one held a gun like Humphrey Bogart. The first time I saw Dark Passage, I wasn’t sure how much I liked the third film Bogie and Bacall made together. I classified it as many critics had after its release — good, but not great. I can understand their points of view, as some audiences were unhappy with the fact that they did not see Bogie’s face until an hour into the movie. Filmed in what I imagine was venturesome at the time, the first half of Dark Passage is shot almost completely from Bogie’s point of view, possibly affecting those of his critics. I’ve probably seen other Bogie and Bacall films in my life, but this was the first of which I had a clear memory, and although I didn’t know how I felt about it at the time, now it finds its way into my DVD player two or three times a month.

Dark Passage follows Bogie’s Vincent Parry, a convict who escapes from San Quentin in the film’s opening scene. Always willing to lend him a hand, Miss Lauren Bacall, in all her gorgeousness, enters as Irene Jansen, an artist who begins to help Vincent for reasons unknown. She hides him in her apartment, buys him new clothes (including a hat, of course!), and even nurses him back to health after he undergoes plastic surgery. Because the first half is filmed from his point of view, we are truly in Vincent’s head, and although I’m thrilled to see one of my favorite actresses, I don’t trust Miss Bacall right away. What’s more enjoyable than a femme fatale? Very little, I feel, except perhaps a potential femme fatale. “Lie still, hold your breath, cross your fingers” is what she tells him as she smuggles him across the Golden Gate Bridge. What a voice! 

Because we’re experiencing it all through Vincent’s eyes, it’s easy to fall for Bacall along with him. Since I wasn’t quite sure of from where her character’s generosity stems, that element of danger only heightens that thrill reserved specifically for film noir. That glimpse of Irene through Vincent’s eyes also gives us a peek at Bacall through Bogie’s eyes; a bit of that truth of which I’m so fond! At first I wondered what kind of gamble was made when the studio decided on this filming technique. From what I’ve heard, the idea of not seeing Mr. Bogart’s face for half of the film did not thrill Jack Warner of Warner Brothers, but they were too far into filming to turn back. Tagging along in Vincent’s head reminds me of the Choose Your Own Adventure books from good ol’ childhood. The concept of control — mixed with a complete lack of it — draws me into a film that the majority seems to consider pretty mediocre.

Far from mediocre is the always-enjoyable Miss Agnes Moorehead. If that “how do I know that name” light is flashing in your head, just add about a pound of eye makeup to the above photo, and soon you’ll see of my favorite characters (and names) staring back at you. Best remembered as Endora, Samantha’s mother on Bewitched, Miss Moorehead always had that X-factor found only in a handful of actors and actresses. It’s more than just a witchable… sorry, watchable quality; it’s that unspoken effort that goes into making something look so effortless. Madge Rapf, Miss Moorehead’s character in Dark Passage, certainly is not the most likeable of women — she’s that person in your group of friends whom nobody really likes or wants around, and yet somehow she’s always there. You know, the type who wears leopard print but doesn’t have the personality to pull it off, although she’s convinced herself that she does. While her character may not succeed with the leopard print, Miss Moorehead certainly succeeds in pulling off “not pulling it off.” She’s an added bonus to the film, and surely Bogie and Bacall deserve nothing less than stellar from their supporting cast.

To me, Dark Passage is such a “movie.” Watching it is like watching the birth of film clichés, left and right, which I understand may not appeal to some viewers whose eyes roll with little effort. Vincent keeps getting lucky in his unlucky situation, flying under the radar with the help not only of Irene but also with assistance from a plastic surgeon. As soon as he wakes up with his face covered in bandages, we’re finally out of his head and become more of a viewer than a participant. At this point, I feel like I’m now in everyone else’s head, watching Vincent and trying to predict his next move. All I know for sure is that eventually Bogie will point a gun at someone. This movie also treats me to some of my classic film favorites — filmed mostly on location in San Francisco, it has some beautiful scenes of the city and its bridges. One little gem is a “One Way” street sign that is bordered completely with light bulbs. Behind it is a sign for a parking lot that costs 25 cents for the day. And so integral to the plot is Irene’s phonograph, a word that is just as soothing to me as the imagined sound it produces.

Part of me assumed that after riding around in his character’s head for an hour, Bogie would be less intimidating when he finally gets a revolver in his hand. Nope, I should have known better — when that hat and gun team up with that deep voice of his, who wouldn’t feel a bit unnerved? Well, probably not Miss Bette Davis (as reports go from the set of The Petrified Forest), but the rest of us fall victim to an avalanche of emotions when that gun molds itself to Bogie’s hand. Frightened, excited, relieved, worried, and yes indeed, intimidated. Bogie is as confident with that gun as Bacall is when she gives that look of hers, both weapons able to level anything in their paths. But it’s not just the gun, the hat, or the look that draws me happily into the world of Bogie and Bacall. Finding truth within fantasy is a bit easier with an off-screen couple, since the chemistry is almost always there from the opening scene. Bogie, Bacall, and Dark Passage prove this point to me every time.

Some movie couples aren’t always so natural, and sometimes that’s precisely why their film works so well . . .

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