Yesterday was, I know, not the type of post you expect here. It’s Saturday. Let’s smile.
Okay, I want you to name a classic film….
…No, no, hang on, not that one. Come on, I mean the title is right there! What kind of “challenge” is that?
And how is everyone feeling today?:
There are no “amateurs” among my followers, I’m sure!🙂
Last weekend, I searched British TV in vain for a Humphrey Bogart film. I was simply in the mood, and was depressed when I couldn’t find one. Naturally, I informed (as one does nowadays) everyone on the planet who happened to be reading Twitter.
It is in the public domain, so you may watch it guilt free. Bogart’s production company held the copyright, but allowed it to lapse. It’s his only film that’s outside copyright.
The other day, I’d been writing a scene where a vague (or, if you know it, not so vague) reference is made to a landmark 1941 “private eye” film. That I’d had been doing that is a large part of the reason the actor who’d starred in it was in my mind as I’d also written the other day about Kate Colby’s post. Yes, the jumble that often constitutes our human “thought processes.”
This morning I decided I’d have a quick look at YouTube to see what’s on there of that film. I couldn’t believe it. I found this gem: that Maltese Falcon film, cut to exactly 7 minutes’ length:
This extract does not do this Kate Colby post full justice. However, an extract of hers rarely does. Click over: she always makes us think, so it is worth reading in its entirety:
…I’ve spent several sleepless nights reading and re-reading the perfectly poetic prose of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. I’ve spent many an afternoon curled up in my windowsill with Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. I’ve spent countless evenings imagining myself a faceless extra, one of the glamorous flappers dancing in a party from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby…
…What if that one book is all I get from that author? What if the next is an utter disappointment, undeniable proof that my beloved novel is a fluke? What if I read a chapter, a paragraph, a sentence only to discover that the author I thought understood me at the deepest level is a hack, a con artist, who knows nothing of human nature?
And what if, when I am a published author, this happens to one of my readers?…
Of those authors, I know Fitzgerald best. The Great Gatsby is, by consensus of opinion nowadays, his “masterpiece.” Although his output over his career is uneven, he’s written much else that is satisfying.
Saturday morning poignant film trivia:
If you visit regularly, you well-know I’m a huge Bogart fan. Films don’t really get better than that one. Not that I’m “biased” or anything, of course.
Also, I am greatly flattered that the Bogart Estate follows me – Me! – on Twitter. His son, Stephen Bogart, occasionally tweets there. Amazing, “social media” today, isn’t it?🙂
Having finished the sequel’s story, to clear my head for a few days before plunging into revision, corrections, etc., I’ve decided on some, uh, relaxing reading:
That biography of Humphrey Bogart was a birthday present from my mother-in-law. She knows Bogart is my favo(u)rite actor. Technical assistance in making the purchase was provided by my wife: her mother barely knows what the internet is, much less how to use it.😉
About Bogart’s now by far best-known role, and his taking Hollywood by storm after over a decade of mostly second-rate (and often third-rate) parts, author Stefan Kanfer eloquently sums up on page 87:
….Rick Blaine was not just the fulcrum of a melodramatic movie. He was a symbol of the nation itself, at first wary and isolationist, then changing incrementally until he headed in the opposite direction. At the finale Rick Blaine had turned into a warrior. That was the way moviegoers, especially male moviegoers, saw themselves in 1943. That year they did the most unlikely, and unrepeatable thing in the history of American cinema. They made Casablanca a smash, which was not unexpected. But they also made the middle-aged, creased, scarred, lisping Humphrey Bogart into a superstar. No one expected that. Not even Humphrey Bogart. Especially not Humphrey Bogart.
From the profound to the decidedly less so. Here’s a distinctly lesser-known quote from Bogart himself, which appears on page 12. Years afterward, he recalled his own “lofty” eighteen year old’s motives for enlisting in the U.S. Navy in May 1918, during World War One:
The war was great stuff. Paris! French girls! Hot damn!
Hardly “Lafayette, we are here.” But that was how he saw the world in 1918. Clearly, by 1941, a more world-weary Bogart as Richard Blaine – having, as we know, previously fought in Spain and in Ethiopia for what had proven to be ultimately the losing sides (“and been well paid for it on both occasions,” as he also informed us) – was not nearly as easily wowed:
Yvonne: Where were you last night?
Rick: That’s so long ago, I don’t remember.
Yvonne: Will I see you tonight?
Rick: I never make plans that far ahead.
Which is how we will always see him. He is Bogart on film, playing “Humphrey Bogart” in a variety of roles. It’s difficult for us to imagine the perpetually “middle-aged, creased, scarred, lisping” superstar ever having been eighteen and so immature.
Have a good Sunday. Kanfer’s book is excellent. So, today, for me, it’s back to more Bogart.🙂
We discussed TV drama – specifically mumbling – yesterday. By coincidence, how about this gem from “The Department of You Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up”:
[Mother-in-law proceeds to call her sister.]
[Wife and father-in-law both erupt in laughter.]
Yes, seriously. I’m still laughing too. Call it, “I can name that actor in, uh, three notes….”