Tag: Humphrey Bogart

MOVIE REVIEW | ***B&D SATURDAY FLASHBACK*** Sabrina (1954)

Sabrina poster
And so I stumble across another Billy Wilder picture that I had no idea was a Billy Wilder picture until his name popped up on the screen.  It turns out this dude churned out a lot of movies that have stayed pretty famous and kept good reputations 60 odd years later.  And of all his movies that I’ve seen, Sabrina definitely falls more on the side of things like The Seven Year Itch than something like The Lost Weekend.

So, Humphrey Bogart, the original hard boiled PI and king of film noir.  The ruthless gangster of more than one James Cagney movie.  The greed infected killer of The Treasures of the Sierra Madre…  Not exactly the guy you expect to see in a love triangle fuelled, romantic comedy romp.  But here is, none the less.

One half of pair of brothers with William Holden, the two are described in the opening voiceover with Bogart, “Linus Larrabee, the elder son, graduated from Yale, where his classmates voted him The Man Most Likely to Leave His Alma Mater Fifty Million Dollars. His brother, David (Holden), went through several of the best eastern colleges for short periods of time, and through several marriages for even shorter periods of time. He is now a successful six-goal polo player and is listed on Linus’s tax return as a six hundred dollar deduction.

While they grew up in luxury, their chauffer’s daughter, the titular Sabrina, played by Audrey Hepburn, grew up in love with their life and in love with David.  After a couple of years in France, Sabrina returns grown up enough to finally be noticed by David.  Hepburn really is one of the only actresses who could ever play a part like this.  When David declares his love almost immediately after her return, and when every man at a party stops dead in their tracks on her arrival, it never seems far fetched.  If any women in the history of Hollywood could have that effect, it’s Audrey Hepburn.

David’s infatuation with Sabrina threatens to destroy a $20million business merger, so Linus decides to intervene and stop the two from hooking up.  And you’ll never guess, but Linus falls in love with her too.

With almost six decades of terrible rom coms in its wake bastardising so much of movies like Sabrina, no one is going to be surprised by the ending and the path it takes to get there, but it’s how the movie delivers these now old standard devices that makes it work.  The comic relief of the Larrabees hen pecked father works every time, the growing attraction between Bogart and Hepburn is totally believable and the schmaltz is never too on the nose.

Really, with two of Hollywood’s greatest screen presences in Bogart and Hepburn (plus Holden isn’t too bad either), and one of the greatest directors of all time, I shouldn’t be surprised by how good Sabrina is, but it really did take me off guard.  I just never expected anything that could be described as a rom com to be this watchable.

(Review originally posted Dec 19, 2013)

Sabrina
Directed By – Billy Wilder
Written By – Billy Wilder, Samuel A Taylor, Ernest Lehman

MOVIE REVIEW | ***SUNDAY FLASHBACK*** Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “A little ham fisted and predictable.”

angelswith

There’s a reason some actors stay famous long after they’re dead.  Sometimes you might not know them by name or even when you see them, but you’ve subconsciously been taught their mannerisms, catch phrases, quirks and ticks trough constant pop culture references, bad impressions and parodies.  Jimmy Cagney is one of those dudes.  His signature performances all happened around four decades before I was born, bit his name, and more prominently, his schtick, are very familiar.  Through Bugs Bunny cartoons and even the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action movie (‘coz you know what kids of the 80s loved? References to movie gangsters of the 30s) I knew who the “you dirty rat” guy was.  What I didn’t know why was why I knew who he was all these years later.   Watching Angles With Dirty Faces showed me why.

Like Humphrey Bogart, James Stewart and Kathryn Hepburn, Cagney just has a persona and charisma that are too big and entertaining to be forgotten.  And in the case of Angles With Dirty Faces, he thankfully has a persona and charisma big enough and entertaining enough to make up for a pretty half assed, predictable movie.

James Cagney is Rocky Sullivan, as a street hood kid, he robs a train with his best mate Jerry Connolly, played by Pat O’Brien.  Rocky gets caught, goes to reform school and grows up to be a noted gangster, constantly in and out of prison.  Jerry grows up to be the neighbourhood priest.  After his most recent stint in the can, Rocky gets out expecting $100,000 and a full partnership in the rackets with his lawyer, Humphrey Bogart’s Jim Frazier.  Bogie’s got new business partners and an aversion to giving Cagney the 100k, so shit has to go down.  But before shit can reach critical go downery, Cagney’s Rocky befriends the new generation of street hood kids who spend the rest of the movie torn between mentors, the gangster Rocky, or the priest Jerry.

Angles With Dirty Faces is a little ham fisted and predictable, but most of that is easy to look past.  It only really hits a wall in the last scene or two when the notorious Production Code kicks in.  You see, back in the day, the Production Code made it basically illegal for a movie to show bad guys getting away with anything.  Angels With Dirty Faces tries to have it both ways.  Rocky is clearly the hero and we’re on his side the whole way has he shoots and kidnaps his way to victory.  Then, with maybe ten minutes left to go, the film makers remember they’d better stick to the code if they want move released, so they jarringly cut to a more morally acceptable conclusion for Rocky Sullivan.

Tacked on ending aside, it’s a more than entertaining movie with Cagney and Bogart adding plenty of awesome anytime they’re on screen.  But the best thing about Angles With Dirty Faces came a year later.  It’s like someone decided to keep the good bits (Cagney, Bogart, gangsters and guns), leave out the bad bits (the kids, the shoehorned in morals, the love story that goes nowhere) and remake it as 1939’s The Roaring Twenties.  Now that’s a Cagney / Bogart gangster picture really worth seeing.

(Review originally posted Aug 13, 2013)

Angles With Dirty Faces
Directed By – Michael Curtiz
Written By – John Wexley, Warren Duff

Other Opinions Are Available.  What did these people have to say about Angels With Dirty Faces?
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Bogie Film Blog

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #3. Casablanca (1942)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

Casablanca

“You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we’ll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.”

I remember the first time I saw Casablanca. All I could think was, I get it. I get why this movie is still so well known, heavily referenced and so firmly in the zeitgeist more than half a century after its release. I get why Humphrey Bogart is someone I’ve recognised my entire life, even though he died almost 30 years before I was born. I think I’d seen most of The Maltese Falcon on telly once as a kid, but Casablanca was the one that really sealed the deal in making me realise Bogart’s name in the credits was reason enough to watch absolutely anything. Watching Casablanca today for this AFI countdown, is the third time I’ve seen the movie. And none of that initial awe has worn off in those three viewings.


It’s 1941, and as Nazi occupation spreads across Europe, the African city of Casablanca becomes a heavily trafficked port for refugees trying to escape Hitler’s control and make their way to the neutral United States. This kind of passage requires knowing the right people who can help subvert official channels. People like Rick Blaine (Bogart). A former gun runner and mercenary, he now runs a nightclub in the titular city where back room deals go down. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Big Sleep (1946)

Big Sleep 1

“Speaking of horses, I like to play them myself. But I like to see them workout a little first, see if they’re front runners or come from behind, find out what their whole card is, what makes them run.”

Over the last 70 odd years, the idea of film noir and the hard boiled private dick has been invented, reinvented, subverted and post-modernised more than a few times over.  From the original black and white days of stone faced men, to the slacker 70s vibe of Elliot Gould in The Long Goodbye, to the slacker 90s vibe of Jeff Bridges of The Big Lebowski, to the slacker new millennium vibe of Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice.  But after all these years and all these different iterations, I feel like the original is still the most iconic and recognisable.  The original being Humphrey Bogart, in movies like The Big Sleep.


Now, the plot of The Big Sleep is notoriously convoluted, and even according to the screenwriter and director, has several plot holes that may melt your brain if you try to fill them in.  So I’m not gonna even attempt to set it up in my own words.  Instead, I’ll rely on a few choice lines from the good people at Wikipedia. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #31. The Maltese Falcon (1941)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

maltese-falcon-by-content-artofmanlinessdotcomw499h371 

“Keep on riding me and they’re gonna be picking iron out of your liver.”

Over its century or so of existence, film has created a few genres that are personified by specific character archetypes and one or two particular actors who made those archetypes their own.  The classic western had John Wayne, while the neo western had Clint Eastwood.  The 80s action movie had Arnold Schwarzenegger.   The earliest romantic screwball comedies were all about the flighty and infuriating, but charming and endearing whirlwind that was Katherine Hepburn.  When it comes to the film noir gumshoe, there’s one name that instantly takes the title.  Humphrey Bogart.  And one of the movies most responsible for that reputation is, The Maltese Falcon.


As the opening title crawl says, “In 1539 the Knight Templars of Malta, paid tribute to Charles V of Spain, by sending him a Golden Falcon encrusted from beak to claw with rarest jewels—but pirates seized the galley carrying this priceless token and the fate of the Maltese Falcon remains a mystery to this day”.  Cut to present day (1941) San Francisco, and private eye Sam Spade (Bogart) receives a visit from Ruth Wonderly (Mary Astor).  Her sister ran off with a man named Thursby, and Ruth wants Sam, and his partner Archer (Jerome Cowan), to find them. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #38. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

600full-the-treasure-of-the-sierra-madre-photo

“I think I’ll go to sleep and dream about piles of gold getting bigger and bigger and bigger.”

When it comes to all time classic movies, you have the ones everyone knows about.  Even if you’ve never seen Citizen Cane, or The Wizard of Oz, or Gone With the Wind.  Even if you have no intention of ever seeing them, you know they exist and probably know one or two things about the cast, or plot, or have some inkling about why it’s a classic.  Then, just below that surface, are the classics that movie nerds and snobs seem to love.


I’d never heard of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre until a few years ago when I watched it for a uni assignment.  But ever since then, I see the title pop constantly in best of lists, and more often, when great directors and actors are talking the movies that inspired them.  I’ve watched it annually since that discovery a few years ago, and each time, all I can think of is, why isn’t The Treasure of the Sierra Madre a public knowledge classic like Citizen Cane, or The Wizard of Oz, or Gone With the Wind. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Dark Victory (1939)

darkvictory-quad

“I want you to have a party and be gay. Very, very gay!”

The concept of Oscar Bait is something I would have thought is only a couple of decades old at the most.  Period movies where people get to wear lavish costumes and speak with toffy English accents.  Movies about death at the hands of Nazis or cancer.  Biopics about tragic and famous real life people.  That sort of thing often gets accused of being cynical Oscar Bait, then those sorts of movies often win Oscars and the cycle is perpetuated.  But like I said, I thought it was kind of a modern idea.  So bugger me if I didn’t stumble across some real in your face Academy Award pandering in a movie almost as old as the Academy Awards themselves, Dark Victory.


The only daughter of a dead millionaire and sports enthusiast, Judith (Bette Davis) is whatever you call a female version of a playboy (playgirl doesn’t sound right).  Her days are filled dealing with her horse trainer (Humphrey Bogart) and fussing over her stable of expensive steeple chasers.  While her nights are occupied hosting lavish parties. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #65. The African Queen (1951)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
 African Queen
“Well I ain’t sorry for you no more, ya crazy, psalm-singing, skinny old maid!”

Great pairings of legendary actors are almost always a reason to see a movie.  Even if the story and direction aren’t that great, seeing two heavy weights go toe to toe is pretty much guaranteed to be worth your time.  And that is the main reason I was pumped to see The African Queen.  It’s reputation as a classic isn’t as strong as a lot of movies on this countdown, but the combination of Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn is hard to not get excited about.


It’s the First World War, only Rose (Hepburn) and her husband don’t know it yet.  It takes a while for news to reach their isolated African plantation.  And when it does arrive, it’s via the African Queen, a dilapidated old riverboat, captained by a dilapidated old booze hound named Charlie (Bogart).  When the Great War does make its way into Rose’s world, her husband dies of a heart attack and she has nowhere to turn, until Charlie arrives in the African Queen. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***SWANSONG WEEK*** The Harder They Fall (1956)

Harder

“The fight game today is like show business. There’s no real fighters anymore, they’re all actors. The best showman becomes the champ!”

Humphrey Bogart died almost 60 years ago.  Humphrey Bogart is still one of the most recognisable names, faces and voices in Hollywood history.  That says a lot about how good, how unique and enduring the work for Humphrey Bogart is.  While his most famous role will probably always be Rick Blaine in Casablanca, with other titles like The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The Maltese Falcon getting the critical and movie nerd cudos, I knew I needed to see more than just those career surface scratches.  So I’ve gone to where Bogey ended, with his last movie, The Harder They Fall.  


It’s the late 40s and professional boxing is about as legit as wrestling is today.  Crooked boxing promoter, Nick Benko (Roy Steiger) hires down on his luck and recently unemployed sports writer, Eddie Willis (Bogart) to be the spin doctor and press agent for his latest find, a South American giant named Toro Moreno (Mike Lane).  Toro looks like a monster, but he can’t fight his way out of a wet paper bag.  But that’s the not the kind of thing that could stop someone going all they in this world.  Especially when there’s enough dirty money behind them to have each and every opponent take a dive. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Sabrina (1954)

Sabrina poster
And so I stumble across another Billy Wilder picture that I had no idea was a Billy Wilder picture until his name popped up on the screen.  It turns out this dude churned out a lot of movies that have stayed pretty famous and kept good reputations 60 odd years later.  And of all his movies that I’ve seen, Sabrina definitely falls more on the side of things like The Seven Year Itch than something like The Lost Weekend.

So, Humphrey Bogart, the original hard boiled PI and king of film noir.  The ruthless gangster of more than one James Cagney movie.  The greed infected killer of The Treasures of the Sierra Madre…  Not exactly the guy you expect to see in a love triangle fuelled, romantic comedy romp.  But here is, none the less.

One half of pair of brothers with William Holden, the two are described in the opening voiceover with Bogart, “Linus Larrabee, the elder son, graduated from Yale, where his classmates voted him The Man Most Likely to Leave His Alma Mater Fifty Million Dollars. His brother, David (Holden), went through several of the best eastern colleges for short periods of time, and through several marriages for even shorter periods of time. He is now a successful six-goal polo player and is listed on Linus’s tax return as a six hundred dollar deduction.

While they grew up in luxury, their chauffer’s daughter, the titular Sabrina, played by Audrey Hepburn, grew up in love with their life and in love with David.  After a couple of years in France, Sabrina returns grown up enough to finally be noticed by David.  Hepburn really is one of the only actresses who could ever play a part like this.  When David declares his love almost immediately after her return, and when every man at a party stops dead in their tracks on her arrival, it never seems far fetched.  If any women in the history of Hollywood could have that effect, it’s Audrey Hepburn.

David’s infatuation with Sabrina threatens to destroy a $20million business merger, so Linus decides to intervene and stop the two from hooking up.  And you’ll never guess, but Linus falls in love with her too.

With almost six decades of terrible rom coms in its wake bastardising so much of movies like Sabrina, no one is going to be surprised by the ending and the path it takes to get there, but it’s how the movie delivers these now old standard devices that makes it work.  The comic relief of the Larrabees hen pecked father works every time, the growing attraction between Bogart and Hepburn is totally believable and the schmaltz is never too on the nose.

Really, with two of Hollywood’s greatest screen presences in Bogart and Hepburn (plus Holden isn’t too bad either), and one of the greatest directors of all time, I shouldn’t be surprised by how good Sabrina is, but it really did take me off guard.  I just never expected anything that could be described as a rom com to be this watchable.

Sabrina
Directed By – Billy Wilder
Written By – Billy Wilder, Samuel A Taylor, Ernest Lehman

MOVIE REVIEW | Road to Bali (1952)

Bing Crosby - Road to Bali

Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, another great comic duo from history that I’d only ever heard about, never actually seen, until now.  Road to Bali is the sixth in their Road to… series and while most franchises are really struggling this far intro a series (Police Academy 6: City Under Siege being an obvious exception to the rule), Road to Bali is really funny.


As far as I know, the Road to… movies don’t follow on from each other, they just seem to be an excuse to put a tried and tested comedy double in an exotic location and see what happens.  Which actually works pretty well here.  Bob and Bing begin their adventure performing vaudeville in Melbourne.  After winning the hearts of a couple of local girls, they have to flee the girls’ fathers who think Bob and Bing should make honest women of their daughters.  Fun fact, the super shitty Australian accents in 1952 are actually better than the super, super shitty Australian accents Pacific Rim served up more than sixty years later.

They flee to Darwin where their final escape requires taking jobs as deep sea divers for a shifty islander promising them a tropical paradise off the coast of Bali.  Or as the Americans frustratingly say for the entire movie “Balley” (rhymes with “alley”).  There, they meet the shifty islander’s cousin, played by Dorothy Lamour.  The rest of the movie is Bob and Bing competing for her affection while helping her defeat her evil, shifty cousin.  Like a lot of these old comedy team movies, the story seems to be a loose frame work for them to recreate sketches they’d already used on stage.  Unlike a lot of these old comedy team movies, Road to Bali actually makes them work.

Road to Bali is very meta.  It seems like no more than few minutes go past without the movie acknowledging the fact that it’s a movie.  Hope especially breaks the fourth wall constantly to deliver some of the movies funniest lines.  Bing gets in on the talking-to-camera action a couple of times, but it really is a schtick owned by Hope.  Even right up until the end when Hope frantically tries to shoo the “The End” titles off the screen because he’s not happy with his character’s not so happy ending.  Road to Bali also has a couples of great cameos.  Humphrey Bogart’s is one of the cleverest uses of a cameo for a joke I can remember seeing.  And the appearance of Jane Russel, Hope’s crazy hot co-star from Son of Pale Face, is awesomely self referential as well.

Knowing that this is so far into the series, Road to Bali definitely makes me want to see more Road to movies and more Bob Hope in general.  Ever since I read a Woody Allen biography in which Allen talks about his admiration for (and blatant ripping off of) Bob Hope, l I’ve been meaning to see what all the fuss is about.  Now I know, Bob Hope was an amazing comedy actor and I really want to see more.

Road to Bali Watch the full movie, streaming for free HERE
Directed By – Hal Walker
Written By – Frank Butler, Hal Kanter, William Morrow

MOVIE REVIEW | Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)

angelswith

There’s a reason some actors stay famous long after they’re dead.  Sometimes you might not know them by name or even when you see them, but you’ve subconsciously been taught their mannerisms, catch phrases, quirks and ticks trough constant pop culture references, bad impressions and parodies.  Jimmy Cagney is one of those dudes.  His signature performances all happened around four decades before I was born, bit his name, and more prominently, his schtick, are very familiar.  Through Bugs Bunny cartoons and even the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action movie (‘coz you know what kids of the 80s loved? References to movie gangsters of the 30s) I knew who the “you dirty rat” guy was.  What I didn’t know why was why I knew who he was all these years later.   Watching Angles With Dirty Faces showed me why.

Like Humphrey Bogart, James Stewart and Kathryn Hepburn, Cagney just has a persona and charisma that are too big and entertaining to be forgotten.  And in the case of Angles With Dirty Faces, he thankfully has a persona and charisma big enough and entertaining enough to make up for a pretty half assed, predictable movie.

James Cagney is Rocky Sullivan, as a street hood kid, he robs a train with his best mate Jerry Connolly, played by Pat O’Brien.  Rocky gets caught, goes to reform school and grows up to be a noted gangster, constantly in and out of prison.  Jerry grows up to be the neighbourhood priest.  After his most recent stint in the can, Rocky gets out expecting $100,000 and a full partnership in the rackets with his lawyer, Humphrey Bogart’s Jim Frazier.  Bogie’s got new business partners and an aversion to giving Cagney the 100k, so shit has to go down.  But before shit can reach critical go downery, Cagney’s Rocky befriends the new generation of street hood kids who spend the rest of the movie torn between mentors, the gangster Rocky, or the priest Jerry.

Angles With Dirty Faces is a little ham fisted and predictable, but most of that is easy to look past.  It only really hits a wall in the last scene or two when the notorious Production Code kicks in.  You see, back in the day, the Production Code made it basically illegal for a movie to show bad guys getting away with anything.  Angels With Dirty Faces tries to have it both ways.  Rocky is clearly the hero and we’re on his side the whole way has he shoots and kidnaps his way to victory.  Then, with maybe ten minutes left to go, the film makers remember they’d better stick to the code if they want move released, so they jarringly cut to a more morally acceptable conclusion for Rocky Sullivan.

Tacked on ending aside, it’s a more than entertaining movie with Cagney and Bogart adding plenty of awesome anytime they’re on screen.  But the best thing about Angles With Dirty Faces came a year later.  It’s like someone decided to keep the good bits (Cagney, Bogart, gangsters and guns), leave out the bad bits (the kids, the shoehorned in morals, the love story that goes nowhere) and remake it as 1939’s The Roaring Twenties.  Now that’s a Cagney / Bogart gangster picture really worth seeing.

Angles With Dirty Faces
Directed By – Michael Curtiz
Written By – John Wexley, Warren Duff