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« WEDNESDAYS WITH DENISE: November 29, 2023 | Main | Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God [by Jonathan Edwards] »

November 29, 2023


Enjoyed this -- thanks. Love those last lines of Bogart's.

Thanks for your comment, Susan.

We sometimes forget that some landmark Hollywood films seem to predict the future while others, equally good in their way, sum up the past. 'Falcon' is more the second kind while 'Citizen Kane,' same year, 1941, is more the first. 'Falcon' is a sleek summation of some of what H'Wood did best: tight script, ensemble acting, filmed play (especially in last third, in Spade's apartment); even Spade's edginess took into account that he mostly used to play cowardly heavies in the '30s. Gregg Toland's innovations in camera work have been exhaustively analyzed, but it's hard to imagine all that followed 'Kane' not being influenced. Mary Astor was the third incarnation of Hammett's ff after two previous filmings of the 'Falcon' material; and though she was 'unsuccessful' most of the 'bad' girls came to bad ends: Claire Trevor in 'Murder, My Sweet' (maybe the bff); Jane Greer in 'Out of the Past'; Gaby Rodgers in 'Kiss Me Deadly'; Barbara Stanwyck, Gloria Grahame, a hundred others. And what do you do with sweet Jean Wallace in 'The Big Combo'? Director Joseph H. Lewis's comments on what Richard Conte was doing while he was kneeling behind Jean, with the camera fixed on her expression, are very interesting, especially as they pertains to what 'badness' Ms. Wallace was guilty of. And speaking of the split between detective story/noir story, 'Combo' is especially relevant since it's as noir as you can get, but structurally it's a detective story. 'Falcon' is slick, sleek, brilliant Hollywood entertainment, and 'Out of the Past,' 'The Big Combo,' 'Kiss Me Deadly,' et al, are disemboweling.

Have a great time at the December 5 panel--it sounds wonderful. And what a great group to discuss all this stuff!

Thank you, Jim, for the terrific comment.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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