Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Noir 100 at the Brattle - A Rain Day, Double Feature, Noir Matinee

August has been a hectic month and I've been out of the loop of everything online that is classic film related. I've been MIA from this blog mostly because I've been spending every spare moment working on moving in with Carlos. I haven't had much time to ::gasp:: watch any movies or ::double gasp:: write about them. Carlos and I worked non-stop all day on a Saturday, Sunday and a Monday. By Tuesday we were exhausted (heck by Saturday evening we were exhausted) and even though there was so much more to do, we needed a break. We took all of last week off for the move but for the first half of the week it rained. And rained. And rained. Which made moving rather tricky. In fact by Wednesday, the heavens must have open the flood gates because it was just pouring buckets of water. We needed a break. Something to do that was NOT moving.

So what does one do for fun on a rainy weekday? Go to a mid-afternoon matinee noir double-feature at a repertory theatre of course! And what a luxury it was...

The first film on the bill was Murder, My Sweet (1944). To me, this movie and Double Indemnity (1944) have always been the two films from which the noir stereotype derives its main characteristics. All the key elements are there: a jaded man, a dangerous blonde, a sweet brunette, a convoluted plot and narrative voiceover. Murder, My Sweet is a decent film and enjoyable to watch but please don't try to follow the plot too closely. Also, don't worry too much about getting the character names and their individual straight. If you do, you won't enjoy the film. Just sit back, relax, munch on some popcorn and enjoy the ride.

Carlos hadn't seen this one before and when he asked me about the plot I made a valiant effort to try to explain it. However, my memory had escaped me and I ended up sounding like a dimwith. What I should have down was just shrug my shoulders and grunted out an "I don't know". If he were to have asked me the same question after the film, I probably should have done the same thing.

The second feature was The Big Sleep (1946). This one was a surprise as we were actually expecting to see Key Largo (1948), another Bogie-Bacall flick. I've always really enjoyed The Big Sleep and prefer it over Key Largo so I was very happy about the switch.

The thing I love the most about The Big Sleep is that the film is oozing with sexuality. If sexuality were a sauce, it would be dripping out the corner of your takeout box if you took this film to-go.

First of all there is the electric chemistry between Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. By the time of this film, Bogie and Bacall are already married but the passion hasn't died down at all. The way they look into each others' eyes, you expect them to rip off each other's clothes at any moment and start procreating right in front of you. Both Bogie and Bacall were so effortless in their movements. Each motion seemed sensual and sexual. Whether it was a smile, a firm grip on the arm, the smoking of a cigarette, it all screamed SEX.

Then there is delightfully young space cadet Carmen played by the luscious Martha Vickers. Watch her movements. She never seems to be able to stand upright on her own. It's as though her limbs don't function at full capacity. Carmen is always falling into a man's arms or into a chair or resting against a wall. However, these seem like temporary places for her to rest. It's as though her proper place should be lying prostrate on a bed! Besides, she's too high or drunk to notice what you are doing to her anyways, so have at it. If people only looked a little more closely at classic films, they would realize how blatantly sexual and scandalous they really were!

My favorite scene is the one in which Philip Marlowe (Bogart) walks into a bookstore across the street from the Geiger Used & Rare Bookshop (which doesn't actually sell any books) and asks the bookstore clerk for information about Geiger. They flirt like mad and they exchange some hot and heavy zingers.

Marlowe, when he notices that it's raining outside, "I'd rather get wet in here."

Marlowe offers the clerk some rye from a bottle in his pocket, she closes the front door, turns the sign from Open to Closed and she replies: "It looks like we're closed for the rest of the afternoon."

Hot damn! She takes off her glasses and lets down her hair and Marlowe replies with a "Hello!". I almost expect there to be a huge bolt of lightning and some thunder and for the camera to pan away while they make love on the bookstore floor. Alas, my dirty mind gets carried away with itself sometimes and things didn't quite work out that way. But good grief that was one sexy scene! Worth the $7.75 we paid for the double feature alone.


On days like this, I count my lucky stars that I have a place like the Brattle which shows quality films like these for discerning patrons like me. Next up, Kevin and I see The Sleeping City (1950). The last film in the Brattle's Noir 100 series.


  1. What a fantastic series! It must have been tempting to just quit your job and spend all of your savings sitting at the theater the last two months lol :D

    I think The Big Sleep plot always confuses me even more than Murder My Sweet, but you get so distracted by each individual scene being so darn good that you really don't care what the overall plot is anyway!

    btw I adore this line - "If sexuality were a sauce, it would be dripping out the corner of your takeout box if you took this film to-go."

  2. dont feel bad Kate, apparently not even Raymond Chandler could explain the plot to the Big Sleep and he wrote it, lol! it is truly one of those examples where style totally overpowered substance but it works so beautifully who cares? its a wild fun ride and what a treat that must have been on the big screen Quelle! one of my fave lines is what Bogie says after his first encounter with Martha Vickers, something like:

    "she tried to sit in my lap...while i was standing up"
    (its been a while, how close was i?)

    Quelle your description of her was perfect, but still cant top your sexuality sauce remark, i gotta remember that one!

    Murder My Sweet is also noteworthy imo as one of the strongest examples of an actor making a complete change in screen image. the contrast between Dick Powell's eternally smiling male ingeneue roles at WB and his gritty unshaven intepretation in MMS is severe to say the least! i cant really think of another actor or actress who made such a drastic change in image, can anyone else????

    pre-code to post-code Norma Shearer is close maybe? hmmmmm, ponder this, i will....

  3. Before anything else I have to say I envy you, Quelle, living so close to the Brattle! It is one of the many theatres I would like to go to one day!

    Anyway, Murder, My Sweet and The Big Sleep are my two favourite adaptations of Raymond Chandler's books. They are nearly perfect. And I love the fact that MMS has such a convoluted plot! If I remember correctly, even Raymond Chandler himself lost track of who committed one murder in the original novel (Farewell, My Lovely)!

  4. I have fond memories of seeing THE BIG SLEEP in a revival theater when I was a teen -- though I was too young to pick up on all the undercurrents you mentioned! I enjoyed your account of your evening and am glad you got to enjoy a fun break during a busy week!

    Best wishes,

  5. Very smart of you to take a movie break. I can't remember the last time I saw one in a theater in the middle of the day. It sounds so luxurious!

  6. Kate - Someone needs to pay us to watch classic movies for a living and blog about them. We need to find ourselves a wealthy patron. You are so right, The Big Sleep is a confusing movie. Maybe, like Out of the Past, I've seen it so many times that I've tricked myself into it making any sense. But it is definitely convoluted. Thanks for the compliment on that line!

    Artman & Mercurie - I love how even Raymond Chandler confused himself!

    Artman - That's a great line! And you got it straight on. I remember Bogie delivering that line in the beginning of the movie. And I totally agree RE: Dick Powell. He could have been typecast as the juvenile lead in musicals (even as he was getting older). I admire him greatly for turning his career around and doing something drastically different. It's like we've got two Dick Powells to watch!

    Mercurie - You need to come up to Boston! Or we need to send you a Brattle. Whichever. You are right, MMS & Big Sleep are nearly perfect. I prefer the latter over the former but they are both top-notch film noir classics.

    Laura - Thank you again for not being completely and utterly offended by my dirty mind and for reading this. Sometimes I write these things and I think to myself "I hope Laura isn't completely appalled".

    KC - I know. I feel like it's worth taking a day off in the middle of the week just to do this. But it's got to be timed with the showing of an excellent film.

  7. Never got to the Brattle as often as I should have when I lived close enough to do so pretty easily. But I still have fond memories of the place.

    Thanks to the DVD, The Big Sleep gets a screening around mi casa once or twice a year. I know it's not the same as a theater show (esp. double features programmed by others), but that's no reason to deny myself these films, is it?


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