Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Petrified Forest (1936)

The Petrified Forest (1936) is an English major's delight. For those of use who use literature and poetry as a filter through which we see the world. Sometimes we feel isolated when everyone around us takes life as is and doesn't try to see some other type of meaning. So I can sympathize with Gabrielle (Bette Davis) and her plight. She stuck in the middle of the desert working at a Gas Station/Bar-B-Que Joint. She reads the poetry of Francois Villon and dreams of going to Bourges, France where her like-minded mother is from and currently resides. Gabrielle is surrounded by people who are perfectly content with what fills their lives, even if it is clouds of dust from a sandstorm. It's just her luck that a wandering novelist, Alan (Leslie Howard), stumbles upon Gabrielle's oasis, hungry for food and intellectual stimulation. They find themselves in each other and in the poetry and literature they love, while everyone else around them is pretty oblivious to what they share. After Alan goes on his way, criminal on the lam, Duke Mantee (Humphrey Bogart) brings the couple back together in a way that only a true literature-phile could appreciate. Oh this is a film I can watch over and over again. Anyone who has big dreams but is stuck in their situation due to whatever circumstances can see themselves in Gabrielle. What a way to kick off this marathon!

Doesn't Bogie look a little Ben Affleck here?


  1. Probably one of my favorite Bogart films. I love the way Bogart presents his character - that posture and attitude! You're right, what a way to start the marathon.

  2. Ooh, you started with my favorite Bogie! He's so terrifying here, and unlike so many of his early heel roles there's no Cagney to play second fiddle to. This was also the film that showed me Leslie Howard was more than Ashley Wilkes, I love his character.

    btw, this is one that I have actually had luck in converting non-classic film fans over too.

  3. I adore this film. No one plays the romantic idealist quite like Leslie Howard!

  4. This is one of the all time great films Bogart starred in. And it was a great film for Leslie Howard and Bette Davis too. It's one of those movies that had a nearly perfect cast. And Duke Mantee has to be one of Bogie's most memorable characters!

  5. i know we disagreed on who walks away with this picture but its really splitting hairs to me cuz its a great film and all involved do first rate work in it. i feel Archie Mayo is a very overlooked director but i guess i feel that ay about a lot of directors, lol.

    Quelle if you've never seen "Black Legion" with Bogie again directed by Archie Mayo, its a must see, very HEAVY and uncompromising material and Bogie is first rate!

  6. Robby - I love Bogie's swagger in this one. He's tired, he's mean, he's on the lam but he's menacing too. Thanks for stopping by!

    Cliff - I'm so happy you said that! One of my semi-classic film liking friends loves this movie. I agree with you. It's great for conversion. It should be in our holy bible of classic film preaching.

    Mercurie - I totally agree. The casting is perfection.

    Paulie - It's okay. We both take different things from the movie. I am an English major at heart so the literary love story is what captures me. A wandering novelist and trapped poet/painter in the middle of the dessert. It makes my heart go pitter-patter.

  7. awww, its ok Quelle, i understand! i got the same feeling when Clara Bow wore that sheer dress, boa feathers, and mask in the costume ball scene in "My Lady of Whims" ;)

  8. I'd never heard of this film before...well, I may have heard the title but didn't know what it was about...but now I'm intrigued! I suppose it's the literature-phile in me. :) The setting looks fascinating too - I'm also a Depression-era history buff.


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