Two Mrs. Carrolls Lacks Noir

 DATELINE: Oldie May Not Be Goodie

  Stanwyk & Bogart Great Stars! Abysmal Script!

Back in the late 1940s, it was tough to find leading ladies who were strong enough to stand up to Humphrey Bogart. Usually producers fell back on his wife, Lauren Bacall, for a counterpoint.

In a rare miss, Bogart was teamed with one of the big misses of the era.

Big women movie stars on the screen—like Joan Crawford and Bette Davis—did not measure up to the scripts that suited Bogart.

On the other hand, Barbara Stanwyk was also a tough cookie to play against. She was so tough that her leading men came off as Neanderthal, if not pussycats. Gary Cooper was a regular costar, and after that, you were facing weaker characters (played by Fred MacMurray or Ronald Reagan, or the nice guys like Bill Holden).

After Sorry, Wrong Number, she took on more nasty victims, and so we come to teaming Bogart and Stanwyk, almost deserving of each other in the dull-witted murder-thriller The Two Mrs. Carrolls. Stanwyk is hysterical on the telephone once again, and rest assured, the rainy Scottish weather means that Bogart will don his obligatory trench-coat and fedora for at least one scene. It isn’t enough.

It was post-World War II and tough-guy actors were stretching into demi-villains. Thus odd-ball film is set in Scotland with an American cast of apparent expatriates. Nigel Bruce (Dr. Watson) is on hand as a dotty doctor for Stanwyk as she is poisoned, and Alexis Smith is the new muse for the diabolical painter.

You keep wondering when Sydney Greenstreet will show up to trap Bogart’s bad guy.

As Geoffrey Carroll, Humphrey Bogart loses interest in his latest wife as muse, murders her, and finds another. It is kind of Andrea del Sarto as Bluebeard.

He plays an unconvincing American artist in this one, not a detective, and he seems to have headaches when the word “death” echoes behind him. He exhibits a bunch of the Deadly Sins—including rage, pride, jealousy, among others.

His alleged successful paintings are deplorable.

These are not good signs for Bogie in the last days of noir. They may be worse news for Stanwyk as victim. She is made so demure that the point of putting a strong woman opposite Bogart was lost. Bogart feeds poisoned milk to his wives, like Cary Grant in Suspicion by Hitchcock. It’s that kind of copycat movie.

This British play is devoid of wit, suspense, plot, action, or anything that could be saved by the high-powered actors at the top of their careers. This was not a Warner Brothers film, or it would never have been made like this.

The final few seconds are the high-point when Bogie offers warm milk to the policemen about to take him away. (Oh, it’s laced with that poison).

What a disappointment for the most part.

 

 

 

Trump & His Strawberry Moment

DATELINE:  Bogart & Trump as Captain Queeg

Trump seeks op-ed writer!

Like Captain Queeg on the USS Caine, President Trump is cracking up and cracking open a tin of frozen strawberries.

Queeg went bananas over his tin of strawberries, and Trump has gone bonkers over the anonymously opened fruit can. It belonged to him alone, and no one else was allowed near his favorite dessert.

The defining moment for Humphrey Bogart in the 1954 movie version of The Caine Mutiny went over the top in his role as President Trump, er…Captain Queeg. He rolled ball bearings in his fingers when under stress, or did he put on a MAGA cap on the bridge?

The paranoid commander-in-chief (during an important World War II mission) scientifically tested his can of strawberries to determine if someone was pilfering small amounts every day. He came to a disturbing conclusion that he could trust no one on his senior staff. It left his senior staff scrambling over whether the leader was losing his marbles.

Anyone of them could be a dangerous op-ed writer.

He assembled the entire crew and threatened them with treason for stealing his beloved personal  stash of strawberries.

How much  It reminds of the White House under T-rump, the dreaded dinosaur of politics.

Eventually the senior officers instigated a mutiny, invoking the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution to forcibly remove Captain T-Rump, er Queeg, from the bridge of command.

Of course, the story and movie were complete fiction. No one could ever envision of total nutcase taking over the lives of a crew and subjecting the country to his dangerous and ridiculous whims and tweets.

It could not happen unless there were complicit officers on the command to leave the deranged paranoid alone and let him do whatever crazy notion entered his twisted noggin.

It’s nothing like Washington, D.C., in the 21st century.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

                               

Trump as Captain Queeg?

 DATELINE:  25th Amendment Mutiny?

 

Queeg Trump Bogart as Trump

If you caught Fox & Friends on this Thursday morning, April 26, you heard the President of the United States call in for a light-hearted conversation.

For over 30 minutes, the hosts humored him until someone told them in their earpieces that he was out of his mind—and shut him down immediately.

Unfortunately for his supportive trio of hosts, the POTUS went slightly off-script. Banter turned into darkly moody ranting.

We haven’t seen such a prolonged, agonizing performance of descent into madness since Humphrey Bogart played Captain Queeg in the notorious scene from Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny, not to be confused with Herman Caine’s run for president.

A paranoid officer, Captain Queeg went on the witness stand to testify against the mutineer officers of his ship. And, he proved their point.

We could not see Trump rolling little steel balls between his fingers, but we certainly heard the deranged rant about the missing strawberries.

Someone stole his favorite dessert from the galley kitchen.

No, wait, that was Queeg.

Trump went on and on about Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen, and admitted to prosecutors listening what they exactly needed to hear. He gave them a full lunatic confession.

It may not be admissible in court of law because the poor, besotted soul in love with himself was clearly an animal in distress. Impeachment may be another kettle of strawberries.

We wonder how many members of Congress heard this and wondered how soon the Cabinet will mutiny against the mad Queeg in the White House.

Humphrey Bogart won accolades for his searing portrait of a man in the throes of madness. Trump lost more credibility, though his supporters may be as mad as he.

We are slip-sliding on steel ball bearings—and Great America is about to have a greater fall.

Indeed, Trump proved that the strawberries were stolen, and it was not fake news after all.

It was a career-ending performance.

Black Bird Still Provides Dreams

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

 Featured image

We can’t recall the last time we watched The Maltese Falcon, and time has made us grow fonder.

What a brilliant work: cynical, sophisticated, timely, with great performances up and down. We noticed this time that Walter Huston, director John Huston’s father, had an unbilled cameo as a sea captain.

We relished the other scenes that came back to us: Peter Lorre and his phallic cane and gardenia scented calling card. There was no homophobia back then. Kaspar Gutman clearly had more than a father-son relationship with his “gunsel” Elisha Cook, Jr.

Had we forgotten what a romantic cad Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade truly was? He had been sleeping with his partner’s wife and disdained her.

He may have fudged feelings, or used them ruthlessly as part of his job as a detective. His repartee with the Fatman, Sydney Greenstreet, was a delight. And, Huston filled the screen with a wide shot of the Gutman’s gut. You might wonder why Greenstreet’s billing was so low—but it really was his debut as a nemesis for Warner Brothers crime dramas.

Mary Astor’s deadly female was far more nuanced than we had thought, though she could not be believed as Spade realized.

The cops are Barton McLaine and Ward Bond, bad and good, but playing the stereotype with freshness.

As for that Black Bird, his entrance always is hilarious and staggering, unwrapped amid the drooling pursuers.

For decades, detective movies have used this template, but this one is the original—and it seems almost effortless from directing, writing, and performing. What a treat.

 

 

 

 

Maltese Falcon Deflategated, Part One

DATELINE: Play it again, Sam Spade

 

Featured imageBrady Holds Deflated Football

Tom Brady will tell you when a teammate is suspended, you are supposed to do something about it. It does not make a difference what you thought of him. He was a teammate.

When one in your organization is suspended by the Commissioner, it’s bad for business, bad all around, bad especially for every quarterback. Robert Kraft knows this lesson.

Brady doesn’t care if you believed his story—and Tom told the Wells investigators he was paid enough to make telling the truth irrelevant—and more than enough to make it all right.

Brady will tell you privately he knew what he was doing. Those are the chances you take to win a Super Bowl.

If Roger Goodell is for plain speaking and clear understanding, he is not talking about the black bird. He is not even talking turkey. If Goodell told Brady what the value of deflation is, Brady would not believe it.

Goodell admitted he does not trust a man who says, “no emails.” If he’s got to be careful not to let his smartphone be monitored, it’s because he cannot be trusted.

Brady’s agent told Goodell not to let himself be influenced by paid lawyers with a loaded report in his back pocket. Brady never lets himself be influenced by media hound desperadoes because he is practiced at taking the high ground.

Goodell told Brady that he might have deflated the football, but the NFL certainly has the right to deflate Tom Brady.

After the hullabaloo over Deflategate, Goodell said to Brady, “Well, what do you suggest? We stand here and shed tears and call each other names, or shall you accept my punishment?”

Captain Queeg Meets the Maltese Falcon

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

Bogie&BlackBird

For the uninitiated landlubber, it’s a yacht. When you own a boat that is over 55 feet in length with a couple of masts, you probably have enough money to hire Billy Budd to do your foretopping, if you like that sort of thing.

Humphrey Bogart spent his hard earned money from films like The Maltese Falcon to buy his yacht, which he kept until his death in 1957. He and Lauren Bacall spent many weekends away from the Hollywood set on their schooner.

It fell into disrepair in recent years, but is now over at a boatyard in Little Rhodie being restored to its former glory at the Portsmouth port.

Bogart called his little ship “Santana,” and seemed to find it “the stuff dreams are made of” far more than that disgusting black bird that Sydney Greenstreet (ergo, The Fat Man) chased all over San Francisco.

Now dubbed “Bogie’s Boat,” the little clipper may yet race at Newport with a new life and new owners.

Of course, our favorite story about Bogart’s boat had to do with his great film The Caine Mutiny. If you don’t recall, you deserve to give yourself a treat and see Humphrey Bogart at his most enthralling.

In that film he played the notorious Captain Queeg, a World War II captain with mental problems (like so many in literature). Herman Wouk’s character was brought to life in ways no one could have predicted by Bogie.

Queeg was more than a little strange. He used to roll ball bearings between his fingers when stress got to him. When he went on the witness stand after his crew declared him a nutcase and took the ship, he broke out those little ball bearings to prove the case.

After the movie was a big hit, Bogart was furious because his old friend Frank Sinatra played a prank of major proportions. He loaded up the ship with silver ball bearings that rolled all over the place with the tide.

No word has emerged yet if the ghost of Bogie and the ghost of Sinatra will be shipping out on the restored yacht.