Dark Passage:

A lesser-known Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall film that, despite an un-Hollywood ending, is one of their best (THE best in my opinion). The chemistry between the two has never been better. The film begins from the visual perspective of Bogart’s wronged-criminal character. The camera moves with Bogart’s eyes, so the audience only hears his voice and does not see his face for the first part of the film. Once we see Bogart, the film picks up its pace some, but throughout, this film is a strong thriller. Don’t look for everything to be resolved in the end – but aside from that, this one will keep you guessing.

Written on the Wind:

Melodrama at its finest! Directed by high-drama master Douglas Sirk, this film will make you run the gamut of all emotions. There is scandal, affairs, wronged love, unabated passions, alcoholism, miscarriages, infertility, guns, murder, etc. Sounds good, right? Well, it is. It’s like one big soap opera, but, don’t worry…it’s a top-notch soap…with Rock Hudson, Bacall, Kirk Douglas and Dorothy Malone, who won a Supporting Actress Oscar for her role.

Designing Woman:

A great romantic comedy with a twist. Here, the couple gets married first and then they decide to get to know each other. When they do, they find out how little they have in common. This would be just a typical run-of-the-mill rom com if it weren’t for the quick, super-sharp script (which won an Oscar) and the talents of Gregory Peck and Bacall, who have fabulous chemistry that translates perfectly on the screen. A must see for any romantic comedy fans!

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lauren-b

One of the last remaining classic actresses, Bacall was part of the Golden Age of Cinema…the 1940s-1950s. She was a screen siren from day one, with her sultry performance as the ultimate Femme Fatale in To Have and Have Not, directed by Howard Hawks and starring Humphrey Bogart. From that catapult to stardom in 1944, Bacall never looked back. She starred in three more movies with Bogart, who in addition to being her favorite leading man on screen, became her leading man off screen when they married in 1945.

Over the next few days, I will highlight some of my favorite Bacall movies. We have truly lost one of the greats.

Check out these Lauren Bacall movies at the Niles Public Library:

All I Want for Christmas (J)

The Big Sleep

Birth

Blood Alley

Read more »

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This movie, forever known for the line “I don’t have to show you any stinking badges,” is more of a philosophical study on human nature than an action film. Yes, there is action and a certain sense of mystery, but the core of the film is a character study about materialism, morals and friendship. Don’t be alarmed…all of these things make it sound like a boring “educational” film, which it is most definitely not. Based on a novel by the elusive author B. Traven, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre lives up to its reputation as a true classic directed by one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th Century (John Huston). Humphrey Bogart, who had already developed a working relationship with Huston with films like 1941’s The Maltese Falcon and Key Largo also from 1948, changed his clean-cut ladies man image to take on the role of a scruffy, indigent American Fred Dobbs trapped in Mexico. With a coincidental twist of fate, Dobbs meets up with Curtin, who is just as down on his luck, and an aged prospector (Huston’s father Walter) who tells the two younger men about his good old days gold mining. That’s when it really all begins…the three of them head out of town to hunt for gold. Whether they find some of not is soon irrelevant since once in the middle of nowhere Curtin’s and especially Dobbs’s greed and paranoia starts to take over. Walter Huston’s character, Howard, is the one constant in the film. He does not change since he already has experienced the highs and lows of prospecting and knows what not to do. Also, being the oldest, Howard has the least to lose or gain from finding gold. Put all of these characters and situations together and what you have is one great film filled with flawed, yet powerful people learning an equally powerful message. Don’t worry—this film is not preachy in its morality. It just depicts how easily greed can corrupt. A good film for everyone to watch but especially recent lottery winners!

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For film noir-buffs, this is as close to the Father of the genre as you can get. For a genre that came into its own AFTER WWII, this 1941 film still fits the “noir” bill even though it was made before we even entered into the War. Like other noir titles made before the end of the War, specifically Otto Preminger’s 1944 classic Laura and Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (also from 1944), The Maltese Falcon did a good job of molding what the noir genre was to become in its heyday…the 1950s. The first appearance of Bogart as legendary Hammett private dick Sam Spade, this also is the first pairing of Bogart with director John Huston, with whom Bogie made five subsequent films. Mary Astor plays possibly the first ever true femme fatale on screen…she’s cold, seductive and very conniving. Plot wise…Spade gets entangled with Astor after his partner dies investigating something for her. Astor turns out to be much more than an innocent victim. What Astor needed Spade’s partner to investigate was bogus and the true crime involves a golden falcon…which those who want are willing to do ANYTHING to get. A true noir classic!

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A lesser-known Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall film that, despite an un-Hollywood ending, is one of their best. The chemistry between the two has never been better. The film begins from the visual perspective of Bogart’s wronged-criminal character. The camera moves with Bogart’s eyes, so the audience only hears his voice and does not see his face for the first part of the film. Once we see Bogart, the film picks up its pace some, but throughout, this film is a strong thriller. Don’t look for everything to be resolved in the end – but aside from that, this one will keep you guessing.

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Surprisingly, I didn’t see this one until I was in my 20s. I used to think Bogart was a rough, unappealing creature…that is until I saw 1954’s Sabrina and began to see him as a softer, more compassionate soul. He possesses a knack for charming women off their feet, while being just a bit brash about it. He’s still rough and tough when he needs to be, but he knows when to bring out to tough guy and when to bring out his softer side. In Sabrina, I got a sneak peak at this behavior. In Casablanca, Bogart had it perfected…his character Rick Blaine is the romantic leading man to end all romantic leading men—not because he’s OVERLY sensitive but because he’s JUST sensitive enough. Now for the story…basically it’s about a nightclub owner in Morocco during WWII (Bogart) who reunites with an old flame (Ingrid Bergman, looking her best) that he fell in love with in Paris during the German occupation of France. Complications are plentiful, such as that the “old flame” is married…to a member of the French Underground, no less, which makes him trouble to the Nazis in Casablanca. But…really the details of the plot are pretty irreverent. Why? Well, how come even though the story is rich and filled with subplots and interesting characters, people only remember the relationship between Bergman and Bogart? And even though this film is a WWII intrigue thriller, why is it mostly know for being strictly a timeless “love story?” Rent this one and see if you can put answers to these questions…

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At the beginning of this Billy Wilder film, Sabrina Fairchild is an unassuming chauffeur’s daughter who has plain looks (OK – as plain as Audrey Hepburn can get!) and an intense infatuation with the employer’s son, David, played perfectly by William Holden (with blond hair!). After a stint in Paris at cooking school, she returns as a sophisticated woman, but still retains her crush on David. Enter David’s older and less carefree brother Linus, played by Humphrey Bogart, to muck up the ideal love affair Sabrina has in mind for she and David. Basically, that’s the plot in a nutshell. The performances make this film more than just your typical romantic comedy. Holden is perfect as the lollygagger David, who is much more interested in the ladies than in the family business. Bogart combines the right mix of stiffness and lovability to be a Linus we can actually imagine Sabrina being attracted to. Apparently, Hepburn and Holden did not get along well with Bogart while making this film. That lack of chemistry does not show up on screen…all of the characters’ interactions with each other seem natural and unforced. It is a little odd seeing the much older Bogart with the young Hepburn, but that’s Hollywood. Even back in 1954!

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Humphrey Bogart is downright scary in this one…directed by Rebel Without a Cause director Nicholas Ray. Like another Bogart film noir film, Dark Passage from 1947, this is another one that Hollywood didn’t like to make that often…no “happy” ending. Most film noirs don’t end conventionally happy, but they do find some sort of resolution. There is no resolution here…In a Lonely Place ends even darker than it begins. The story revolves around Bogart’s character, who is a struggling screenwriter trying to get back on his professional feet. He has no desire to read the book he’s been asked to adapt so when he meets a young lady who has read it, he asks her to tell him the story…at his apartment. Nothing “bad” seems to happen but the next morning when we find out the girl has been murdered, we really are not sure how innocent Bogart really is. I mean, this is a man out of control. Right from the beginning, we see he has a bad temper and it only gets worse. This is NOT a nice guy, but somehow, due to the director of Ray and mostly to the stellar acting of Bogart, we like him. We feel for him and we WANT him to be innocent, even though we’re not 100% sure he is. One of Bogart’s best performances!!!

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