List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
I am writing this the day after staying up all night so I could watch the Oscars so please excuse me for the brevity of this post. I write this now to make sure I can properly recall both films that I watched with my mum after what is becoming our yearly tradition of staying up to watch the Oscars, sleeping a few hours and then a movie double bill.
There are a lot of noir films in her collection so we started off with The Big Sleep, a noir mystery starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. I felt that I had to see this movie since she featured in the In Memoriam section and I don’t think I have seen a film with her in it other than Dogville.
The Big Sleep can be summarised in two words: confusing and tangential. I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep (although later reading about this film I doubt it) but I had to keep the Wikipedia synopsis of the film open to make sure that I knew what was actually going on. I know it makes me sound a little bit simple but when you have a conspiracy with so many names it can be hard to keep track. I go for tangential as my other word since some of the sequences involved feel like there are some logical leaps that would have been better explained in the book.
I am by no means detracting from the performances in this. Humphrey Bogart, as always, delivers on his role of the manly male interest (who can not get away with playing the role of 10 years his junior). However, the real show-stealer is Martha Vickers as Lauren Bacall’s sister. Whenever she appears on the screen she has your complete and undivided attention. Reading how her role was cut down to allow Bacall to shine a bit more… and then she basically had no career afterwards… makes me angry.
So, between our films we took a lunch break and, in honour of my new list, we got a Quiche Lorraine from over the road and had a leisurely lunch with some salad. Sometimes, all you need is a bit of quiche.
The other movie in our double bill was Gaslight, the film where Ingrid Bergman won the first of her three Academy Awards. Watching this, I can see where the win came from (she beat Barbara Stanwyck for her role in Double Indemnity, some people see this as a snub but I am inclined to agree with the Academy on this one). Her role of a woman being psychologically tortured and broken down by her husband to the point that she feels that she be committed to an asylum is truly affecting (something which has come to be known as ‘gaslighting’).
In a previous post I talked about how the Hayes Code can be annoying because you know that anti-heroes in films like Gun Crazy are going to die or get caught. The opposite is true here, thanks to the code I knew the bastard husband (very well played by Charles Boyer to the point I did not recognise him from Madame De…) was going to get his comeuppance, so I felt free to keep rooting for that to happen. When it does, that is when you see Ingrid Bergman in her Oscar reel with her turning the psychological torture tables. A completely gripping 4 minutes.
Also of note in this film is that it marked the cinematic debut of Angela Lansbury playing a rather uncouth housemaid. Weird to think that 50 years later she would be the voice of Mrs Potts in Beauty and the Beast.
I could have made this a separate post, but this provided me with the second half of this food item (the first being covered in a previous post).