1946: Hollywood & the Great Directors

August 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Lana Turner John Garfield The Postman Always Rings Twice Director Tay Garnett

Lana Turner, John Garfield, “The Post­man Always Rings Twice”, direc­tor Tay Garnett

The year 1939 is regarded by most film his­to­ri­ans as the pin­na­cle of suc­cess and legit­i­macy in the short his­tory of Hollywood’s Golden era. That year gave us the likes of Gone With the Wind, The Wiz­ard of Oz, Stage­coach, Mr. Smith Goes to Wash­ing­ton and many more.

The man­i­fest qual­ity of these great clas­sics is evi­dent and needs no fur­ther elab­o­ra­tion here. There are a num­ber of rea­sons for the achieve­ments of 1939, chief of which was the great Hol­ly­wood stu­dio sys­tem. If 1939 was a water­shed year for Hol­ly­wood, then the next great shift came in 1946, Hollywood’s most suc­cess­ful year ever, in terms of atten­dance. The motion pic­ture had grown up in the seven years since the release of Gone With the Wind. The great change of course came about with World War II, and it’s after­math. Read more

Mystique: Humphrey Bogart, the Peak Years

August 4, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

Humphrey Bogart 1941

Humphrey Bog­art 1941

From hard-boiled Sam Spade to cyn­i­cal Rick Blaine, from wise crack­ing shamus Philip Mar­lowe to down-on-his-luck Fred C. Dobbs, Humphrey Bog­art cre­ated a gallery of unfor­get­table char­ac­ters. Appear­ing in over 75 films, span­ning 26 years, Bog­art left an indeli­ble mark on Amer­i­can cinema.

Humphrey Bogart’s early career was hardly note­wor­thy. His roles ranged from rich play­boys to seedy hood­lums. In the film The Pet­ri­fied For­est (1936), Bog­art, on the insis­tence of his Broad­way co-star Leslie Howard, re-created his role of the cold-blooded killer Duke Man­tee. The film was a huge suc­cess and gave a tremen­dous boost to his career. Although his imme­di­ate roles remained con­strained to the hood­lums, and mal­con­tents he had por­trayed prior to The Pet­ri­fied For­est , he remained stead­fast in his pur­suit of excellence.

By 1941 Humphrey Bog­art was on the verge of cin­e­matic promi­nence. His sub­se­quent and now cel­e­brated roles were about to gar­ner Bog­art the accep­tance and adu­la­tion he so des­per­ately craved. A recog­ni­tion he rel­ished, as he set out for­tu­itously to cre­ate the now famous “Bog­art ” mys­tique, which would dom­i­nate the screen for the next decade. He was to remark later that there were few things about which he could feel gen­uine pride, and the 1941 clas­sic The Mal­tese Fal­con, was one of them. Read more

Film Noir and the Femme Fatale

July 16, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

High Heels on Wet Pavement

Los Ange­les 1948

Femme fatale—is defined as “an irre­sistibly attrac­tive woman, espe­cially one who leads men into dan­ger or dis­as­ter”. To me the most engag­ing sem­blance of a “femme fatale” is the stun­ning image of Lana Turner, as the cam­era pans from her ankles upward in that breath­tak­ing shot from The Post­man Always Rings Twice 1946. Read more