Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bogart and Bacall

Tonight we watched The Big Sleep. We all talked afterwards about the many books, movies, musicals and other things that are alluding to or visually quoting from this movie, and Moomin Light put together a nice collection of some of the best here.

The dialogue is snappy throughout the movie - it's my chief pleasure in watching it. The fastest exchanges, though, are between Bogart and Bacall. They cut each other off back and forth several times when their characters first meet. One scene in particular is great fun, and it's when the two main characters realize they have some special chemistry (shown here). They pass the phone back and forth, driving a police officer crazy on the other end, pretending to be each other's mother and father, alternately. In an otherwise pretty serious movie, this is like Bringing up Baby.

What we also discussed was the way every woman in the movie throws themselves (with various degrees of style) at Bogart's character. The book shop girl, the cabbie, the hat check girls, both of the general's daughters... The one exception is the only girl Bogart actually insults - the girl who seems to go only for the rats.

The most striking thing to me, was that with all the pretty and sexy women, all in keeping with the style at the time, it's Bacall's face that is the standout. It's not a face that was fashionable; instead it was unforgettable, and still is. What I wanted to find was a photo of her face in the car, just before he kisses her for the first time... I couldn't find one anywhere, though it was a pleasure to rove through hundreds of photos of her, as many in her later years as in her youth. This one is almost as lovely, and captures the famous sultry look.

(photo available at

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