Now and then I see something I’ve seen before, and sometimes it’s disconcerting - hmm, don’t remember this at all, except for one or two moments I could have sworn I saw last year. If that. So it was with . . . .
Netflix said I would like this, because Netflix understands me. I’d also given a somewhat decent rating to another Ida Lupino movie, and apparently unless you mark everything one star and the website uses acceleration-detection algorithms to learn how hard you punched the mouse, it recommends something with the same basic ideas, or actors, or set designers, or opening-credit fonts. This, however, was interesting:
What? I’m sorry, but which alternative universe begat a film in which Ida Lupino has billing over Bogie? Let us examine the trailer.
Translation: not sensation this year, , but she was pistol hot last year! Odd wording, but obviously they’re capitalizing on her success in, oh, I don’t know, Capital Success. She rose to stardom not on her glamorous looks but distinctive persona - fragile but tough, all-moll but secretly decent, easy but virtuous. The sort of character who sports a shiner bestowed by her boyfriend, speaks of it with clipped contempt, sticks with him, hopes for the best, and sees him dead at the end of the story - but not by her hand. You rooted for her. But what of the Man She Loved?
To use a 40s catchphrase: Well, I wouldn't say that.
Anyone else in the picture?
Sometimes it seems as if the ones who get this kind of billing never live up to it. Especially if they look as if their leading man just took off his shirt and he has a tentacle growing out of his sternum. Anyway, Bogie wasn’t top billing because he wasn’t the Bogart of lore, not yet. He would be soon. He was popular enough; he’d quickly moved out of the walk-on roles into the flinty lip-twitching hard guy who usually bought the lead pill in the third act, as opposed to the second. But he wasn’t there yet. No, he was playing guys with names like MAD DOG. This newspaper uses an interesting choice of words:
He's KNOWN! We are COGNIZANT of his IDENTITY! Quibbles aside, that is a newspaper.
He’s not entirely bad, though. A certain dignity surrounds his character, and he’s photographed with due respect; even in a shot like this, he has the classic Bogart self-possession. Men fear him! Women want him!
What’s that in the window?
Google searches just turn up some Japanese pop star. It’s probably a real brand - they didn't do product placement back then, but they also didn’t triple-5 the brand names, and fill the world with fictional products that would jerk you out of the story. Try new Olka-Selzer! It’s Bromirated! Who knows: perhaps ERI had a brief shelf-life, a few seasons in vogue; it made its way to the mirror-topped metal basket on women’s dressers, then moved to the back of the bathroom cabinet, then migrated to a cupboard, where it sat in the dark for a decade or two. I’ll bet a few bottles exist somewhere - but no one who sees it on a cluttered shelf in the basement of an antique store thinks hey, Bogart walked past that brand in a movie.
In the end, Bogie - being a criminal - goes out fighting, but he writes a note to his adversaries, setting the record straight, making sure Ida doesn’t fall for his deeds.
To the coppers - looks like curtains. No criminal in the world ever wrote those words, but it works for him. I’m not suggesting that the film sets him up as a character who finds eventual redemption, but . . . .
I’d recommend it for Bogart completists only - while it’s lauded as a Pivotal Role, it didn’t hold me too much. The author thought it was swell, though:
You can certainly trust his disinterested opinion. The press agrees - it’s sensational!
Who was Mark Hellinger, Ace Columnist? He was a theater critic and movie producer. Among the films he produced:
“They Drive By Night.” And “High Sierra.”