The Hawks Report: When Howard met Lauren

Once upon a time, there was a pretty girl.  As has happened to many other pretty girls, other people liked to take pictures of her—and one of these pictures ended up in a magazine read by one of the greatest filmmakers who ever lived.  And this set in motion a chain of events that led to an enduring masterpiece of classical Hollywood—To Have and Have Not.  (Tune in July 17)

 harpers

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The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse

2013 marks the 75th anniversary of Anatole Litvak’s The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse, starring Edward G. Robinson, Claire Trevor and Humphrey Bogart.  Since no one else will celebrate it, I will.  Why?  Well, for starters, did you see that title?  No one has character names like that anymore nor are they described as amazing unless they’re Spiderman.   The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse does something else more common to the thirties of the 20th century than the teens of the 21st century:  It goes all over the place, mixing comedy, thriller and crime elements with just a touch of social commentary and class satire.  And, for the most part, it succeeds.

Amazing Dr Clitterhouse 01

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Reimagining Escape from the Planet of the Apes as a Warner Brothers gangster picture

Escape from the Planet of the Apes

If you grew up, as I did, in the Seventies and came of age with 20th Century Fox’s PLANET OF THE APES films then it is likely that you have struggled over the past forty years to make a case for the third film in the series, ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES (1971). The franchise entry stands alone for being the only one set in the present time — not in the distant future of PLANET OF THE APES (1968) and BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES (1970) nor in the near future of CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (1972) and BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (1973) — but in today (AKA 1971). ESCAPE drops the only three characters to survive the Apocalyptic blowout of BENEATH into contemporary Los Angeles, where they must conceal from modern man his destiny while enjoying the attention that comes with celebrity and suffering the realities of being branded public enemies. It took me many years to appreciate how thought-provoking ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES really is; as a 10-year-old, I was annoyed that there was no element of fantasy to it (well, apart from intelligent apes with British accents)… no ape army, no nuclear bomb-loving mutants, no wilted Statue of Liberty, no melted Metropolitan Transit System. It was just the LA Zoo, Rodeo Drive, and apes wearing street clothes. And yet… as I grew older and enjoyed many other kinds of movies I began to see reflections in ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES in them… and nowhere more prominently than in the crime genre. [...MORE]

Thompson! Can you hear me?

Roger Corman

To my way of thinking there is no more cinematic an automatic weapon than the Thompson submachine gun. More than half of the association, for me, is the construction — that cylindrical magazine looks like a film canister and the distinctive rat-a-tat-tat of the of the Tommy gun’s report like the rattle of film threading its way through a projector — but it also has to do with the fact that gangster films, spawned as they were by Prohibition and allowing the Thompson its feature film debut, were one of the vehicles bridging the silent and sound eras.  [...MORE]

I Only Make Passes at Boys Who Wear Glasses

Some women like men who drive fast cars; others prefer men with an athletic build while some find a uniform irresistible. Me? I appreciate a good pair of spectacles.
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Bogart and Grahame: Caught In a Lonely Place

One of my favorite films airs tomorrow night, October 4, on TCM. In a Lonely Place is my favorite directorial effort by Nicholas Ray, with terrific performances by Humphrey Bogart and by Gloria Grahame.  Though a box-office disappointment when it was released in 1950, In a Lonely Place has since been recognized as a Nicholas Ray masterwork and written about from every possible angle.  It’s been discussed as an example of film noir, posited as an autobiographical retelling of Ray and Grahame’s disintegrating marriage, and dissected as a product of its paranoiac times (the HUAC investigations and the resultant Hollywood blacklist). I can’t improve on what most critics and historians have written about In a Lonely Place, but I thought I would offer some slightly disorganized observations on why I love this movie.

In a Lonely Place stars Humphrey Bogart as Dixon Steele, a Hollywood screenwriter who is down on his luck because of his drinking and his temper. Few studios and directors want to work with him, so he takes a job turning the latest potboiler novel into a screenplay.  Rather than read the novel, he asks a hatcheck girl, Mildred, to come home with him to tell him the story.  The film has a rich texture in which even small parts are memorable because of the fertile script and the pitch-perfect performances. Mildred is a working-class gal taken with the melodrama of the book who reaches beyond her education and station to describe the story. She notes that one of the male characters looks like a “bronze Apollo,” except she pronounces it “A-polo.”

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They said WHAT?! Classic Insults from Classic Actors

Humphrey Bogart and William Holden duking it out on the set of SABRINA (1954)

In June actor Harrison Ford made news after publicly calling, Shia LaBeouf, his young costar from INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (Steven Spielberg; 2008) “…a f–king idiot.” Since then I’ve been thinking about insults that actors have hurled at other actors over the years and a recent piece at Flavorwire titled “The 30 Harshest Filmmaker-on-Filmmaker Insults In History” compelled me to compile a list of 30 of the worst actor-on actor insults I’ve come across. Some of them are surprisingly crude so I thought I should worn potential readers before they plunge ahead. Let the war of words begin…

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Some Favorite DVD Releases of 2010

Every year I try to compile a list of my favorite new DVD releases. These lists tend to focus on films from the ’60s and ’70s since they’re my favorite film eras. This year I decided to expand my view a little and disregard limitations so I could share a varied list of all my favorite DVD releases with Movie Morlock readers. This list is far from complete since I haven’t had the opportunity to see every new DVD that was released but I hope it will encourage a few people to seek out these films. Many of the movies on my list were released on DVD for the first time last year so they’ve been hard to see unless you own them on video or caught them playing on television. So without further ado, here’s some of my favorite DVD releases from 2010 listed alphabetically for easy reference.

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Before Humphrey Became Bogie

Humphrey Deforest Bogart models his new flippers.        [...MORE]

Giving Thanks

When did “Thank You” become so hard to say? I’m constantly amazed by the surprised looks and unexpected smiles I get from strangers every time I utter those words. It often seems as if I’m speaking another language. A language that is both hopeful and confusing to anyone who doesn’t hear that simple phrase very often. Shop girls and delivery boys are often taken completely off guard when I thank them for their work. The mailman seems utterly shocked when I utter a quick, “Thanks!” for his service. Even people that I’m friendly with occasionally act surprised when I thank them for recommending a movie or lending me a DVD. I was raised to say “Thank you” for whatever good fortune I received and I’m grateful to my parents for bringing me up that way. I’m also thankful that I’m able to put my misfortunes aside and enjoy some of the simple pleasures in life like getting my mail delivered in a rainstorm or getting a good cup of coffee served by a weary waitress whose face lights up after I thank her. I’m also thankful for the movies I’ve grown up with and the people that made them. Movies aren’t just mild entertainment in my home. They’re art, story and sound. They’re wonderous things that have gently helped shape who I am and how I see the world. On this Thanksgiving holiday I can’t resist giving thanks to a few of the moviemakers that I’m especially grateful for lately.

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