Humphrey Bogart is a strange leading man: while charismatic, he is not exactly handsome, and as he got older, the contrast between his charisma and his lack of conventionally good looks got bigger. He wasn’t afraid to play characters that were unpleasant, though interestingly so, and he didn’t shy away from his characters’ dark sides, their cowardice, neediness, pettiness and egotism. Look at Fred C. Dobbs, his character in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: he’s not a Disney villain, he is not an evil mastermind, he is a small, pitiful man, really, who meets a pitiful end. How many Hollywood leading men at the time were happy to play such roles?Continue reading
Criterion Corner: They Live by Night (#880)
Being a self-confessed Criterion junkie, I have once or twice bought a Criterion release by mistake. I managed to order Persona twice (which, to be fair, makes perfect sense, considering the film). I once bought a DVD version of Le Samouraï from some Amazon reseller that turned out to be a Korean bootleg – and it didn’t even work. And I ordered They Live By Night (1948) after attending a lecture on Ida Lupino, where the lecturer showed a scene of the film that made it look intriguing and thrilling.
Turns out that film with Ida Lupino was They Drive by Night, of which there isn’t a Criterion release. As that great American philosopher said so memorably: D’oh. On the plus side, the Ida Lupino lecture was by Johannes Binotto, who joined us for our recent podcast on Lupino.
And while we’re talking about the pluses of me ordering the wrong film: They Live by Night is very good.Continue reading