(Not So) Random Film of the Week: The Big Sleep

the big sleep MPI’ve probably seen Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep about a dozen or so times over the years and I still can’t properly describe the plot of the film even after finally reading the Raymond Chandler novel it’s based on. That said, it’s always been a fun classic film to watch a few times because Humphrey Bogart plays his part so effortlessly and the other actors follow suit with some solid performances.

Yes, I know the film is all about private eye Philip Marlowe’s (Humphrey Bogart) somewhat interesting and somewhat laid back investigation process in a particularly confounding murder/extortion/sex/drugs case where a number of bodies drop before all is said and done.  That said, the plot spills all over the place like a tipsy barmaid wearing roller skates trying to carry a tray of drinks onboard a capsizing ship.  In the end, none of the plot bumps really hurt the movie because you’ll likely end up loving the end result for Howard Hawks’ directing and the cast doing their best with that loopy William Faulkner/Jules Furthman/Leigh Brackett script (which got a few other hands involved as well).

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The film is also a great look at the real-life blossoming Bogart and Bacall relationship with the snappy chemistry between the pair (working together for the second time) getting the sparks going full on despite the Hays Code restrictions. In other words, a little innuendo goes a long way, folks. That said, rather than do a rote retelling of the plot (which would take a longer post, trust me), this bit of pillow fluff will take a detour into Philip Marlowe’s amusingly laid back approach to dealing with most of the film’s other actors.

(Thanks, TheTrailerBlaze!)

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Random Films: Two From France I Can’t Watch…

made in franceOK, some stuff from the vaults with a goofy story behind them. My late dad gave me a box of VHS tapes around 15 or 20 years back and these two were ones that I couldn’t play on my NTSC tape player (they’re both SEACAM format). I recall telling him this later when he called to ask if I liked the movies and he said he’d “get back to me” later on this. I knew what that meant, so I told him he didn’t have to go looking for a player here at all because even if he DID find one, I’d still need a TV that could play it. If you ever knew my dad long enough, you’d know he had a sort of single-minded pursuit of the great deal mindset to him that was fascinating and slightly pesky once in a while when he’d end up with multiples of some items if you’d simply asked for one. I had to stop him from looking for a VCR and TV on that occasion because I knew he’d somehow find both in his travels and I really didn’t want him to spend that money just so I could watch two movies, one of which I’d already seen…

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Random Film Of The Week: A Matter Of Life and Death (Stairway to Heaven)

(thanks, littleiceage!)

A Matter of Life and Death_MPI’d heard about this classic 1946 British film from a few people over the years (it was released in the US as “Stairway to Heaven”, a title disliked by the directors), but thanks to TCM, last night I finally got the chance to see this Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger gem and it’s about as perfect a movie as I can recommend to anyone. This isn’t a review at all, but more of a quick recommendation.

Check out the great sequence above and track down a copy somewhere, add it to your Netflix or other (LEGAL) film download queues and give it a look as soon as possible, I say. As with Powell and Pressburger’s other films for The Archers, the visual style, use of color (the amazing Technicolor work and scene transitions from color to black & white are flawless) and of course, the story and acting are all on point. Additionally, the stunning cinematography by Jack Cardiff makes for some memorable artistic moments where it counts.

(BTW, Powell’s The Red Shoes also comes highly recommended if you’ve never seen it and makes a stellar companion piece to Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, as both contain similar thematic elements)