The African Queen

This review was originally written for Blueprint: Review.

Rose Sayer and her brother Samuel (Hepburn and Morley) are prim and proper British missionaries attempting to bring Methodist sensibilities to the village of Kungdu in German East Africa in 1914. They receive occasional supplies, mail and news from coarse, slovenly Canadian engineer-turned-boat captain Charlie Allnut (Bogart), who informs the pair about the outbreak of World War I. Shortly afterwards the village is ransacked, the church is burned down and the villagers are conscripted into the German ranks. When Samuel passes away from fever-induced delirium, Rose has no choice but to attempt to flee Africa aboard Charlie’s boat, The African Queen. The unlikely duo initially do not take too kindly to their polar opposites in such confined quarters, but soon learn to not just rely on one another, but that maybe opposites really do attract.the african queen 1 Continue reading

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

It looks like just another day at the detective agency for Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) when Miss Wonderly (Mary Astor) walks in requesting his assistance in tailing a man believed to have run off with her sister, but when Spade’s partner Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) is shot and another body shows up later that night, Sam soon finds himself under question by the police. His gift of the gab can only talk himself out of so many predicaments, as he becomes entwined in a desperate search for a priceless artefact that everyone seems to crave.
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The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) is a down on his luck American trying to make ends meet in Mexico. He can’t get a job, and lives day to day by begging for handouts from other working Americans he sees around town. After a particularly bad stroke of luck, he and his friend Curtin (Tim Holt), who is in a similar state of fiscal disarray, hatch the idea to go prospecting in search for gold. They convince Howard (Walter Huston), a former prospector, to come with them and offer advice, and he warns the pair of the dangers of too much gold amongst friends, but Hobbs in particular is adamant that wealth won’t change him. That is, until they find some, and discover other people might be after it too.
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I’ve finally watched Casablanca! After Gone with the Wind and Singin’ in the Rain I’ll finally be able to call myself a film fan. Don’t worry, they’re on the list, and GWTW is on my DVD shelf, so watch this space. There are many films – these three included – that are held with such high regard in the cinematic community – nay, the world – that one cannot possibly expect to leave the film having had expectations met and a smile on the face, so I went in expecting nothing but misquoted famous lines, romantic clinches and a bitter sense of disappointment, yet when those closing credits rolled the sense of elation tingling up my spine cannot be exaggerated. What we have here is more than a film, it’s a landmark in history.

Humphrey Bogart is of course Rick, owner of Rick’s Cafe American in Casablanca, French Morocco around the outbreak of World War 2. Bogey set the template for cynics on screen, sticking his neck out for nobody but those that will help him along. Rarely is there a moment when he isn’t drinking, smoking or both. The story involves a concentration camp escapee and secret documents containing a letter of transit allowing a safe departure from the town, but what you’re really here for is the script. Everyone knows the classics, “Here’s looking at you kid” “all the gin joints…” and “we’ll always have Paris” (“play it again, Sam” is never actually uttered) but the lesser known phrases are just as good, if not better: “I have given him the best, knowing he is German and would take it anyway” “this gun is pointed right at your head”/”that is my least vulnerable spot”.

Long scenes make the film seem longer than it is (for a classic it is surprisingly sleight at only 102 minutes) and Ingrid Bergman wears a distractingly terrible blouse for much of the film, but if yuo haven’t seen this film, I urge you to do so soon.I think I’ll go watch it again.

Choose film 9/10

In a Lonely Place

There’s only so much planning I can do towards what I’m going to watch when, but in the end a lot of this challenge will be left up to fate, when I come across films to watch, what films are available to rent, and if some are shown on television. Last Sunday, fate dealt me a kind hand when, after Something for the Weekend, the gods of weekend TV saw fit to show In a Lonely Place at a time when I had nothing else planned. And so, without any planning or preparation, another film has been crossed off.
In a Lonely Place sees Humphrey Bogart play with his romantic persona as Dixon Steele, a thriller writer suspected of murder after he invites a girl back to his apartment to hear a story idea, and the next morning she is found dead. Steele is known to have a temper, and is prone to violent outbursts, and Bogart plays this barely-suppressed rage masterfully. The scene where he describes how he thinks the murder took place is gripping.
I liked the way we are kept unsure for most of the film as to whether Steele is guilty of the crime. We assume he’s innocent, but he very easily couldn’t be, a feeling shared by his neighbour, drawn close to Steele during the investigation.
Choose film 6/10