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. Continue reading →
Bob and Jill (Leslie Banks and Edna Best) are holidaying in Switzerland with their daughter Betty (Nova Pilbeam), partaking in some kind of competition where Jill gets to show off her clay pigeon shooting skills, and they get the chance to meet up with their family friend Louis (Pierre Fresnay), who is involved in the skiing tournament. On the last evening of Louis’ stay he is shot whilst dancing with Jill, and his dying words set in motion a mission for the couple, as they must keep the contents of a hidden message secret, because their daughter’s life is at risk. Continue reading →
A funeral is being held for British World War I soldier and novelist Brodie (John Gielgud). The thing is, he isn’t dead, as Brodie has been recruited as a spy and renamed Richard Ashenden, and is being sent by the Q-like R (Charles Carson) to Switzerland in order to apprehend and kill a German spy, with the help of an overzealous assassin nicknamed The General (Peter Lorre). Upon arriving in Switzerland, Ashenden discovers a woman has already booked into his room, saying she is his wife, and when he enters his room he finds her to be the not-too-shabby form of Elsa Carrington (Madeleine Carroll), a fellow agent posted to assist Ashenden, but she is already entertaining another guest at the hotel (Robert Young). The three spies must work together, despite not necessarily all getting along, in order to find and stop their adversary before he completes his mission.
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.