I’m a movie guy. For me, cinema is the ultimate archive of humanity’s last gasp…an archive and a mirror, reflecting back to us our best and worst qualities, impulses, desires and proclivities. On a personal level, the films I’ve seen throughout my life are like mileposts, each movie has a connected memory attached to it; the small story of how I came to watch it, what ways it affected me and where I was at that point in time (physically and mentally). For the next 365 days, I am committing myself to see – at least – one film a day, which I will not only review but also diarize my associated thoughts. Why do I choose the movies that I do? How did I feel when I made the selection? Was some sort of anxiety gnawing at my chest? Did I just ingest a poisonous tuna melt from the unreliable diner down my block?
Here are the rules – there are no rules, journalistic or otherwise. The genre/era of film is of no consequence…only the reason why I picked it. It can be something I see in the theatre, but more likely it’ll be a streaming deal. I don’t have cable…so probably a flick off YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, or iTunes.
It’s a grand experiment, to be sure. At the end, I hope to gain some insight into how our daily lives influence the reasons we watch the movies we do, and in turn, how the movies we watch influence our daily lives. I think I’ll call it…shit what do I call it? Daily Movie? Nah…too mundane. My Movie Year? Nope…too…something. Living With Movies? Sounds like I’ve got a disease. Hmmm…how about, 365: A Cinematic Sojourn? Now, that has a bit of class – and alliteration. I think I’ll go with that…for the time being anyway.
26 June 2017
Long day at the office. I need a drink. Johnnie red and his walking stick of doom. I’m in the mood for a Film Noir. Something I can turn my mind off to. I want to get lost in the rat-a-tat patter of the dialogue. I’m a Noir aficionado…I’ve forgotten more than most people have seen. Scotch has been poured. My father recently recommended a Phillip Marlowe he just watched on YouTube called The Brasher Doubloon. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it. I’ll take a chance. Ok…here we go – I’ll see you on the other side.
Review: The Brasher Doubloon (1947)
Wow. A very competent effort indeed. It begins in typical Raymond Chandler fashion – Marlowe arrives on the case. There’s the beautiful damsel in distress, the crusty geriatric client…and the task at hand. Marlowe needs to find a stolen coin – the Brasher Doubloon. The opening sequence is very reminiscent of The Big Sleep, with the old bat sitting imperiously in her wicker chair. George Montgomery ably handles the role of Marlowe. He’s no Bogey or Powell, but a solid second stringer. His performance smacks of a poor man’s Clark Gable. Hey, I’ll take it. Nancy Guild plays the damsel in distress, a put upon secretary named Merle Davis. She reminds me of a poor man’s Lizabeth Scott. If Gable and Scott had starred in this flick, it could have been a classic. Instead, it’s a solid B effort, which in a way, I actually enjoy even more. I think the Bs generally outshine the As in the genre.
It’s a predictably convoluted plot, as are all Chandler mysteries. Merle is being gaslighted by her boss, Elizabeth Murdock (Florence Bates) and made to think she’s crazier than she actually is. All dames are crazy, but she’s no crazier than the rest. The doubloon was stolen from Murdock by her sniveling son Leslie (Conrad Janis) in exchange for a film that is being used to blackmail him. Merle is traumatized…she believes she’s killed Elizabeth’s husband…she flinches at a man’s touch. Marlowe gives her an education. As Marlowe delves deeper into the investigation, the corpses pile up. Where’s the doubloon? Where’s the incriminating film? Don’t worry…Marlowe’s on the case. It turns out that Elizabeth Murdock was the one who did away with her husband. Merle is redeemed. All Chandler plot points are represented…he receives his ubiquitous beatdown and the leading lady falls for his snappy charm. Ultimately Marlowe figures it all out and exonerates Merle. He finds the blackmail film and plays it for the cops. Merle is grateful…she’ll learn to enjoy the touch of a man…Marlowe will teach her.
Final Verdict: It’s a solid B Noir. Montgomery is a bit too eager and breezy in the role of Marlowe, but he makes a decent effort. Nancy Guild fares better. She’s Lizabeth Scott without the perpetual head cold. Her performance was one-note but she well-conveyed the frigidity of her character.
How I feel: Loose as a goose…I’ve had about three Johnnies. I’ll down another and then slip off into the ‘big sleep’.