My favorite scene in movie history. Perfect from start to finish, it takes the viewer (literally) full circle and up and down through the climatic first meeting between Harry Lime (Welles) and Holly Martens (Joseph Cottens). It also features the best music in film noir history and, quite possibly, the one speech in movie history that should give Wolves hope for something other than a cuckoo clock at the end of the madness. Just watch it, old man.
Johnny, meet the goddess. Goddess, try to remember his name. Gilda, staring the poster on Andy's wall (the greatest pinup in
movie human history), Margarita Carmen Cansino Rita Hayworth, is the story of a South American casino boss who...well, it's about Rita Hayworth. Rita, Rita, Rita. Do they even make movie stars like this anymore? Jennifer Lawrence and ScarJo are the only ones with a chance, right? Larger than life, bigger than the screen, dramatic just by being there.
Seriously, what has happened to film noir? Our best and most impactful movies are musicals and Film Noir. Why have we only been able to produce LA Confidential, Blade Runner, and Chinatown as the only great Film Noirs of the last 40 years? Truly, this is the greatest sign of American decline. Oh, ok. Mulholland Drive counts, too.
Anywho, this one features a nearing-the-end-of-the-road Bogey in a role that takes the viewer on several twists and turns, sharply written lines, and....MURDER. Violence and addiction simmer below Hump's surface and, amazingly, he finds a way to bring the role home....WHILE STILL BEING THE ROMANTIC LEAD. Hey girl, I might get drunk and kill you but...you look lovely tonight. Suspense! Thrills! Treating the audience like they can read complete sentences!
3 minutes, 20 seconds. The greatest single tracking shot in movie history. And that's how this bad boy opens. What can you possibly follow that up with? How about Charlton Heston as a Mexican cop? A border crossing multi-ethnic marriage in the 50s? The craziest drug freak out sequence in pre-60s cinema? Fat Orson having his 50s version of Citizen Kane destroyed by the studios and bad casting? Check, check, check, and check.
DO YOU REALIZE I HAVEN'T KISSED YOU IN OVER AN HOUR?
It also inspired Robert Altman to do this:
I have a running argument with my brother (who has a degree in Theater Production and loves him some movies): Sunset Boulevard could not be made in today's movie market and Gloria Swanson's portrayal of silent film star Norma Desmond is the single greatest acting performance in the history of film, community theater, Broadway, you name it. That's it, that's the pinnacle...yet, she'd never be allowed to get away with that sort of bit today.
Is that fair? Is it even close to being true? Whatever the case, over-the-top is sometimes the f'ing point and there are few scenes in movie history that deserve to be preserved in amber and shot into space as being representative of our culture, capabilities, and capacity for creativity like this one does. She's ready for her close up.
Holy crap I love Film Noir. WHERE HAVE YOU GONE!!!
(BTW: You have to watch the "I'm big. It's the pictures that got small" line. Another priceless classic. "I thought this was an empty house." Holy crap. People used to know how to write movies.)
OK, I lied. There are a few more modern Film Noirs worth checking out. Red Rock is at the top of the list. A bad situation with a possibility for it to go worse + money + a good natured lead + ...well, just watch it and try and remember when Nic Cage had a future. (BTW: Blood Simple is another neo-noir to check out.)
OK, I lied once again. Also, I'll say it until I'm blue in the f'ing face: Matthew McConaughey is an American f'ing treasure. In this slow building burn, Chris Cooper plays the son of McConaughey in a battle against the past. Kris Kristofferson, border politics, racial tension, murder, American treasure Matthew McConaughey...you need to see this movie.
OK, folks. That about does it for the Wiz preview. Let's forget the negative and focus on the positive: Film Noir is an American gift to the world and there needs to be more of it. Also, Matthew McConaughey is an American treasure.
Go Wolves and NOT IN THE FACE!!!
BTW: Check out our blogging buddies for the day over at Bullets Forever.