We’ve had daunting weather since New Year’s Eve. The adventure began with the ice storm we had on New Year’s Ever followed by bitterly cold temperatures for the following week. It got so cold that for the first time ever in my life, I saw the French Broad River freeze over. According to our local meteorologist, the first seven days of the year have been the coldest in recorded history for the beginning of a year, having below freezing temps every day, some mornings going down to single digits, finally ending yesterday by reaching 60°, a virtual heat wave!
And suffering from an extreme case of cabin fever (I sure can’t go out and play golf in this weather!), I’ve had so much time to indulge in my habit of reading and channel surfing. Thanks to my wifey Lynndee, she continued the tradition of books as Christmas gifts, so that kept me busy for awhile.
BOOK AND MOVIE COMBOS
But I also filled many other hours reveling in classics past in the realm of movies, thanks to my DVR. There’s been many movies over the years that I’ve loved whose original genesis was a book, such as From Here to Eternity. Then there was the Robert Redford baseball movie The Natural based on the book by Bernard Malamud which, as is the case with many adaptions, isn’t faithful to the book’s plot. There’s also Eight Men Out, another book to movie combo, about the ill-fated 1919 Chicago White Sox throwing the World Series.
ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIES
But one of my all time favorite movies was based on a book I had already read before the movie, Shoeless Joe, telling the story of a star of that White Sox team, Joseph Jefferson Jackson. He got the nickname “Shoeless” due to taking his cleats off during a mill game due to blisters caused by the new cleats. The movie that came from this book is what I consider a classic baseball movie, Field of Dreams. And all three of these baseball movies tie into the story of Shoeless Joe, but Field of Dreams is all about Joe.
But over the past few days as well as weeks, I’ve been wrapped up in watching not baseball movies, but movies with one of my all-time favorite actors, Humphrey Bogart. Of course, the first movie most think of with him is Casablanca. Yes, that is one I have saved on my DVR. I consider it to be more a great love story than a drama. But his first major starring role was The Petrified Forest. In it he reprised the role he’d had in the Broadway production of this work because the star, Leslie Howard, insisted Bogart get the part or he wouldn’t make the movie. Thus, Bogie’s career truly began.
The Bogie movies I’ve recently watched, some for the first time ever, are The Petrified Forest; High Sierra, his first lead role; The Big Sleep; Key Largo; In a Lonely Place; Sabrina; The Desperate Hours; and The Harder They Fall. Of course there’s classics I’ve seen over the years like The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The African Queen.
But most telling to me was the roles in which he portrayed such a dark character that truly showed the strength of his acting ability, such as the role of Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest. Or Fred C. Dobbs in the Treasure of the Sierra Madre. But a Bogie I’d never seen was the character Dixon “Dix” Steele in the movie In a Lonely Place, a powerful film noir in which he portrayed a troubled screenwriter suspected of murder, living a troubled life full of failure and anger, a performance which is now considered among one of his finest.
BOGIE AND BACALL
No story of Bogie, though, is complete without telling of the movies he did with Lauren Bacall who became his wife. The first one they made, where they first met, was To Have and Have Not, followed by The Big Sleep. After that one, they married and did two more films, Dark Passage and Key Largo. I have all of them saved on my DVR but have yet to watch Dark Passage.
It’s interesting in the aspect that Bogie is not seen in the first part of the movie; those early scenes are shot from other perspectives with the camera always positioned so that its field of view does not include his face because the plot has him getting plastic surgery to hide his identity until he can clear himself from a charge of murder. The majority of the pre-surgery scenes are shot from Bogie’s point of view. But the other three which I have seen are powerful classics, that not only feature the acting abilities of both Bacall and Bogart but also share with he world the obvious love they share in real life. And what better true love story could there be than that, one captured on film forever.