Tag: cigarette

January 22, 2010 / / Main Slate

By Melvin Cartagena                      

The Long Goodbye – 1973 – dir. Robert Altman

“If being in revolt against a corrupt society constitutes being immature, then Philip Marlowe is extremely immature. If seeing dirt where there is dirt constitutes social maladjustment, then Philip Marlowe has inadequate social adjustment. Of course Marlowe is a failure, and he knows it. He is a failure because he hasn’t any money…A lot of very good men have been failures because their particular talents did not suit their particular time and place.” – Raymond Chandler

In the first shot of The Long Goodbye, Marlowe (Elliott Gould) wakes up as if from a deep sleep. In time he demonstrates he is a stranger in a strange land, an intruder from a different time attempting to grok the  free-floating morality of the sprawling city of twenty-four hours supermarkets and Laundromats, and neo-flower children practicing yoga naked, and new-age healers. Marty Augustine (Mark Rydell) punctuates this temporal dislocation in Marlowe when he refers to the gumshoe as Rip Van Marlowe, the victim of a long sleep that has thrust him into a time and place that has no love for a man of ethics, a man who cares. This is more than can be said for the police, who in typical noir-pulp fashion first arrest Marlowe, then grill him relentlessly for three days about Terry Lennox’s (Jim Bouton) escape to Mexico hours after the brutal killing of his wife Sylvia, and finally cut him loose after Terry’s confirmed suicide down in Mexico. One more for the books in the precinct, but this makes no sense to Marlowe, so it’s up the world-weary knight in tarnished armor to set things right in his mind.

November 3, 2009 / / Main Slate

Mr. Skeffington (1944) – dir. Vincent Sherman

The great Bette Davis had many cinematic tricks up her sleeve. Three of these held her in good stead over a nearly-seventy year career: her eyes, her voice, her cigarette.

Never enough can be said about the famous “Bette Davis eyes”; they had their own three-ring circus going; they cartwheeled, they jumped, they batted, they flew, they flirted, they lied, they fluttered, they drooped.  They were wet with tears when she wanted to deceive some man. They raised their joys to heaven and poured their poisons into the cups of those who worshiped at their altar.  Davis knew what to do with them, and even when she over-used or over-relied on them, there seemed to be a reason for it.  Entities unto themselves,  they worked overtime for her and made her the finest screen actress of her time.