Author: Kate Fitzpatrick

In effect of personal transformation, in search of both spiritual and concrete self-actualization, nineteenth-century soldier Jeremiah Johnson (Robert Redford) embarks upon a lonesome venture into the Rocky Mountains. While at first his drive outweighs his ability, his persistence against such archetypal threats (starvation, cold weather, solitude, and an accentuated threat of Native American “savages”) garners his esteemed reputation. Here, wilderness survival gives way to mythmaking. His position between the local Native American tribes and urban pressures gives witness to a series of both horrific and fulfilling incidents. These are the adversities that make JEREMIAH JOHNSON (1972) a cult classic.

Harry Fabian is a scumbag. He’s a two-bit, no-good hustler, stepping and stumbling over everyone in his ongoing fight for a slice of the proverbial pie. In one of the early scenes of Jules Dassin’s 1950 classic, NIGHT AND THE CITY, Harry is combing through his girlfriend’s apartment, looking for money to put towards gambling or scheming. She comes in midway, and he sheepishly says he was looking for the cigarettes. She doesn’t buy it, and neither does anyone else. When we meet him, he’s the town laughingstock, a tired racehorse whose tricks are well known to everyone around him.

TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944) was the first film to throw together the now legendary on and off screen couple, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Their chemistry is immediately apparent on screen, full of clever jabs, inside jokes, Bacall’s sultry, taunting eyes, and Bogart’s amused half smile. From moment to moment it is a cat and mouse game between them, though you never know for sure who is the cat and who is the mouse. While the plot of the film falls a bit short and feels like a noir version of a CASABLANCA (1943) remake, Bogart and Bacall’s on screen spark ultimately makes this a great film. It’s like watching two kids with a chemistry set: each adding elements that may cause an explosion, and each watching the other to see who will flinch first. Bogart and Bacall are so great in this film just being the Bogart and Bacall we love, that the jumbled plot about the French resistance feels secondary, and separate from their romance.

February 11, 2016 /