East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Keep watching the skies

I re-watched Christian Nyby’s/Howerd Hawks’ 1951 The Thing from Another World last night – because it was half a lifetime since the last time I had watched it, and because it’s coming up in a future episode of our podcast. And while I’m saving a lot of intelligent (…) observations for the podcast, there’s two things that struck me, and I feel like sharing here on the blog.

But first, a bit of history…

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Humphrey and Lauren’s First Time: To Have and Have Not (1944)

I spent about two hours in the company of Bogart and Bacall.
To have and Have Not in Italian was called Acque del Sud (Southern Waters), and it was one of those movies that once were a staple of afternoon programming, before TV stations discovered the joys of reality and talent shows.

Of course, To have and Have Not is Faulkner adapting Hemingway (that’s TWO Nobel-prize winners for the price of one), and Howard Hawks directing.
You can’t get any better than that.The plot is thin – and there’s not much of the original stories by Hemingway in it – but there are a number of elements that make this one of my favorite movies. Continue reading


Hatari!, 1962

Hatari_(movie_poster)What with the death of Elsa Martinelli and all that, I went and re-watched Howard Hawks’ Hatari!, a movie shot in 1962, partially in Africa, and scripted by the great Leigh Brackett, featuring John Wayne, Red Buttons, Hardy Kruger and the above-mentioned Elsa Martinelli.
Ass to that the soundtrack, composed by Henry Mancini, and you have the perfect recipe for a big hit.
And indeed, in 1962, Hatari! was the eight highest grossing movie in the US.

I never liked Hatari!
Yes, the African wildlife scenes are gorgeous, the action is breathtaking and – bear with me as I repeat myself like a broken record – Martinelli is breathtaking.
But the movie is… bah.
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The Second Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon: Twentieth Century (1934)

I blame the heat and the overworking – I completely forgot about the Second Annual Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon.
I mean… forgetting about the Barrymores?
And call myself a film lover? Ah!


But there’s still time, and here we go – hosted by the In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood blog, this blogathon celebrates one of the most famous families in Hollywood.
John Barrymore, Ethel Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore all the way to Drew Barrymore…
So, point your browser to the link above for a full list of the blogs participating in this online event.

And then come back here, because we are about to ride on a train called Twentieth CenturyContinue reading

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Other People’s Pulp: The Hawksian woman

62c6a44de21381ca7e7aedd4f06a0a6fIt was all because of Carole Lombard.
So beautiful it hurt, and very talented, actress Carole Lombard1 was the queen of the screwball comedy movies, and back in the days she was the highest paid star in Hollywood.

I think I first got struck by Lombard when I first saw Ernst Lubitsch‘s To Be or Not to Be, and afterwards I tried to track as many of her movies as possible.
I like her very much2.
It was by reading up on Lombard that I got deeper into screwball comedies, the so called sex comedies without sex that Hollywood developed to counter the Hays Code.

What fascinates me to this day is the fact that screwball comedy is sort of the mirror opposite of the noir genre.
Sexual tension, gender politics and the roles of man and woman in society, class struggle and social critique are all there, as is the idea of the male lead being somewhat dazed and confused, and a victim of his own role – it was all there in both genres, played for thrills in noir, and for laughs in screwball comedy. Continue reading