East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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


On the border with Bogart & Bacall

1And talking about Old Time Radio.

There’s a series about a guy with a boat.
He’s an adventurer, and in the early ’50s he gets involved in a series of intrigues, mysteries and thrilling adventures. He moves on the border between the civilized world and the changing water margin of islands and ports and strange places.
The series takes its name from the name of his boat.

Only it’s not The Corsair – much as the basic premise appears to be the same.
It’s called Bold Venture, and the hero of the piece is Humphrey Bogart.
And there’s Lauren Bacall in it, too!
I can only hang my head and accept the fact that I’ve been trumped.
And I can enjoy the show, of course. Continue reading


The African Queen (1951)

The-african-queen-1-As I said, I rewatched John Huston’s The African Queen, from 1951.
And I’m pretty glad I did – because I’ve seen it so often that I knew the story almost by heart, and this time I concentrated on a number of details that, when I was younger, I missed.So, let’s do away with the plot.

So, let’s do away with the basic plot.
According to IMDb…

In Africa during WWI, a gin-swilling riverboat captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship.

Which is pretty straightforward.
The film – based on a book by C.S. Forester, is set in 1914 and it does involve the hare-brained plan cooked up by Rose Sayer (Katharine Hepburn) and Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart) to sink the Luisa, a German gunboat patrolling a lake 1The movie’s a great adventure yarn, a comedy, a drama, a love story. One of the greatest film of all time. Do they still make them like this? I doubt it. Continue reading



$T2eC16Z,!)oFIem9qvv,BSPwymvbP!~~60_35One of the perks of living in a rural area in depressed Northern Italy is the easy availability of cheap, high-quality hats.
People hereabouts still wear a hat every day – and if the dread agrochemicals-sponsored baseball cap is spreading as the standard working headgear of tractor-riders, slowly replacing the straw trilby with a sponsored band, out of the fields a lot of people still favor what goes under the name of lòbia.
The standard Borsalino hat.
What’s universally known as a fedora hat1.
And this is good, because in these autumn days I need a new fedora.
Continue reading


The many faces of Marlowe

long-goodbyeMy friend Giulia – she has just started her new blog, and you should check it out – suggested a fun idea, the other day: why not do a post about Philip Marlowe.
About Philip Marlowe at the movies.
About the actors that were Marlowe in the movies.
And I thought… why not?

Because you see, Philip Marlowe is a small wonder – a pulp character that made thegrade to serious literature without even trying.
Ray Chandler‘s work is there to defuse any argument about popular literature as inferior narrative, as a lesser art.
Marlowe – and Chandler – have become, without really trying, the champions of a whole body of literature. Continue reading

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Bogart Estate Neo-noir on IndieGogo

A very quick post to point out a worthy – and fun – campaign on IndieGogo.

The Estate of Humphrey Bogart produced an independent noir movie called This Last Lonely Place.


Now they are financing the launch and distribution of the film through a crowdfunding.
The gist of the thing – you shell out 8 bucks, you watch the movie in streaming, or download it before its release.

You pledge more, you get a cartload of perks.

But check out the campaign – it’s quite interesting.