November 16, 2012
Flyopen Country and the stuff that dreams are made of: The only things that interest me about the Petraeus scandal…
Are the two most obvious bits — that apparently nobody in Big (Male?) Pundit will touch:
And that other dame is about as “37” as I am.
Seriously: Someone send Holly a copy of Atol’s book.
No need to worry about Ms 1-800-BATSHIT-CRAZY, though. She’ll land on her knees if she works very VERY fast (see “37,” above.)
“Listen, when you’re a married guy and you start to f**k around with women, you’ve got to go with crazy women…”
TCM broadcast The Maltese Falcon the other night. I am indebted to Rick McGinnis for explaining to me the real mystery at the heart of the film:
Why does everyone in the film pretend like Mary Astor is so damned “very striking and attractive”?
This is not the same naturally soft-focus Mary Astor who becomes every grown man’s fantasy halfway through their first viewing of Dodsworth — “fantasy” because she is both ethereal and grounded. Try looking up that combo on J-Date.
The Astor of Falcon is pinched, so self-consciously overdressed — wearing all her “good” clothes at once to make the “best” possible first impression — faux-needy, with hollowed out eyes… She’s like Ayn Rand off her meds if Ayn Rand had been on meds to begin with.
After multiple viewings, I still didn’t get it. In fact, “it” just got worse for me the older I got.
And why didn’t John Huston see this flaw? Was he contractually obligated to use Astor? No, in fact, they were sleeping together. Although I supposed one doesn’t necessarily cancel out the other. This sexual set up did nothing to “Minnelli” Astor in Falcon, just the opposite — which, now that I think of it, raises disturbing questions about the sexual prowess (or something) of raving queen Vincent vs man’s man Houston…
In fact, Astor comes very close to being the “Toto” of the movie — the “thing” that’s so off it’s a miracle it didn’t ruin the entire flick.
Rick McGinnis pointed out (and I am probably about to mangle his observation) that the Falcon Astor is all those things, and knows it, and so does everyone else in the film, including Bogart.
What we’re seeing is something that you don’t see often enough in cinema: the femme immediately post-fatale. What 99% of cinema seductresses presumably turn into after “The End.”
The thing is, Astor’s character had hit her best-before date about six months before the story begins for us, somewhere in Istanbul, perhaps. That’s how she managed to insinuate herself into the scheme in the first place.
Astor’s residual “it” is just plentiful enough to get her — barely — through the length of the film. (Look at those under eye wrinkles — is she tilting her head back because she’s spent time with a mirror trying to figure out how to make them less visible?)
When Bogart “sends her over” at the very end, she’s used the last of “it” up and can’t be bothered trying to fake it anymore. She looks like squeezed out lemon dressed as a ghost for Halloween:
He’s trying to convince himself (and her) that he’ll “wait for her” and all that. Given his half-assed affair with the movie’s other aging-needy-flighty-phony broad, this makes a sort of “in character” sense.
But it’s (intentionally, I hope) his worst acting in the movie.
We kind of wish he’d wise up and finally get it over with with his secretary — the “thankless job” “best gal pal” character who whats-her-name later perfected in Rear Window — except the secretary’s not as competent and savvy as Bogart tells her (and himself) think she is. (Remember: her “women’s intuition” tells her that Astor’s all mixed up but “OK” deep down.)
But at least the secretary’s not a clingy bundle of neuroses, crumpled Kleenex and old out of state misdemeanor charges.
Yet. Maybe screwing Philip Marlowe brings that out in a dame.
PS: “It’s really ‘O’Shaunessey’.” That would’ve been my cue to cut my losses and run. (The notion that the film noir “hero” is a man who isn’t quite as smart as he thinks he is can’t possibly be original to me.)
I’m so glad Sal Mineo got killed before he was obliged to become a professional Peter Lorre imitator in his old age, aren’t you?