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  • mistermuse 12:06 am on November 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Edward G. Robinson, gangster films, , , , Little Caesar, , The Public Enemy, The Roaring Twenties, Yankee Doodle Dandy   

    HOLLYWOOD’S GOLDEN AGE: THE “BAD” ACTORS 

    “The gangster film has always been one of the staples of the American cinema. Though the record shows that there were several motion pictures with a gangster theme as far back as the silent era, the genre did not really begin to flourish as a popular form until the thirties. Depression-era audiences responded strongly to all the action, violence and romance that these films contained, and were more than willing to get caught up in the colorful on-screen exploits of Edward G. Robinson,, James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. In a sense, the movie gangster, with the rebellious breaking of society’s rules and regulations, and his aggressive drive to “get somewhere” regardless of consequences, became something of a hero to filmgoers of the period.”
    “Robinson, Cagney and Bogart are, even today, the three actors most associated with films of this type, which isn’t surprising, since all three achieved their initial fame in a Warner Brothers [the king-of-the-hill gangster film studio] crime drama.”

    –Robert Bookbinder, author of CLASSIC GANGSTER FILMS

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    There were a lot of “bad actors” in Hollywood in those days. Robinson, Cagney and Bogart weren’t the only famous names to have become famous names playing bad guys in 1930s gangster films, but most (e.g. Peter Lorre) remained typecast as character actors. We will take a look at the “bad character actors” in our next post; this post will look to the stars.

    Quoting further from Robert Bookbinder’s excellent book CLASSIC GANGSTER FILMS, “Little Caesar [1931] was the first of the great gangster films. It made a star of Edward G. Robinson, who had been working in films since 1923, and it laid the groundwork for all the fine Warner Brothers gangster movies that followed.” Here’s a clip from the film:

    How tough was Edward G. Robinson? Tough enough to get Doris Day and Jack Carson out of a pickle:

    Just as Little Caesar made a star of Robinson, Warner Brothers’ second gangster film (later the same year), The Public Enemy, made a star of James Cagney. In this scene, after Cagney’s friend is shot to death by a gang, he vows revenge and arms himself with two 38s:

    By 1942, Cagney had made a clean break from the “gangs” — here he is in scenes from his Oscar-winning performance as showman George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy:

    As for Humphrey Bogart, he was the last of the three to attain stardom after years of supporting roles in gangster films. In The Roaring Twenties (1939), he is third-billed (Cagney stars):

    All three, as we know, went on to bigger (if not badder) things in such films as Double Indemnity (Robinson), Mister Roberts (Cagney), and, of course, Casablanca (Bogart), among many other memorable performances. Who says crime doesn’t pay?

     

     
    • calmkate 5:30 am on November 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      violence and crime … not a good mix! But thanks for the trip down memory lane 😎
      John Wayne is the same in every movie … these three could act 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    • Rivergirl 7:55 am on November 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Growing up I had a life size Bogie poster on my bedroom door. My Godfather grew up and was childhood friends with Jimmy Cagney. Wish he had lived long enough to tell me some stories…
      And did you know tough Edward G was actually an art connoisseur? He amassed an amazing collection in his lifetime recognizing talent before anyone else.

      Liked by 3 people

      • mistermuse 9:59 am on November 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you for that fascinating comment, Rg. I’m guessing your Bogie poster was from a scene in one of his most famous films, like CASABLANCA, MALTESE FALCON, or AFRICAN QUEEN.

        I too would’ve loved to hear your Godfather tell some Cagney stories. As for Edward G., I’ve read his extremely interesting autobiography titled ALL MY YESTERDAYS, so I did know about his art collection. Despite this tough guy image, he was actually “a man of wit, of dignity, and of great sensitivity” (so described by movie producer Hal Wallis, who knew Robinson well).

        Liked by 2 people

        • Rivergirl 10:54 am on November 1, 2019 Permalink

          Not sure what movie the poster was from. Trench coat, slouched hat, cigarette. Could have been any of them.
          My godfather grew up in a tough section of NYC, I bet the stories were colorful.
          And yes Edward G was the antithesis of his rough and tumble characters. Odd, that.

          Liked by 1 person

    • masercot 10:32 am on November 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      With Bogart as with Lorre, you always felt a little menace from them, even when they were playing benign roles…

      Liked by 3 people

      • mistermuse 3:08 pm on November 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Always with Bogart, ALMOST always with Lorre — my (tongue-in-cheek) exception is the first clip in my new post today.

        Liked by 1 person

    • literaryeyes 8:31 pm on November 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I loved Peter Lorre. Even when he was at his baddest I couldn’t help chuckling. Great actors who didn’t mind chewing up the scenery. The molls were good too, Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, etc.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 9:16 pm on November 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Lorre has long been a favorite of mine too, Mary. You may not know that he was a “song and dance man” in one of his last films — check out the SWEET SIBERIA clip in my new post today!

        Liked by 1 person

    • davidbruceblog 9:34 pm on November 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Reblogged this on davidbruceblog #2.

      Liked by 5 people

    • Silver Screenings 11:53 pm on November 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      James Cagney as gangster can be chilling, especially in “White Heat”, which is one of my fave Cagney performances.

      Yup, I’d say these three are the trifecta of bad guys. Talented actors, all.

      Didn’t Edward G. Robinson once say (and I’m paraphrasing): “Some actors have talent, some have good looks, and I have menace.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 1:43 am on November 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        I’m not sure about the Robinson quote — he may have said it, but I don’t remember it. He did indeed have menace, but not in all of his films – including one of my favs, DOUBLE INDEMNITY. He could also play menace for laughs, such as in the very funny LARCENY, INC.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Silver Screenings 10:31 am on November 17, 2019 Permalink

          I love his performance in Larceny, Inc. And his meek clerk in The Whole Town’s Talking, where he plays dual roles.

          Liked by 1 person

        • mistermuse 1:44 pm on November 17, 2019 Permalink

          Thanks for mentioning The Whole Town’s Talking – it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it.
          Have you read Robinson’s autobiography, ALL MY YESTERDAYS? I’m sure you would enjoy it.

          Like

  • mistermuse 12:01 am on April 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Edward G. Robinson, , flim noir, gangster movies, , , , , , , , , The Naked Gun   

    GANGSTER WRAP 

    I trust that you remember my March 30 post titled HOLLYWOOD, DEAD LEFT ON VINE. If not, maybe you could use a nudge from Police Lt. Frank Drebin to refresh your memory:

    Maybe now you remember: my March 30 opus delicti distinguished between film noir (theme of that post) and gangster movies (this post’s theme), while allowing for crossover in films like WHITE HEAT (classified as film noir in one book, and gangster film in another). To anyone not ‘into’ such films, these thorny details may strike one as nothing more than a distinction without a difference….but I’ll assume you aren’t “anyone,” because I’ve got a job to pull — I mean, a post to write — and the subject ain’t roses.

    That’s odd. I could have sworn the subject was not roses.

    Wait a shrouded minute! Now I remember — the subject was supposed to be gangster movies. My bad. Sorry for the hold up.

    In the introduction to his book CLASSIC GANGSTER FILMS, by (appropriately enough) Robert Bookbinder, he writes: “The gangster film has always been one of the staples of the American cinema. Though there were several motion pictures with a gangster theme produced as far back as the silent era, the genre did not really begin to flourish until the thirties, when it reigned throughout the decade as one of the public’s favorite kinds of “escapist” entertainment. Depression-era audiences responded strongly to all the action, violence and romance, and were more than willing to get caught up in the on-screen exploits of Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. In a sense, the movie gangster, with his rebellious breaking of society’s rules and regulations, and his aggressive drive to “get somewhere” regardless of consequences, became something of a hero to filmgoers of the period.”

    It is worth noting that, although the gangster film by no means passed completely out of the picture, its most productive period (1930 to 1941-42) led to the era of classic film noir (1941-59)….which began with THE (never-surpassed) MALTESE FALCON. The above three stars were equally without rival in both genres.

    Bookbinder’s book binds together the above transition, providing a fascinating look back at 45 gangster films (several overlapping into film noir), complete with credits, cast, commentary, photos and synopsis for each film, ranging from LITTLE CAESAR in 1930 to BONNIE AND CLYDE in 1967 and THE BROTHERHOOD in 1969. Of the latter, Bookbinder states: “It was not especially successful, and it has been almost completely overshadowed in film history by the more expensive and elaborate Godfather films of the early seventies. The picture deserves a better fate….what a truly entertaining gem it is.”

    Now, I will admit that, in general, I am not as big a fan of gangster films as I am of film noir. I have an affinity for the more tangled and convoluted plots (in most cases) of the latter, compared to the more macho and less sophisticated gangster films….but then, “sophisticated” is not a term one normally associates with gangsters — so, by Sam, let’s call a spade a Spade. It’s not a bum rap.

    But there is one bailiwick in which gangster films win hands down — I mean, hands up! (ha ha) — and that is in gangster film spoofs such as the all-time classic, SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959), which lost out to (would you believe?) BEN-HUR in practically every Academy Award category for that year. Oh, well — nobody’s perfect. 😦

    And that’s a wrap.

     

     

     
    • linnetmoss 7:14 am on April 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      According to Variety, Liam Neeson is on board to play Sam Spade in a new movie. He’s not the actor I would have thought of, but I’ll give him a chance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 10:49 am on April 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Haven’t seen much of Neeson since SCHINDLER’S LIST (I don’t keep up with the current movie scene much anymore), but unless he’s aged really well in the last 24 years, he seems a bit long in the tooth for Sam Spade. I, on the other hand, would be perfect for the part of Methuselah if they decide to make a movie about him.

        Liked by 2 people

        • linnetmoss 6:43 am on April 11, 2017 Permalink

          He has aged well, since he’s still playing action roles in his 60s, but I agree that it’s a bit of a stretch.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 7:35 am on April 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      The Gangster films live on of course and some were even funny. Not ‘Some Like It Hot’ funny but still funny. Funny how you might ask?

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 10:59 am on April 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Good one, Don. Another Don (Rickles), who just died four days ago, couldn’t have played it any better

        Liked by 1 person

    • arekhill1 10:48 am on April 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Has anyone ever done a gangster film in total “Airplane” style? Bet it would be a hoot.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 11:12 am on April 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        I hear that plans for such a film are up in the air right now, Ricardo, but we can always hope (just like you can always hope that most of my puns don’t fall flat).

        Liked by 1 person

    • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC 12:08 am on April 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Groaned my way down through the comments to “Leave a Reply” primarily to make sure I said thanks for the HOT clip. One of my favorites. The only possible reason it lost out to Ben Hur was that the Academy voters were “not very bright” that year! (always love MM – another severely under-rated talent, IMHO)

      I vote with you on Noir vs. Gansta’ btw. Another great post.
      xx,
      mgh
      (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
      ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
      “It takes a village to educate a world!”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mél@nie 2:27 pm on April 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      @”Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart…” – holy Molly!!! THE Dream-team, by excellence… 🙂 btw, Edward G. Robinson was born in Romania, like me… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 3:51 pm on April 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Speaking of three-member Dream teams, how about Edward G. Robinson, you….and Bela Lugosi, all born in Romania!

        Like

    • mitchteemley 5:15 pm on April 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I never get tired of watching Some Like it Hot.

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:01 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Dashiell Hammett, Edgar Allen Poe, Edward G. Robinson, , , Howard Hawks, , , , , movie poster art, , , Raymond Chandler, , ,   

    HOLLYWOOD, DEAD LEFT ON VINE* 

    The film noir of the classic period (1941-59) is normally associated with the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood and its aftermath. In truth, the creative impetus for its most influential literary content dates back a full century.
    In April 1841, Graham’s Magazine in Philadelphia published the first detective story, The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe and thus, mystery fiction was born. –
    -Lawrence Bassoff, CRIME SCENES

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    In my 11/30/16 post titled BOOKS RIGHT DOWN MY ALLEY, I wrote of finding a large cache of old movie books at a local library’s used book sale. One of those books was CRIME SCENES (subtitled Movie Poster Art of the Film Noir), from which the above quote is taken. How could I resist buying such a book, given that Film Noir has long been one of my favorite film genres, which includes such classics as THE MALTESE FALCON (1941), MURDER MY SWEET (1943), DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944), LAURA (1944), THE BIG SLEEP (1946), SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950), and STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951). The introduction states it “is the first genre retrospective collection of movie poster art on the topic ever published in book form.”

    Bassoff writes that in the summer of 1946, ten American films whose French releases had been blocked by WW II (including the first five of the above) arrived in Paris theaters to be viewed by “new product-starved French filmgoers”….films based on American novels the French called “Serie Noire” by such authors as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. The term “film noir” (first attributed to Frenchman Nino Frank in 1946) literally means “black film” for the “often low key, black and white visual style of the films themselves.”

    And what great films they are! Even after having seen some of these films more than once, I could return to the scene of the crime once again;  no doubt you could too — assuming you’re a film noir buff, which it would be a crime if you’re not. The test? Can you name at least half of the directors and stars of the above films? Answers (directors in CAPS):

    THE MALTESE FALCON — JOHN HUSTON (making his directorial debut), Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet
    MURDER MY SWEET — EDWARD DYMTRYK, Dick Powell
    DOUBLE INDEMNITY — BILLY WILDER, Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
    LAURA — OTTO PREMINGER, Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price
    THE BIG SLEEP — HOWARD HAWKS, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall
    SUNSET BOULEVARD — BILLY WILDER, William Holden, Gloria Swanson
    STRANGERS ON A TRAIN — ALFRED HITCHCOCK, Farley Granger, Robert Walker

    Moving on: if Basssoff’s book were not confined to Hollywood film noir, no such list would be complete without THE THIRD MAN (1949), a British-made classic directed by Carol Reed, starring Orson Wells and Joseph Cotton. And of course there are many other Hollywood tour de force classics worthy of being kept alive, including such killer-dillers as:

    WHITE HEAT is considered by some to be in the gangster film realm rather than film noir, but there’s no law against crossover — in fact, WHITE HEAT is classified as film noir in CRIME SCENES and gangster film in CLASSIC GANGSTER FILMS (the latter being another used book sale find, which I may review in a future post). Meanwhile, I highly recommend the former — as Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) said of the bogus Maltese Falcon: It’s “the stuff dreams are made of.” And nightmares.

    *HOLLYWOOD, DEAD LEFT ON VINE is a play on the famous intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. I heard on the grapevine that the site was a ranch, and then a lemon grove, until 1903.

    20161005_Hollywood_and_Vine_historical_marker

     

     
    • linnetmoss 7:03 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Good fun–I will never forget the creepiness of seeing Fred MacMurray in “Double Indemnity,” after growing up with him in Disney movies like “Son of Flubber”!

      Liked by 3 people

      • mistermuse 7:41 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Now that you mention it, I recall thinking the same thing the first time I saw “Double Indemnity.” And I can’t think of a better way to characterize these ‘bad’ movies than as “good fun” — seriously!

        Liked by 2 people

    • arekhill1 10:29 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Living la vida noire out here on the Left Coast, Sr. Muse. Did you see that the head of the European Union was going to start advocating for US states to leave the Union in retaliation for Trump promoting the dissolution of the EU? Ohio was specifically mentioned. Hopefully, I won’t need a passport to visit you if I ever get the chance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 11:24 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        I hadn’t heard (or seen) that, Ricardo, but I think the best place to start would be to advocate for Trump to leave the union….better yet, leave the planet (though I can’t imagine that the inhabitants of any other world would be gullible enough to fall for Trump’s con job).

        Like

    • BroadBlogs 4:28 pm on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      My mom loves old movies. She’d love this list!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:22 pm on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Prudence dictates keeping my posts to a reasonable length, or I’d have listed many more movies. Sometimes I wish Prudence would mind her own business! 😦

        Like

    • Don Frankel 5:04 pm on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Great movies of course I’ve seen them all and more than once. They did a remake of Out Of The Past called Against All Odds with Jeff Bridges, Rachel Ward and James Woods. In a bit of smart casting they also had Jane Greer in there.

      But White Heat is one of the all time any type of movie you want to call it and no mention of it would be complete without…

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:20 pm on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        These movies had it all: great writing, atmosphere, directors, stars, supporting casts — the works. I’ve only watched WHITE HEAT once or twice, but I’ve seen MALTESE FALCON and THE THIRD MAN at least 5 or 6 times each, DOUBLE INDEMNITY and SUNSET BOULEVARD probably about 3 times.

        Like

    • Mél@nie 11:00 am on March 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I did watch them all… just like you, I may have seen “Maltese Falcon” 4-5 times! 🙂

      • * *

      @film noir – en français dans le texte, SVP… 🙂 MERCI, Monsieur Muse!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 5:34 pm on March 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Mercy me — I fear my very limited French fails me in getting the gist of the sentence before “SVP” (which I understand stands for “s’il vous plait”). If you please, please translate into English. Merci!
        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mél@nie 3:25 am on April 5, 2017 Permalink

          SVP = s’il vous plaît = please… 🙂 you’re too modest, Sir… my very best and respectful regards, Mélanie Bedos

          Liked by 1 person

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