A scene between John Garfield and Marie Windsor in the crime drama written and directed by Abraham Polonsky in 1948.
Windsor: You’re wide open, Joe. I can see into you without looking.
Garfield: Don’t bother. Besides, it’s not nice to do.
Windsor: More interesting when you have a rock for a husband like mine. He’s a stone that man. The whole word are rocks and stones to him.
Garfield: Why tell me? Tell him.
Windsor: I never tell him anything. Makes me feel unnecessary.
Garfield: If I make you feel necessary, I’m making a mistake.
Torrid Zone is a 1940 tropical adventure picture filled with comedy. It was written by Richard Macaulay and Jerry Wald, and directed by William Keighley, who worked with James Cagney (one of the movie’s stars), many times in his career. Paired with Cagney is Pat O’Brien who plays his rival; he’s the kind of rival who belongs only in old Hollywood pictures (he plays tricks and cheats you, you steal his woman, he steals yours, but in the end you’re friends). And at the center of Torrid Zone there is a woman, a beautiful woman: Ann Sheridan. She’s a singer and a card cheat. She gets kicked out of town and put on a boat by O’Brien but not before Cagney sees her and falls for her looks as well as her card-dealing skills.
It’s a great Hollywood picture, meaning that it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. All the acting is sharp, the dialogue is the kind long gone extinct from the movies (clever and witty without being self-conscious). It was all shot on Studio sets and the entire scenario a big sham and thank god.
Here is some dialogue from the movie I liked very much. This happens the day after Cagney gets cheated by Sheridan, as he is walking through his banana plantation with high-voiced Andy Devine. Sheridan comes out of nowhere.
Devine: You sure cover a lot of ground.
Cagney: Come on, hand over that dough.
Sheridan: What are you talking about?
Cagney: The three hundred books you clipped me for last night.
Sheridan: Well I never tagged you for a bad loser.
Cagney: And I never tagged you for a phony shuffle either.
Sheridan: Now wait a minute mister, you got yours all off the top. I just had a run of luck.
Cagney: I know that kind of house luck. Alright, hand it over.
Sheridan: I haven’t got it.
Cagney: Haven’t got it, huh? Want me to turn you upside down and shake it out of you?
Devine: Can I stand here and watch?
He shakes her upside down. She gives in and hands him the money.
Sheridan: You needn’t strain your mathematics, it’s all there.
Cagney: If you think you’re going to use this plantation for a hideout, you’re daffy. You’re going right back to town on the next train
Devine: That’s tomorrow.
Cagney: Well then it’s your job to pack her with the bananas and unload her.
Devine: You got any more jobs like that?
“I don’t mind saying that this is one of the finest meals I’ve ever had… this is honest food, there’s no lying in that beef, there’s no insincerity in those potatoes, there’s no deceit in the cauliflower. This is a totally honest meal. You don’t know what a pleasure it is this day and age to sit down and eat food you can believe in.”
The Heartbreak Kid was written by Neil Simon from a story by Bruce Jay Friedman and was directed by Elaine May. It stars Charles Grodin and Cybill Shepherd.
I love the way this movie begins.
An alarm clocks sounds, loud and annoying. I wouldn’t say that it wakes Alan Ladd up, because it doesn’t look like he’s asleep or that he ever really does, maybe this professional killer can never rest. Anyway, I’ll say that the alarm alerts him. He checks a letter with an address. He grabs a gun. He gets ready to go, then he hears something at the window. It’s a kitten. He lets it in.
He pours some condensed milk out of a can and the kitten drinks. Moments later, a woman enters. She’s attractive and from her dress I can gather that she is a maid. She sees the kitten. She calls it a filthy animal and knocks it away from the milk. Ladd appears. His hand goes to her blouse and tears a sleeve off.
“Keep your dirty hands off me,” she says. So he slaps her.
“Go on, beat it,” he says. She does. He pets the cat and leaves.
This Gun for Hire isn’t a great movie. It’s a decent one with some good scenes. Later in the movie, Ladd has to strangle a cat to keep it quiet while he’s hiding out with Veronica Lake. He puts the cat’s corpse down and says that he wishes he could be like that: asleep.
In the middle of the tangled mystery that is The Big Sleep, there is this little scene I want to tell you about.
After asking a phony bookshop for a “Ben-Hur 1863, third edition with a duplicate line on page 116″ with no success, Bogie’s Marlowe travels across the street to a real bookshop where he runs into a clerk (Dorothy Malone). She’s a young girl, plain with glasses: a real looker.
She gets the drift. There is no such book. The dialogue goes something like this.
She: You begin to interest me, vaguely.
He: I’m a… private dick on a case. Perhaps I’m asking too much, although it doesn’t seem too much to me, somehow.
She describes the man Bogie is looking for.
He: You’d make a good cop.
She: You gonna wait for him to come out?
She: Well, they don’t close for another hour or so. It’s raining pretty hard.
He: I got my car.
Then he sees the look on her face.
He: That’s right, it is isn’t it? You know it just happens I got a bottle of pretty good rye in my pocket. I’d a lot rather get wet in here.
She shuts the door to the shop and turns the sign over to CLOSED.
She: Looks like we’re closed for the rest of the afternoon.
This is one of my favorite scenes in movies, and certainly one of my favorite Hawks scenes. The Big Sleep was directed by him, Howard Hawks, in 1946, it stars Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It was adapted from the novel by Raymond Chandler; the screenwriters were William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett and Jules Furthman.
Ned walks up to Matty. They are strangers.
Ned: You can stand here with me if you want but you’ll have to agree not to talk about the heat.
Matty: I’m a married woman.
Ned: Meaning what?
Matty: Meaning I’m not looking for company.
Ned: Then you should have said, ‘I’m a happily married woman’.
Matty: That’s my business.
Matty: How happy I am.
Ned: And how happy is that?
Matty: You’re not too smart are you?
She starts to walk away.
Matty: I like that in a man.
Ned: What else do you like? Lazy? Ugly? Horny? I got ’em all.
Matty: You don’t look lazy. Tell me, does chat like this work with most women?
Ned: Some, if they haven’t been around much.
Matty: I wondered, thought maybe I was out of touch.
Ned: Can I buy you a drink?
Matty: I told you. I’ve got a husband.
Ned: I’ll buy him one too.
Matty: He’s out of town.
Ned: My favorite kind, we’ll drink to him.
Matty: Only comes up on weekends.
Ned: I’m liking him better all the time.
She stubs out her cigarette.
Ned: You better take me up on this quick. In about forty five minutes, I’m going to give up and go away.
Body Heat (1981), written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan.
Young Girl: “Where does poetry come from?”
Charles: “You show me your titties and I’ll compose a poem, just for you.”
Charles: “Ever heard the sound of one mouth screaming? I have for years… my own. I didn’t want to go home, I didn’t want to see anybody. I just wanted to be invisible for a few days, to get down in the dirt, ooze myself with all the others, the defeated, the demented, and the damned. They’re the real people of this world and I was proud to be in their company. ”
Tales of Ordinary Madness, written by Marcos Ferreri and Sergio Amidei, adapted from the book Erections, Ejaculation, Exhibitions, and General Tales of Ordinary Madness by Charles Bukowski
“They spoke for a moment and then she went downstairs to meet him.”
“Yes, meet him. And when they left the hotel, he had his arm around her. You know what that means to me, he had his arm around her? Here, like this. He could’ve had a gun. Like this. Here. Pointed right at her. Shut up, smile, walk, out of the lobby. Huh? Like this, huh?”
“Yes, yes, it could mean that. Or they could have just be having a good time.”
“Mr. Shep, you’re talking about my wife. You must be thinking about yours.”
-Roman Polanski and Gerard Brach
“I think Harry would like me to leave.”
“I don’t think that’s necessary.”
“I think Harry thinks it is.”
“Harry thinks if you call him Harry one more time he’s going to make you eat that cat.”
-Alan Sharp, screenplay.
“I thought you outta know that the governor didn’t sign that reprieve.”
“And tomorrow morning, Earl Williams dies, makes a sucker out of it…
“Well, what are you going to do about it?”
“Get the governor on the phone.”
“Can’t locate him. He’s out fishing.”
“How many places to fish are there?”
“Well, at least two, the Atlantic and Pacific.”
“What I came up here to tell you is that you must stop phoning me a dozen times a day, sending me twenty telegrams.”
“I write a beautiful telegram, don’t I? Everbody says so.”
“Are you going to listen to what I have to say?”
“Look, look, what’s the use of fighting, Hildy. I’ll tell you what you do. You come back to work on the paper and if we find we can’t get along in a friendly fashion, we’ll get married again.”
-Charles Lederer, Screenplay
-Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, Play