Wonderworks Moving Pictures: Day 14, 15, and 16
The students claimed they liked M*A*S*H but they didn’t laugh and they were troubled by the overlapping dialog. The claimed to like The Quiet Man, but they had yet to encounter a fiery red-headed Irish temperament in real life so they felt Maureen O’Hara’s character was bi-polar. They did laugh at the appropriate time and applaud when it was all said and done. They were confused by the plot in The Big Sleep but even the writers were confused by the plot of the Big Sleep, but you know that William Faulkner guy must have just been some Hollywood hack writer. Faulkner and Leigh Bracket were working on the screenplay and adapting it from Raymond Chandler’s novel of the same name. They were unable to figure out who kills a chauffeur in the novel or if the chauffeur kills himself. So, they contacted Raymond Chandler and his response was something to the effect of “I don’t know. I must have just put it in there to advance the plot.”
Marlowe does quite well with the ladies in this film. When you’ve got enough action on the line you can turn down the crazy Carmen’s advances, you are living well. Bogart is hit on by Carmen, Vivian, a blonde librarian, a cab driver, and a brunnete bookstore manager who kills an hour with him. We have a Hayes office production code fade out fade in on a new shot. So, we can easily guess what the tow of them did in that hour. But, the real sparks flew between Bogart and Bacall. This scene where they are ostensibly discussing horse racing was added over a year after the film had been completed. The studio wasn’t going to release the picture until someone wrote a letter to the studio head with suggestions on how to fix it. They went back and added some scenes of Bogart and Bacall to amp up the sexual tension. Here’s the dialog from one added scene.
Vivian: Speaking of horses, I like to play them myself. But I like to see them workout a little first, see if they’re front runners or comefrom behind, find out what their whole card is, what makes them run.
Marlowe: Find out mine?
Vivian: I think so.
Marlowe: Go ahead.
Vivian: I’d say you don’t like to be rated. You like to get out in front, open up a little lead, take a little breather in the backstretch, and then come home free.
Marlowe: You don’t like to be rated yourself.
Vivian: I haven’t met anyone yet that can do it. Any suggestions?
Marlowe: Well, I can’t tell till I’ve seen you over a distance of ground. You’ve got a touch of class, but I don’t know how, how far you can go.
Vivian: A lot depends on who’s in the saddle.
The real treat of the day was a visit from one of my former students at UH. Ragland “Rags” Williamson graduated about five years ago and has been getting his Masters at UCLA film school. He was one of only three students selected for the Cinematography program. He’s back in Houston and working on his thesis. He stopped by and spent about 40 minutes before the film answering questions. He stayed for The Big Sleep and then spoke individually with some of the kids after the film.