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Saturday, March 2
The Indiana Daily Student

arts

Double feature ends semester for City Lights

A Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall double feature played last Friday night at Ballantine Hall 013 as part of the City Lights Film Series, sponsored by the Department of Communication and Culture. Despite the cold and slush roughly 30 people showed up to watch the 16mm screening fall semester finale of City Lights.\nThe first show was "To Have and Have Not" (1945) which was released by Warner Brothers. It was based on Ernest Hemingway's book of the same title. Set in 1940 Vichy French controlled Martinique, Bogart played Harry Morgan, a crusty, tough-talking American living on the island who butters his bread by taking rich tourists on deep sea fishing trips. While at sea, Morgan takes jibes at his client's fishing skills with his sea going companion Eddy, played by Walter Brennan.\nAfter one of Morgan's clients winds up stiffing Morgan out of his money, Bogart's character has to find other ways to make money. His most readily available job offer is to help the free French sympathizing hotel keeper smuggle some of his buddies from one part of the island to another.\nWell suited to help in his task is the 22-year-old Lauren Bacall who made her screen debut as "Slim." The character name came from director Howard Hawks' wife Nancy, whose nickname was Slim.\nBogart played the hard-nosed pragmatist who usually knows how to keep himself and friends out of trouble. Bogart is typed as playing an abrasive tough guy who has the market cornered on cigarettes and matches. His lines wouldn't have had the same effect if the cigarette wasn't flip-flopping around between his lips while the dialogue escaped his larynx.\nLauren Bacall's character is far from the typical meek and tender lover interest you often see playing the female lead. On the contrary, she's a vivacious pick-pocket who's got just as many street smarts as Bogey. And she hasn't just got stones -- she's got the whole quarry.\nThe way the two play off of each other is wonderful to watch. Early in the film when Slim first meets Morgan, he tosses her a box of matches that she catches and tosses right back with a little heat. \nLauren Bacall demands your attention when she is onscreen in this film.\n"The Big Sleep" (1946) was the second feature of the evening. Another Warner Brothers flick, the film's production date roughly matches that of "To Have and Have Not." It wasn't released right away because studio executives were trying to build up Bacall's career. It was probably a good idea, since it worked.\n"The Big Sleep," also directed by Howard Hawks, has Bogart playing the hard-boiled private eye Phillip Marlowe. In this film Marlowe pokes around through a maze of intrigue as he tries to help the old and frail General Sternwood fend off an insidious blackmailer. But not only does blackmail play a part, so do frequent breakings of the first commandment.\nBogart plays Marlowe whose got witty and often caustic comeback for everything. In most scenes he's either smoking a cigarette, getting a gun pulled on him or pulling a gun on someone else. It's funny because at one point, Marlowe has disarmed so many people he says something along the lines of "People keep on giving me guns." It's the way he says it. The sentiment behind it is, "now what am I going to do with this. I've only got another 30 in the trunk of the car."\nBacall plays the character Vivian Rutledge, a woman who is out to protect her aging father, her flake of a sister and herself. Like any female lead in a detective noir film, she's got more angles than a trapezoid.\nThe film, based on the work by novelist Raymond Chandler, is an example of film noir, a style characterized by its intense use of shadows, complex plots and an extensive use of night time lighting. It gives the audience a feeling of unease because of the evil that stalks the protagonist.\nAnd talk about complex plots. I needed a score card to keep track of the plot, and I finally just gave up.\nDirector Howard Hawks worked closely with screenwriter William Faulkner and said of the plot, "I never figured out what was going on…I'm never going to worry about being logical again."\nYou know you're in trouble when the director can't even figure out what's going on. A humorous anecdote that comes from the film involves Hawks and Faulkner having trouble with the script because they couldn't figure out who killed the chauffeur. Frustrated, the two telephoned author Chandler. Chandler didn't know himself.\nThis film was confusing, complex and completely enjoyable.

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