Posts Tagged ‘film noir’

Double indemnity is a legal term: it is a provision or clause in a life insurance or accident policy whereby the company agrees to pay twice the face of the contract in cases of accidental death. Legalese wording may be dry as dust but Billy Wilder could make it still sparkle as star dust. The pixie magic of movies makes even the tawdry dream of murder for gain seem very possible. It is always fascinating how a decent tax-payer who might balk at the idea of filing false returns laps up films reeking with the basest of human passions as portrayed in Double Indemnity. Having said the above the film is a classic in the film-noir genre and it has became part of the Hollywood mainstream.
The plot is simple: A frowsy housewife ( in a hideous blond wig) weaves a plan to do away her man with the help of an insurance agent and nearly gets away with it.
The movie was based on the true story of Ruth Snyder, the subject of a notorious 1930s murder trial. James M Cain who wrote The Postman Rings Twice improved on the bald facts of the case. His dark novella dealt with greed into which nothing is sacred, marriage or human life while each twist and turn of the story was dealt kinesthetically by Billy Wilder with a gravedigger’s sure touch to turn up dirt. There are other famous talents here: Raymond Chandler had his hand in writing the script along with Wilder. Musical score was from Miklós Rózsa. Barbara Stanwyck was the first choice and when she demurred at the brutal side of her role and expressed her concern to Billy Wilder, he asked her, “Are you a mouse or an actress?” Billy Wilder had a tough time getting a leading man for this film: many actors, including George Raft turned the project down. He had to persuade Fred MacMurray to accept the part. Of course he acquitted himself well in the role of Walter Neff, a salesman for the Pacific All-Risk insurance company. The other principal character is Edward G. Robinson as Barton Keyes, a claims adjuster,a friend and colleague of Neff.

Walter Neff (MacMurray) is a successful insurance salesman for Pacific All-Risk. But when he returns to his office building in downtown Los Angeles late one night, we know there is something very wrong. Neff is clearly in pain, and he sits down at his desk and tells the whole story into a dictaphone, for his colleague Barton Keyes (Robinson), a claims adjuster.

It is the story of how he meets Phyllis Dietrichson (Stanwyck) during a routine house call to renew an automobile insurance policy for her husband. A cheap affair develops as with a man who has head for figures but his heart is not actively engaged and who knows his senses are inflamed with some cheap perfume from a woman alone in her unmade drawing room, and she hints that her man had just left the coast clear for some smooching if he could figure that out. Well Neff sees the possibilities and is interested until Phyllis wonders how she could take out a policy on her husband’s life without him knowing it. Neff knows his cheap flirting has dirt under the carpet where he might get down for a roll. Oh boy, she has murder in mind and he wants no part of it.

Having tasted stolen bread in secret, Neff must deal with the proverbial aftertaste of it. Phyllis is the pursuer and she catches him in his own home and persuades him to that the two of them, together, should kill her husband. Neff who had played straight for long knows and up front knows instantly all the tricks of his trade: and comes up with a plan in which Phyllis’s husband will die an unlikely death, in this case being thrown from a train. Pacific All-Risk will therefore be required, by the “double indemnity” clause in the insurance policy, to pay the widow twice the normal amount.

Keyes, a tenacious investigator, does not suspect foul play at first, but eventually concludes that the Dietrichson woman and an unknown accomplice must be behind the husband’s death. He has no reason, however, to be suspicious of Neff, someone he has worked with for quite some time and admires.

Neff is not only worried about Keyes. The victim’s daughter, Lola (Jean Heather), comes to him convinced that her stepmother, Phyllis, is behind her father’s death because Lola’s mother also died under suspicious circumstances when Phyllis was her nurse.

Once he realizes that Phyllis is playing him for a sap and also seeing another man – Lola’s boyfriend – behind his back, Neff believes the only way out is to murder Phyllis himself. But she has had the same thought; when they meet, she shoots him first. Neff, badly hurt, is still able to shoot and kill her.

Neff then drives to his office. There he dictates his full confession to Keyes, who arrives in person just in time to hear the last of the gory details and see his dying friend Neff collapse to the floor.

By the way Wilder shot an alternate ending to the film (to appease censors), featuring Neff paying for his crime by going to the gas chamber. This footage is lost, but stills of the scene still exist.
Scripting the film:

Apart from the racy content- a tale of adultery and premeditated murder for hire, and the language the way two geniuses could work together is itself an interesting sidelight
Wilder, working for Paramount Pictures, acquired the rights to Cain’s novella but creating a screenplay from it was a challenge. For the Austrian-born Wilder who was yet to get total command of English. His American writing partner Charles Brackett refused to work on the film. Paramount and Wilder tried to get James M. Cain to co-write the screenplay but he was under contract for another studio. After reading The Big Sleep, Wilder decided that Raymond Chandler would be a good choice. ‘Cain’s crime story was intact but now it featured witty dialog that was a combination of 1930’s machine-gun chatter (especially Robinson’s speeches) and the laid-back hip dialog that would be Chandler’s trademark. The result is a screenplay that actually ends up being more sexual than the novella’(filmnoiroftheweek.blogspot.com)
Raymond Chandler hated the experience of writing the script with Billy Wilder so much that he actually walked out and would not return unless a list of demands was met. The studio acceded to his demands and he returned to finish the script with Wilder who claimed that he flaunted his womanizing ability at the time to torment the sexually-repressed Chandler.(wikipedia)

Other cast

* Porter Hall as Mr. Jackson
* Jean Heather as Lola Dietrichson
* Tom Powers as Mr. Dietrichson
* Byron Barr as Nino Zachetti
* Richard Gaines as Edward S. Norton, Jr.
* Fortunio Bonanova as Sam Garlopis
* John Philliber as Joe Peters

Other films inspired by the Snyder-Gray murder include The Postman Always Rings Twice (also based on a Cain novel) and Body Heat. Both Postman and Double Indemnity were remade, with Double Indemnity being a “made-for-TV” movie in 1973 starring Richard Crenna, Lee J. Cobb, and Samantha Eggar.
Academy Award Nominations

* Best Actress in a Leading Role (Barbara Stanwyck)
* Best Cinematography, Black-and-White
* Best Director (Billy Wilder)
* Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture
* Best Picture
* Academy Award for Best Sound, recording
* Best Writing, Screenplay

Critical response
In his review, film critic Roger Ebert praised director Wilder and cinematographer Seitz. He wrote, “The photography by John F. Seitz helped develop the noir style of sharp-edged shadows and shots, strange angles and lonely Edward Hopper settings.”

* The character Walter Neff was originally named Walter Ness, but director/writer Billy Wilder found out that there was a man living in Beverly Hills named Walter Ness who was actually an insurance salesman. To avoid being sued for defamation of character, they changed the name.

* The scene where Neff and Dietrichson can’t get their car started after the murder, was added by Wilder after his car wouldn’t start at the end of a shooting day.

* Dick Powell wanted the role of Walter Neff, but he was under contract to another studio and they wouldn’t allow it. He was enraged and tore up his contract. The role went to Fred MacMurray.

* The blonde wig that Barbara Stanwyck is wearing throughout the movie was the idea of Billy Wilder. A month into shooting Wilder suddenly realized how bad it looked, but by then it was too late to re-shoot the earlier scenes. To rationalize this mistake, in later interviews Wilder claimed that the bad-looking wig was intentional.

• In the first scene in which Walter first kisses Phyllis, we see a wedding ring on Walter’s hand. Fred MacMurray was married and the ring was not noticed until post-production.

* The victim, Mr. Dietrichson, is an oil company executive. Screenplay writer Raymond Chandler was an oil company executive before he became a writer.

* Silver dust was mixed with some subtle smoke effects to create the illusion of waning sunlight in Phyllis Dietrichson’s house.

* We never learn the first name of Mr. Dietrichson.

* Various studios expressed interest in the story when it first appeared in serial form in 1935 but realized it was unfilmable within the strictures of the newly-established Production Code.

• On viewing the film’s rushes, production head Buddy G. DeSylva remarked of Barbara Stanwyck’s blonde wig, “We hired Barbara Stanwyck, and here we get George Washington”!
* In the scene where Phyllis is listening at Neff’s door as he talks with Keyes, Keyes exits into the hallway and Phyllis hides behind the door. The door opens into the hallway, which isn’t allowed by building codes even back then, but it does give Phyllis something to hide behind and increases the tension.

Memorable Quotes:
Walter Neff: You’ll be here too?
Phyllis: I guess so, I usually am.
Walter Neff: Same chair, same perfume, same anklet?
Phyllis: I wonder if I know what you mean.
Walter Neff: I wonder if you wonder.
[last lines]
Walter Neff: Know why you couldn’t figure this one, Keyes? I’ll tell ya. ‘Cause the guy you were looking for was too close. Right across the desk from ya.
Barton Keyes: Closer than that, Walter.
Walter Neff: I love you, too.
Walter Neff: It’s just like the first time I came here, isn’t it? We were talking about automobile insurance, only you were thinking about murder. And I was thinking about that anklet.
Barton Keyes: Have you made up your mind?
Jackson: Mr. Keyes, I’m a Medford man – Medford, Oregon. Up in Medford, we take our time making up our minds.
Barton Keyes: Well, we’re not in Medford, we’re in a hurry.
Barton Keyes: They’ve committed a murder and it’s not like taking a trolley ride together where they can get off at different stops. They’re stuck with each other and they’ve got to ride all the way to the end of the line and it’s a one-way trip and the last stop is the cemetery.
Walter Neff: Do I laugh now, or wait ’til it gets funny?
Walter Neff: How could I have known that murder could sometimes smell like honeysuckle?
Walter Neff: Suddenly it came over me that everything would go wrong. It sounds crazy, Keyes, but it’s true, so help me. I couldn’t hear my own footsteps. It was the walk of a dead man.
Walter Neff: Yes, I killed him. I killed him for money – and a woman – and I didn’t get the money and I didn’t get the woman. Pretty, isn’t it?
Phyllis: I was just fixing some ice tea; would you like a glass?
Walter Neff: Yeah, unless you got a bottle of beer that’s not working.
Barton Keyes: I picked you for the job, not because I think you’re so darn smart, but because I thought you were a shade less dumb than the rest of the outfit. Guess I was wrong. You’re not smarter, Walter… you’re just a little taller.
[Norton, Keyes's boss, has just tried, unsuccessfully, to convince a client that her husband's death was a suicide]
Barton Keyes: You know, you, uh, oughta take a look at the statistics on suicide some time. You might learn a little something about the insurance business.
Edward S. Norton: Mister Keyes, I was RAISED in the insurance business.
Barton Keyes: Yeah, in the front office. Come now, you’ve never read an actuarial table in your life, have you? Why they’ve got ten volumes on suicide alone. Suicide by race, by color, by occupation, by sex, by seasons of the year, by time of day. Suicide, how committed: by poison, by firearms, by drowning, by leaps. Suicide by poison, subdivided by TYPES of poison, such as corrosive, irritant, systemic, gaseous, narcotic, alkaloid, protein, and so forth. Suicide by leaps, subdivided by leaps from high places, under the wheels of trains, under the wheels of trucks, under the feet of horses, from STEAMBOATS. But, Mr. Norton: Of all the cases on record, there’s not one single case of suicide by leap from the rear end of a moving train. And you know how fast that train was going at the point where the body was found? Fifteen miles an hour. Now how can anybody jump off a slow-moving train like that with any kind of expectation that he would kill himself? No, no soap, Mr. Norton. We’re sunk, and we’ll have to pay through the nose, and you know it.
Jackson: These are fine cigars you smoke.
Barton Keyes: Two for a quarter.
Jackson: That’s what I said.
Walter Neff: Who’d you think I was anyway? The guy that walks into a good looking dame’s front parlour and says, “Good afternoon, I sell accident insurance on husbands… you got one that’s been around too long? One you’d like to turn into a little hard cash?”
Walter Neff: They say all native Californians come from Iowa.
Phyllis: I’m a native Californian. Born right here in Los Angeles.
Walter Neff: They say all native Californians come from Iowa.
Phyllis: We’re both rotten.
Walter Neff: Only you’re a little more rotten.
Phyllis: Mr. Neff, why don’t you drop by tomorrow evening about eight-thirty. He’ll be in then.
Walter Neff: Who?
Phyllis: My husband. You were anxious to talk to him weren’t you?
Walter Neff: Yeah, I was, but I’m sort of getting over the idea, if you know what I mean.
Phyllis: There’s a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff. Forty-five miles an hour.
Walter Neff: How fast was I going, officer?
Phyllis: I’d say around ninety.
Walter Neff: Suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket.
Phyllis: Suppose I let you off with a warning this time.
Walter Neff: Suppose it doesn’t take.
Phyllis: Suppose I have to whack you over the knuckles.
Walter Neff: Suppose I bust out crying and put my head on your shoulder.
Phyllis: Suppose you try putting it on my husband’s shoulder.
Walter Neff: That tears it.
[first lines]
Building attendant: Well, hello there, Mr. Neff.
Barton Keyes: Now that’s enough out of you, Walter. Now get outta here before I throw my desk at you.
[looks in his pocket for a match]
Walter Neff: [takes a match of his own and lights Keyes' cigar] I love you, too.
Walter Neff: I really did, too, you old crab. Always yelling your head off, always sore at everybody. You never fooled me with your song and dance, not for a second. I kinda always knew that behind all the cigar ashes on your vest was a heart as big as a house.
Phyllis: I think you’re rotten.
Walter Neff: I think you’re swell – so long as I’m not your husband.
Phyllis: Get out of here.
Walter Neff: You bet I’ll get out of here, baby. I’ll get out of here but quick.
Edward S. Norton: That witness from the train, what was his name?
Barton Keyes: His name was Jackson. Probably still is.
Barton Keyes: Walter, you’re all washed up.
Barton Keyes: What’s the matter? Dames chasing you again? Or still? Or is it none of my business?
Walter Neff: If I told you it was a customer, you’d…
Barton Keyes: “Margie”! I bet she drinks from the bottle.
Phyllis: Do you make your own breakfast, Mr Neff?
Walter Neff: Well, I squeeze a grapefruit now and again.
Barton Keyes: Well, I get darn sick of tryin’ to pick up after a gang of fast-talking salesmen dumb enough to sell life insurance to a guy who sleeps in the same bed with four rattlesnakes.
Barton Keyes: The job I’m talking about takes brains and integrity. It takes more guts than there is in 50 salesmen. It’s the hottest job in the business… Desk job? Is that all you can see in it? Just a hard chair to park your pants on from 9 to 5, huh? Just a pile of papers to shuffle around and five sharp pencils and a scratch pad to make figures on. Maybe a little doodling on the side. Well, that’s not the way I look at it, Walter. To me, a claims man is a surgeon. That desk is an operating table. And those pencils are scalpels and bone chisels. And those papers are not just forms and statistics and claims for compensation, they’re alive, they’re packed with drama, with twisted hopes and crooked dreams. A claims man, Walter, is a doctor and a bloodhound… and a cop and a judge and a jury and a father confessor all in one. And you want to tell me you’re not interested. You don’t want to work with your brains. All you wanna work is with your finger on the doorbell, for a few bucks more a week.
Walter Neff: I get the general idea. She was a tramp from a long line of tramps.

Directed by Billy Wilder
Produced by Buddy G. DeSylva
Billy Wilder
Raymond Chandler
Narrated by Fred MacMurray
Starring Fred MacMurray
Barbara Stanwyck
Edward G. Robinson
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Victor Schertzinger
Cinematography John F. Seitz
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Running time 107 minutes
Budget $927,262
Similar Movies
Body Heat (1981, Lawrence Kasdan)
Ascenseur Pour L’Echafaud (1957, Louis Malle)
Kill Me Again (1989, John Dahl)
Niagara (1952, Henry Hathaway)
Seduced (1985, Jerrold Freedman)
Too Late for Tears (1949, Byron Haskin)
The File on Thelma Jordon (1949, Robert Siodmak)
The Pushover (1954, Richard Quine)
The Woman in the Window (1944, Fritz Lang)
The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001, Joel Coen)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Five Graves to Cairo (1943, Billy Wilder)
The Apartment (1960, Billy Wilder)
Stalag 17 (1953, Billy Wilder)
Ace in the Hole (1951, Billy Wilder)
The File on Thelma Jordon (1949, Robert Siodmak)
A Foreign Affair (1948, Billy Wilder)
Some Like It Hot (1959, Billy Wilder)
Going My Way (1944, Leo McCarey)
Other Related Movies
is featured in: Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993, Woody Allen)
Femme Fatale (2002, Brian De Palma)
is related to: The Moonlighter (1953, Roy Rowland)
There’s Always Tomorrow (1956, Douglas Sirk)
Slightly Scarlet (1956, Allan Dwan)
Bad Education (2004, Pedro Almodóvar)
In perspective:
Double Indemnity was released September 1944 and it became a classic for well merited reasons. It is a dark, back-and-white tale of lust, greed and murder told in a flashback as with Wilders Sunset Boulevard. It stands apart from other films- noir of the time including The Maltese Falcon – and was a box office hit. Double Indemnity competed against romantic thrillers and Hollywood melodramas at the 1944 Oscars – the film lost the Best Picture award to the Bing Crosby-starrer Going My Way. .( ‘In 1992, Double Indemnity was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. The film was listed at number 38 on the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 American films of all time and at number 29 on the 10th Anniversary Edition of the list’-wikipedia)
(Ack:imdb,wikipedia, allmovie)

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This film established the reputation of John Huston as a creditable director and it came to him against great many checks that any young filmmaker would face when he is moving from one field to another. Young Huston was one of Hollywood’s hottest screenwriters and he wanted to try his hand into directing. He was certain he had the right material in Dashiell Hammett’s novel The Maltese Falcon though two earlier adaptations of Hammett’s novel were failures.( In 1931, a lack-lustre but faithful adaptation starred Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade. In 1936, it was reincarnated into a mystery-screwball comedy, called SATAN MET A LADY, starring Bette Davis.)
Warner studio boss Jack gave a reluctant go ahead, but advised that he would be working on a tight budget and on a short leash. Huston instructed his secretary to break down Hammett’s novel into scenes, leaving everything unchanged. By a curious twist of fate the studio mogul when Huston was away managed get his hands on what he thought was a script in progress. He was impressed. When Huston returned Jack Warner assured him that the production was ready to roll and the script was fine.
Huston had every reason to thank his lucky stars that such a mistake could pave the way for a thundering commercial success. What was more he won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for what was supposed to be a beginning outline. He never looked back with that kind of a success.
Even a runaway success on a fluke must have nuts and bolts to nail it to Cinema Hall of Fame. Apart from Huston’s solid knowledge derived from his screenplay days that gave him a nose for selecting stories that worked well on screen he had Humphrey Bogart in the role of San Francisco detective Sam Spade. Bogart had previously worked in High Sierra, which he wrote prior to his directing debut. In that film Bogart played a tough, no nonsense criminal Roy Earle.
In The Maltese Falcon Bogart as Sam Spade operated within the law. Huston as a writer tagged early on in the film the credo that struck a sympathetic chord in the viewers mind of the detective who was the protagonist: after his partner, someone he strongly dislikes, is waylaid and shot to death in the evening San Francisco fog Bogart lisps that when one’s partner is killed one is expected to do something about it.

Secondly he assembled a motley crew of offbeat criminals who stood out whether it was Sydney Greenstreet in girth or Pierre Lorre in his oily epicene crookedness. Then there was Elisha Cook Jr. who would appear in numerous films once again casting with Bogart in Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep.
Sydney Greenstreet at 61 made his film debut after appearing on Broadway for years playing butlers. (He again teams up with Bogart in Casablanca). Unlike most film-noir that feature criminals in unrelieved sinister cast (such as Neville Brand in D.O.A. or Mike Mazurki in Murder, My Sweet), the criminal trio pursuing the expensive and elusive Maltese Falcon are all too human: when Greenstreet attempts to be archly clever, putting one past street smart Bogart he shows he is only clever by half( In the hotel suite Spade Bogart playacting has Guttman bewildered; only when the detective storms out of the suite the close-up reveals him grinning with satisfaction and we realize the truth) ; the ilk of Cook or Cairo with his baby face are no match for Spade who takes particular delight in slapping the latter around.
Lastly the twist to the usual and predictable romance angle. Instead of the hero realizing his love or losing as often the case is, in this dark movie we have Bogart turning the woman for whom he was willing to fall like a load of bricks, over to the police. With that he resolves the conflict of interests: Mary Astor as Brigid O’Shaughnessy comes to Bogart as a client at the beginning. Like Rick Blain he may be earning a living in a murky world of man’s darkest passions and yet he has his own personal morality code; love plays no role in keeping its nose clean. He has fulfilled his promise to his partner whom he may not particularly care for. Yes when your partner is killed you are expected to do something about it.
The plot revolves around the Maltese Falcon a statuette that is like my Grandma’s Millions (see the sidelight). According to the legend In 1539, the Knight Templars of Malta, paid tribute to Charles V of Spain, by sending him a Golden Falcon encrusted from beak to claw with rarest jewels—–but pirates seized the galley carrying this priceless token and the fate of the Maltese Falcon remains a mystery to this day. ‘Huston seized on the sheer fabulousness of the gilded bird of the title, a virtual throwaway in the book. He made its journeys through centuries and across continents a wild offscreen picaresque, a spider’s web of intrigue from out of the near as well as the distant past that always threatens to snare Spade just as it has snared the three demented conspirators. These three — “Gutman” (Sidney Greenstreet) “Miss Wonderly/O’Shaughnessy” (Mary Astor) and “Joel Cairo” (Peter Lorre) became, in Huston’s hands, lovable gargoyles, creatures as improbable as the Falcon, and each as corroded with greed as the once-shimmering Falcon is coated with cheap enamel’(NY State writer’s Institute.)
Sam Spade is a gumshoe and he has his office complete with a partner and a girl Friday. When he and his partner Archer are hired to tail a rich eccentric by a woman who claims her sister is being unwittingly kept separated from her it seems like just another case. But when Archer is gunned down whilst tailing the eccentric the police are after him. The girl who asked him to follow the man turns out not to be who she says she is, and Spade is already well into a web of deception, and in the middle of which stands ‘the Maltese Falcon’.

Humphrey Bogart … Sam Spade
Mary Astor … Brigid O’Shaughnessy
Gladys George … Iva Archer

Peter Lorre … Joel Cairo
Barton MacLane … Det. Lt. Dundy
Lee Patrick … Effie Perine

Sydney Greenstreet … Kasper Gutman
Ward Bond … Det. Tom Polhaus
Jerome Cowan … Miles Archer
Elisha Cook Jr. … Wilmer Cook
James Burke … Luke
Murray Alper … Frank Richman
John Hamilton … District Attorney Bryan
Produced by
Henry Blanke …. associate producer
Hal B. Wallis …. executive producer
Directed by John Huston
Screenplay: John Huston
Novel: Dashiel Hammett

Original Music by
Adolph Deutsch

Cinematography by
Arthur Edeson (director of photography)

Memorable Quotes:

Sam Spade: I don’t mind a reasonable amount of trouble.
Joel Cairo: Look what you did to my shirt.
Brigid O’Shaughnessy: I haven’t lived a good life. I’ve been bad, worse than you could know.
Sam Spade: You know, that’s good, because if you actually were as innocent as you pretend to be, we’d never get anywhere.
Wilmer Cook: Keep on riding me and they’re gonna be picking iron out of your liver.
Sam Spade: The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter, eh?
Sam Spade: Ten thousand? We were talking about a lot more money than this.
Kasper Gutman: Yes, sir, we were, but this is genuine coin of the realm. With a dollar of this, you can buy ten dollars of talk.
Kasper Gutman: I couldn’t be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, its possible to get another. There’s only one Maltese Falcon.
Sam Spade: Haven’t you tried to buy my loyalty with money and nothing else?
Brigid O’Shaughnessy: What else is there I can buy you with?
Kasper Gutman: Here’s to plain speaking and clear understanding.
Spade: When a man’s partner is killed, he’s supposed to do something about it. It doesn’t make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you’re supposed to do something about it. And it happens we’re in the detective business. Well, when one of your organization gets killed, it’s-it’s bad business to let the killer get away with it, bad all around, bad for every detective everywhere.
Spade: We didn’t exactly believe your story, Miss O’Shaughnessy, we believed your 200 dollars. I mean you paid us more than if you had been telling us the truth, and enough more to make it alright.
Bryan: Who killed Thursby?
Sam Spade: I don’t know.
Bryan: Perhaps you don’t, but you could make an excellent guess.
Sam Spade: My guess might be excellent or it might be crummy, but Mrs. Spade didn’t raise any children dippy enough to make guesses in front of a district attorney, and an assistant district attorney and a stenographer.
Bryan: Why shouldn’t you, if you have nothing to conceal?
Sam Spade: Everybody has something to conceal.
Bryan: I’m a sworn officer of the law, 24 hours a day, and neither formality nor informality justifies you withholding evidence of crime from me. Except, of course, on constitutional grounds.
Sam Spade: [ranting] Now, both you and the police have as much as accused me of being mixed up in the other night’s murders. Well, I’ve had trouble with both of you before. And as far as I can see my best chance of clearing myself of the trouble you’re trying to make for me, is by bringing in the murderers all tied up. And the only chance I’ve got of catching them, and tying them up, and bringing them in, is by staying as far away as possible from you and the police, because you’d only gum up the works.
[turns to stenographer]
Sam Spade: You getting this alright, son, or am i goin’ too fast for ya?
Stenographer: No sir, I’m getting it alright.
Sam Spade: Good work.
Kasper Gutman: You’re a close-mouthed man?
Sam Spade: Nah, I like to talk.
Kasper Gutman: Better and better. I distrust a close-mouthed man. He generally picks the wrong time to talk and says the wrong things. Talking’s something you can’t do judiciously, unless you keep in practice.
[sits back]
Kasper Gutman: Now, sir. We’ll talk, if you like. I’ll tell you right out, I am a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk.
Sam Spade: Swell. Will we talk about the black bird?
Sam Spade: [impatiently] Now, let’s *talk* about the black bird.
Kasper Gutman: Let’s. Mr. Spade, have you any conception of how much money can be got for that black bird?
Sam Spade: No.
Kasper Gutman: Well, sir, if I told you… If I told you *half*… you’d call me a liar.
Sam Spade: No, not even if I thought so.
Sam Spade: If you kill me, how are you gonna get the bird? And if I know you can’t afford to kill me, how are you gonna scare me into giving it to you?
Sam Spade: When you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it.
Joel Cairo: You always have a very smooth explanation…
Sam Spade: What do you want me to do, learn to stutter?
Kasper Gutman: I distrust a man who says “when.” If he’s got to be careful not to drink too much, it’s because he’s not to be trusted when he does.
Sam Spade: You’re good. You’re very good.
Spade: I hope you’re not letting yourself be influenced by the guns these pocket edition desperados are waving around, because I’ve practiced taking guns from these boys before so we’ll have no trouble there.
Joel Cairo: You… you bungled it. You and your stupid attempt to buy it. Kemedov found out how valuable it was, no wonder we had such an easy time stealing it. You… you imbecile. You bloated idiot. You stupid fat-head you.
Sam Spade: You killed Miles and you’re going over for it.
[last lines]
Detective Tom Polhaus: [picks up the falcon] Heavy. What is it?
Sam Spade: The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of.
Detective Tom Polhaus: Huh?
Kasper Gutman: The best goodbyes are short. Adieu.
Kasper Gutman: By Gad, sir, you are a character. There’s never any telling what you’ll say or do next, except that it’s bound to be something astonishing.
Sam Spade: I hope they don’t hang you, precious, by that sweet neck. Yes, angel, I’m gonna send you over. The chances are you’ll get off with life. That means if you’re a good girl, you’ll be out in 20 years. I’ll be waiting for you. If they hang you, I’ll always remember you.
Kasper Gutman: These are facts, historical facts, not schoolbook history, not Mr. Well’s history, but history nevertheless.
Brigid O’Shaughnessy: He has a wife and three children in England.
Sam Spade: They usually do, though not always in England.
Brigid O’Shaughnessy: Mr. Archer was so alive yesterday, so solid and hearty…
Sam Spade: Stop it. He knew what he was doing. Those are the chances we take.
Brigid O’Shaughnessy: Was he married?
Sam Spade: Yeah, with ten thousand insurance, no children, and a wife that didn’t like him.
Brigid O’Shaughnessy: Help me.
Sam Spade: You won’t need much of anybody’s help. You’re good. Chiefly your eyes, I think, and that throb you get in your voice when you say things like ‘Be generous, Mr. Spade.’
Brigid O’Shaughnessy: I deserve that. But the lie was in the way I said it, not at all in what I said. It’s my own fault if you can’t believe me now.
Sam Spade: Ah, now you are dangerous.
Brigid O’Shaughnessy: I do know he always went heavily armed, and that he never went to sleep without covering the floor around his bed with crumpled newspapers, so that nobody could come silently into his room.
Sam Spade: You picked a nice sort of a playmate.
Brigid O’Shaughnessy: Only that sort could have helped me, if he’d been loyal.
Joel Cairo: I am prepared to pay five thousand dollars for the figure’s return. Do you have it?
Sam Spade: No.
Joel Cairo: But if it isn’t here, why did you risk serious injury to prevent my searching for it?
Sam Spade: Why should I sit around here and let people come in and stick me up?
Joel Cairo: But certainly it is only natural that I try to save the owner such a considerable expense if possible.
Sam Spade: People lose teeth talking like that. If you want to hang around, you’ll be polite.
Joel Cairo: I certainly wish you would have invented a more reasonable story. I felt distinctly like an idiot repeating it.
Sam Spade: Don’t worry about the story’s goofiness. A sensible one would have had us all in the cooler.
Sam Spade: All we’ve got is that maybe you love me and maybe I love you.
Brigid O’Shaughnessy: You know whether you love me or not.
Sam Spade: Maybe I do. I’ll have some rotten nights after I’ve sent you over, but that’ll pass.
Joel Cairo: Might I remind you Mr. Spade that you may have the falcon, but we certainly have you.
Sam Spade: You’re a good man, sister.
Sam Spade: Haven’t you anything better to do than to keep popping in here early every morning and asking a lot of fool questions?
Lt. Dundy: And gettin’ a lot of lyin’ answers!
Sam Spade: Take it easy.
Sam Spade: Here.
[hands him Wilmer's guns]
Sam Spade: You shouldn’t let him go around with these on him, he might get himself hurt.
Kasper Gutman: Well, well, what’s this?
Sam Spade: A crippled newsie took ‘em away from him. I made him give ‘em back.
[to Spade]
Joel Cairo: No, no. Our private conversations have not been such that I am anxious to continue them. Forgive me for speaking so bluntly, but it is the truth.
Sam Spade: You gotta convince me that you know what this is all about, that you aren’t just fiddling around hoping it’ll all… come out right in the end!
Sam Spade: [after disarming Wilmer] This’ll put you in solid with your boss.
Kasper Gutman: Well, sir, what do you suggest? We stand here and shed tears and call each other names… or shall we go to Istanbul?
Joel Cairo: Are you going?
Kasper Gutman: Seventeen years I’ve wanted that little item and I’ve been trying to get it. If we must spend another year on the quest… well, sir, it will be an additional expenditure in time of only… five and fifteen seventeenths percent.
Sam Spade: [to Brigid] Don’t be too sure I’m as crooked as I’m supposed to be!

(ack:imdb,William Hare, NY State Writer’s Institute)
My grandma had often hinted of leaving her millions. At her deathbed she had let it be known that the search for clues was left in her family Bible. This was what I had heard when I was a kid. After years it turns up in my possession and on the fly leaf I read, “ The verses in red are worth millions. If only I could cash in hereafter.”
compiler: benny

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Bonnie and Clyde is considered a landmark film in cinema history: it broke many taboos and was popular with the younger generation as was The Graduate released in the same year.
The line “We rob banks” ranks at #41 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movie Quotes.
Some critics cite Joseph H. Lewis’s Gun Crazy, a film noir about a bank-robbing couple, as a major influence. Forty years after its premiere, Bonnie and Clyde has been cited as a major influence in such disparate films as The Wild Bunch, The Godfather, Reservoir Dogs and The Departed
The film’s final scene, edited in slow motion, is obviously influenced by the European new wave films,[Originally, the film was intended to be directed by Jean-Luc Godard or Francois Truffaut, who opted out and made Fahrenheit 451 (1966) instead.] but that doesn’t detract from the position of the film as a turning point of the New Hollywood era.

This film is set during the Great Depression when great many lined before soup kitchens a few took to robbing banks. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were robbers and they made quite a stir doing just that. The film was directed by Arthur Penn, and starred Warren Beatty as Clyde Barrow and Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker. It was produced by Warner Bros. – the studio responsible for the gangster films of the 1930s, and it seems appropriate that the same studio should consider the crime/gangster genre in a new light: the film is violent, innovative and gives a four-ulcer job of robbing banks loads of glamour.
The film opens with a golden, old-style Warner Bros shield, grainy, unglamorous, blurry, sepia-toned snapshots of the Barrow and Parker families (at the time of Bonnie and Clyde’s childhood) play on a black background accompanied by the loud clicking sound of a camera shutter. The credit titles are interspersed with flashes of more semi-documentary, brownish-tinged pictures. The text of the major credits fade from white to blood red on the dark background. 30’s hand-cranked phonographic music (Rudy Vallee’s popular love song of the period Deep Night) is faintly heard – a haunting omen from another era. The films doesn’t let you forget the period while the petty hoodlum and his drab and unglamorous gun moll become larger than life before our eyes. Look at the way they cavort in cartoon-style slapstick comedy [a tribute to Mack Sennett's silent films).
When they first met in Texas in the early 1930s the real Bonnie (19 years old) and Clyde (21 years old), weren't glamorous characters: she was already the wife of an imprisoned murderer, and he was a petty thief and vagrant with numerous misdemeanors. They were 'white trash' couple and described "the Southwest's most notorious bandit and his gun moll" in the local newspaper. Their brief, bloody crime spree (involving kidnapping and murders) ended on May 23, 1934 alongside state Highway 154 near Arcadia, Louisiana (the town nearest to the ambush site in north-central Louisiana), when the desperados were ambushed and killed by four Texas lawmen (led by Texas Ranger Frank Hamer), accompanied by Bienville Parish Sheriff Henderson Jordan and his deputy Prentiss Oakley. Their bullet-ridden vehicle was hit with 187 shots. In actuality, the 25 year-old Barrow and 23-year old Parker were armed and ready for the ambush when they were killed. Currently, Louisiana's largest outdoor flea market (held one weekend a month) originated in 1990 in Arcadia as Bonnie and Clyde Trade Days.
‘The film considerably simplifies the real facts about Bonnie and Clyde, which included other gang members, repeated jailings, and other murders and assorted crimes. One of the film's major characters, "C.W. Moss", is a composite of two members of the Barrow Gang: William Daniel "W.D." Jones and Henry Methvin. In 1968, Jones outlined his period with the Barrows in a Playboy magazine article "Riding with Bonnie and Clyde."

The screenplay was written by David Newman and Robert Benton. (Robert Towne and Beatty have been listed as providing uncredited contributions to the script.)
Its producer, 28 year-old Warren Beatty, was also its title-role star Clyde Barrow, and his co-star Bonnie Parker, newcomer Faye Dunaway, became a major screen actress as a result of her breakthrough in this influential film. Likewise, unknown Gene Hackman was recognized as a solid actor and went on to star in many substantial roles (his next major role was in The French Connection (1971))-tim dirks.

Warner Bros-Seven Arts had so little faith in the film that, in a then-unprecedented move, they offered its first-time producer Warren Beatty 40% of the gross instead of a minimal fee. The movie then went on to gross over $70 million world-wide by 1973.

The instrumental banjo piece "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" by Flatt and Scruggs was made famous to a worldwide audience as a result of its frequent use in the movie. Its use is entirely anachronistic, however; the bluegrass-style of music from which the piece stems dates from the mid-1940s’(wikipedia).

The film was given Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress and Best Cinematography.
Directed by Arthur Penn
Produced by Warren Beatty
Written by David Newman
& Robert Benton
Starring Warren Beatty
Faye Dunaway
Michael J. Pollard
Gene Hackman
Estelle Parsons
Music by Charles Strouse
Cinematography Burnett Guffey
Editing by Dede Allen
Distributed by Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
Running time 111 min.
Language English
Budget $2,500,000 (estimated)

In a historical perspective
Earlier films that recounted similar adventures of infamous, doomed lovers-on-the-run who are free and accountable to no one include Fritz Lang's You Only Live Once (1937) with Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney, Joseph H. Lewis' cult classic Gun Crazy (1949) with John Dall and Peggy Cummins, Nicholas Ray's They Live By Night (1949) (remade by Robert Altman with its original title Thieves Like Us (1974) from Edward Anderson's source novel and starring Shelley Duvall and Keith Carradine), and The Bonnie Parker Story (1958) with Dorothy Provine and Jack Hogan. Later outlaw-couple films include B-movie Killers Three (1968) with Diane Varsi and Robert Walker, Jr., Terrence Malick's Badlands (1973), Ridley Scott's Thelma and Louise (1991), Kalifornia (1993), and Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers (1994).]
Penn’s masterpiece won two Oscars for Best Supporting Actress (Estelle Parsons in an over-the-top performance) and Best Cinematography (Burnett Guffey) for its great evocation of period detail, with eight other nods for Best Picture and Best Actor (producer/actor Warren Beatty), Best Actress (Faye Dunaway), Best Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman), Best Supporting Actor (Michael J. Pollard), Best Director (Arthur Penn), Best Story and Screenplay (Newman and Benton), and Best Costume Design (Theadora Van Runkle, who later worked on The Godfather, Part II (1974)). (Although Robert Towne, who later wrote Chinatown (1974), worked on the final form of the screenplay and served as a special consultant.)
In retro:
In the late 1960s, the film’s sympathetic, revolutionary characters and its social criticism appealed to anti-authority American youth who were part of the counter-cultural movement protesting the Vietnam War, the corrupt social order, and the U.S. government’s role.

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The idea of conflict between good and evil is central to this film and the US-Mexico divide in which the drama is played out merely is a geographical divide, and not necessarily to be taken for a moral divide. Having said this let me introduce Mr. Big and he is evil incarnate and he is also a pro. Quinlan exudes the stench of corruption from every pore of his distended, heaving carcass, yet his fellow officers are in awe of him because of his reputation. He short-cuts moral quotient if he could attain his ends. Thus he is also a pragmatist. The twist is that his outlook has been poisoned since the brutal murder of his wife, decades ago. The constant pain fuels a personal vendetta. This is, of course, no excuse, but it does partly explain the prejudice of Quinlan. Enter the Mexican lawmen Ramon ‘Mike’ Vargas and given an international incident and an unsolved crime the stage is set for sparks to fly. Both Vargas and Quinlan have reputations to protect and when it comes down to a one-on-one duel, both are willing to get their hands dirty. Now all it requires is the genius of Orson Welles to give the film its impact and enduring appeal.

The film opens with its most famous sequence. It’s an audacious, incredible, breathtaking, three-minute, uninterrupted crane tracking shot under the credits (appearing superimposed on the left of the screen). The entire tracking shot covers four blocks from start to finish. In a close-up, hands set an explosive, timed device. A shadowy figure runs and places it in the trunk of a parked convertible. The pounding of bongo drums and blare of brass instruments are heard (Henry Mancini’s score), accompanied by the ticking-tocking of the mechanism on the soundtrack. The camera pulls away sharply, identifying the car’s location – it is parked on a street in a seedy Mexican border town. An unsuspecting, wealthy American man – Rudi Linnekar (the boss of the town) and his giggling, blonde floozy, mistress/girlfriend [later, we learn she is a striptease dancer named Zita] emerge out of the background darkness and get into the car, driving off through the streets toward the US-Mexican border about four blocks away.
Through the tawdry streets Linnekar and Zita roll, until the camera smoothly picks up their passing by Mexican lawman Ramon “Mike” Vargas (Charlton Heston) and his new wife Susan (Janet Leigh). As the newly-weds cross over the border, into the US, they catch up and overtake the automobile. Just a few steps more and the car explodes in a ball of flame, casting harsh shadows. Unfortunately this is an international incident since the bomb was set in Mexico and detonated in America.
Honeymoon plans of Vargas and his wife are now ruined and he sends her to the hotel to await him while he wants to assist the local cops who have arrived at the scene. The cops are awaiting Quinlan (Orson Welles). When he finally arrives from his ranch, with his side-kick Pete Menzies (Joseph Calleia), the dead man’s daughter Marcia Linnekar (Joanna Moore) comes in to identify the remains of her father but Quinlan seems disinterested, dismissing her (with a tail). Finally turning to his fellow officers, after appraising and disregarding Vargas, Quinlan’s twitching nose takes them onto the Mexican side.
Meanwhile, Susan has been waylaid on the way to the hotel by smooth-looking Pancho (Valentin De Vargas), one of the Grandi boys. Allowing herself to be led to greasy crime-boss “Uncle Joe” Grandi (Akim Tamiroff), puts on a brave face. Since his brother is being investigated by Vargas, he wants him to lay off – a request which cuts no ice with Susan. Her husband hasn’t got much time to think about this development though because Quinlan is hot on the trail of a suspect and Vargas wants to be present. The hunch concerns Manelo Sanchez (Victor Millan), a poor Mexican worker who became involved with Marcia, severely upsetting her father. Thus Sanchez had the motive, which is enough for Quinlan. However the discovery of some damning evidence by Pete seals the case, but disturbs Vargas. He is certain that Quinlan is framing Sanchez, though he’ll have to gather some solid proof if he is to prove this (which means leaving Susan to make the best of her situation.)

We see a stunning portrait of corruption and abuse of power in the hulk of Orson Welles. As I said earlier the opening shots sets the mood and tone. Having introduced main characters early on Welles doesn’t slacken his control over its development. This technical brilliance, flaunted so early, is a driving force, opening the door to extensive range of camera angles and superb editing. Links between separate scenes are established with connecting motifs, such as doors opening or a shared musical theme. When combined with the advanced level of spatial choreography (so that every position and movement latches together into a cogent whole), the result is an extraordinary piece of film-making. There is a greater fluidity in his direction helped firmly by the strong theme and acting.

Lastly, the bizarre casting choices made for Touch of Evil show, in retrospect, a certain genius. Welles is perfect, dominating and beyond reproach, sometimes looming over the screen and sometimes shrunken like a doll. In opposition, Heston and Leigh are excellent as the disturbed newly-weds. However, special mentions must be made of Marlene Dietrich, the gypsy fortune-teller Tanya, Dennis Weaver, the motel clerk, Mercedes McCambridge, a butch gang member, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. This eclectic group of performers forms the broad-sweep of this frontier town, a setting where the weird is commonplace and disparate cultures clash. All of this gives Touch of Evil a deliciously tangy flavour, a film noir at its best. Given the unexpected opportunity to direct( since Citizen Kane had sent him to the dog-house as far as Movie moghuls were concerned), Welles grabbed the opportunity and created a masterpiece (foxing the studio executives). As usual he messed up during the editing stage, by letting the film out of his hands (cf. The Magnificent Ambersons), but now we have the chance to see his vision in all of its electrifying glory.
The version of the film that was released in 1958 with 93 minutes of running time (later revised and restored with 15 minutes of additional scenes in 1976), was disowned by director Welles, who was paid $125,000 to direct, re-write, and star in the film. Before its release by Universal International Pictures, some scenes were reshot, and the film was edited, cut and bastardized without his full approval, while he was out of town working on another project.
In 1998, the film was re-edited and/or restored based upon creator Welles’ original, newly-discovered 58 page memo of editing instructions to Universal International boss Ed Muhl. The new version did not contain new footage, but was a reconstructed “quasi-director’s cut” with re-organized, cross-cut scenes (with a total of about 50 changes). The most impressive change was that the legendary opening shot (described below) was seen without obscuring, super-imposed credits, and the blaring, distracting Henry Mancini background music during the elaborate scene was stripped away and replaced by natural source music (from doorways of dives the couple passes, or from car radios). The credits were re-positioned at the end of the sequence. Other changes included: repaired torn shots, restored sound quality, excision of “explanatory scenes” added by the studio, re-positioning and trimming of scenes, and restoration of originally-cut footage. The re-edited version, the fourth version of the film, now runs 111 minutes (compared to 93 minutes in the earliest version).(ack)
Compiler: benny

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