Friday, April 10, 2009

I think, my darlings ...

That we should play while I ponder.

Just in case you’ve forgotten how to do this, your answers in the comments if you please.

1) Favourite Humphrey Bogart movie and why.

2) Favourite Jimmy Stewart movie and why.

3) And just to change things up, name one poem that has stuck with you since you heard it for the first time.

Me first.

1) The African Queen which, as I’ve said before, is also one of my favourite Katherine Hepburn movies. The development of the relationship between Charlie and Rose, as they evolve from barely being able to tolerate each other to falling deeply and sweetly in love, is just delicious. And when played out by two such magnificent actors, it’s an absolute joy to watch.

2) The Philadelphia Story with Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Is it just me or did Katherine Hepburn improve every movie she was in just by being in it? I don’t think it’s just me.

3) Hmmmm, astonishingly enough this is a hard one – I have quite a few poems stuck in my head. Two that stand out are The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot with its allusions to Heart of Darkness and Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot; not to mention its dark final stanza:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

And The Cradle Song by William Blake which was one of the first poems I read to my baby boy.

Sleep, sleep, beauty bright,
Dreaming in the joys of night;
Sleep, sleep; in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.

Sweet babe, in thy face
Soft desires I can trace,
Secret joys and secret smiles,
Little pretty infant wiles.

As thy softest limbs I feel,
Smiles as of the morning steal
O'er thy cheek, and o'er thy breast
Where thy little heart doth rest.

O the cunning wiles that creep
In thy little heart asleep!
When thy little heart doth wake,
Then the dreadful night shall break.

Your turn.


The Artful Nudger said...

1) Pretty straightforward and unquestionable - Casablanca. Just too many good scenes. Loved it from the first time I saw it.

2) Also fairly stereotypical: It's a Wonderful Life. I don't care about the religious overtones. It's a fabulous movie that gets me every time.

3) The poem that sticks with me most, unfortunately, is The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, and I say this because I hate that poem with a passion that can only be inspired by high school poetry analysis. (I hate The Miracle Worker for much the same reason.)

Otherwise, most of what sticks with me are limericks:

There once was a lady, quite bright
Who traveled far faster than light
She departed one day
In the relative way
And returned on the previous night

There once was a half-elven bard
Whose lute-ing was deemed avant-garde.
He considered it vogue,
To take levels in rogue,
Then he'd lute you when you were off-guard.

The lim'rick packs laughs astronomical
Into space that is quite economical
But the good ones I've seen
So seldom are clean
And the clean ones so seldom are comical

And, of course:
A plumber named Darcy McGee
Plumbed a pretty young maid by the sea
Said the maid: "Stop your plumbing!
"I hear someone coming!"
Said the plumber, still plumbing: "It's me!"

Romantic Heretic said...

Can't remember the last Bogart or Hepburn movie I saw *blushes*

There's only one poem I know by heart and that's MacDonough's Song by Rudyard Kipling.

Whether the State can loose and bind
In Heaven as well as on Earth:
If it be wiser to kill mankind
Before or after the birth--
These are matters of high concern
Where State-kept schoolmen are;
But Holy State (we have lived to learn)
Endeth in Holy War.

Whether The People be led by The Lord,
Or lured by the loudest throat:
If it be quicker to die by the sword
Or cheaper to die by vote--
These are things we have dealt with once,
(And they will not rise from their grave)
For Holy People, however it runs,
Endeth in wholly Slave.

Whatsoever, for any cause,
Seeketh to take or give
Power above or beyond the Laws,
Suffer it not to live!
Holy State or Holy King--
Or Holy People's Will--
Have no truck with the senseless thing.
Order the guns and kill!
Saying --after--me:--

Once there was The People--Terror gave it birth;
Once there was The People and it made a Hell of Earth
Earth arose and crushed it. Listen, 0 ye slain!
Once there was The People--it shall never be again!

M@ said...

1. Maltese Falcon. Just watched this again a couple of weeks ago. Bogart is absolutely at his best in this one.

2. I haven't seen a lot of Jimmy Stewart films -- haven't seen all of Rear Window or Wonderful Life, for example -- but I saw The Shop Around the Corner around last Xmas and really enjoyed it. So, that.

3. An Irish Airman Foresees His Death by W.B. Yeats

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above
Those that I fight, I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

The Lessons poems of Henry Reed, especially "The Naming of Parts", also really stuck with me.

KEvron said...

1) the africa queen. took courage for him to play up his overbite.

2) it's a wonderful life. stewart was a corny actor. wonderful life was the perfect vehicle for his corn.

3) "altogether lovely", by marshall ball:

god is good and merciful
because he is also bright and intelligent.
seeing, feeling all that is true.
clearly he feels and listens
to all our desires.
clearly he has everybody's
dreams in mind.
i see a god altogether lovely.

he wasn't yet five years old when he wrote it.


CC said...


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Sound familiar?

Frank Frink said...

Hey, hold on a tick. Didn't you do the Bogie & Stewart thing a few months back? I'm pretty sure you did? You did Hepburn, too.

But if it pleases you...

1) No question, The Maltese Falcon. To begin with, I'm a huge fan of the noir hard-boiled detective genre (literature and motion picture) in general and Mr. Hammett in particular. Bogie is Sam Spade. The terrific supporting cast of players doesn't hurt in this one, either. Finally, the screenplay, with large portions of the dialogue taken verbatim from Hammett's novel.

Casablanca and The African Queen would be very close and equal second choices.

Just to mix it up... for Bogie in a cast against type role? Sabrina (with the other Hepburn).

2) Heh. One word: "pooka". ;-)

Ok, you need more than one word? Elwood P. Dowd.

Alright, back to one word: Harvey. And I can't believe I'm the only one to say that.

Alcohol, eccentricities, sanitariums, serums, and a 6' 3" invisible white rabbit? What's not to like. Again, well written and well cast.

3) CC, I did have Ozymandias under consideration as a top three selection but I'm also going to go with Yeats. "The Second Coming"

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

(For the interminably curious the third selection would be Allen Ginsburg's Howl. In reality, far too long to have been memorized. But we have YouTube to take care of that.)

wv = "penteder". That's a poetic meter revealed only to a select few.

Frank Frink said...

Guess it would be unfair of me not to also give you the rest of Howl starting here, to here, to here, and here if I'm going to tease with only the first little bit.

ThinkingManNeil said...

Has to be "Casablanca" with "Key Largo" running a close second, but it's not specifically because of Bogey or his performance per se, but because of the wonderful ensemble casts of each film - truly talented folks through and through who's removal or replacement would've diminished the final product. Also, I'm a total sucker for the scene where Bogey OK's Victor Lazlo to lead the Club's patrons in singing "La Marseillaise"; puts a car-sized lump in my throat every time.

Easily "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" with "Flight of the Phoenix" as my second choice. I would've liked to see what he would've done as the lead in "Twelve O'Clock High" instead of Gregory Peck - as good as Peck's performance was - since Stewart had had actually combat experience commanding a bomber unit flying B-24's over Europe during the war.

The one poem that still stops me dead in my tracks (forgive the pun) when I think of it is Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night"

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Thomas isn't my favourite poet, though; that honour is reserved forthe 8th century Chinese poet Tu Fu:


At the edge of heaven, tatters of autumn Cloud. After ten thousand miles of clear Lovely morning, the west wind arrives Here, Long rains haven't slowed farmers. Frontier

Willows air thin kingfisher colors, and Red fruit flecks mountain pears. As a flute's
Mongol song drifts from a tower, one Goose climbs clear through vacant skies.


craig said...

1. The Big Sleep. The peak of his career. Plus Bogart is Philip Marlowe (tho' Chandler reportedly preferred Dick Powell).

2. While Vertigo's a better flick and arguably Stewart's finest performance, my fave is The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence because it's a sweet-tempered anti-Western Western, because Stewart's role plays to his strengths without pushing him into self-parody, because the tough guy villain Lee Marvin chews up the scenery with the best of them and because John Wayne actually acts for a couple of minutes.

3. "Onions" from Lorna Crozier's Sex Lives of Vegetables. Has stayed lodged in my mind since our first encounter on CBC Radio's gone-but-not-forgotten The Food Show.

The onion loves the onion.
It hugs its many layers,
saying, O, O, O,
each vowel smaller
than the last.

Some say it has no heart.
It surrounds itself,
feels whole. Primordial.
First among vegetables.

If Eve had bitten it
instead of the apple,
how different

Chimera said...

(1) Not really a Bogart fan, but African Queen (which I watched because of Kate Hepburn) was definitely one of the best movies I've ever seen.

(2) All of them, but especially his westerns, with Cheyenne Social Club and Bandolero being pretty much tied for first place (and all the rest of them squeezed into second place).

(3) Spell of the Yukon, by Robert Service:

No! There's the land. (Have you seen it?)
It's the cussedest land that I know,
From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it
To the deep, deathlike valleys below.
Some say God was tired when He made it;
Some say it's a fine land to shun;
Maybe; but there's some as would trade it
For no land on earth - and I'm one.

Balbulican said...

1) The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Bogart exhausted and surreal, B. Traven's bleak novel, John Huston's dark and magnificent direction.

2) Rear Window. One of Hitchcock's tightest, cleverest scripts, Stewart irritable, funny, likeable, frightened - lotta dimensions in that little tiny room. (Notice the camera never leaves the room, until the end - except for the shot of the dead dog?)

3) Yes to Ozymandias and the Second coming. And many more. One of the first poems I ever memorized just because I loved it:

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Dover Beach, by Matthew Arnold