Carrie’s choice: Designing Woman (1957)
Airing at 4:30PM EST
Simply put: I loved this movie. Mostly, it’s cute. It’s entertaining. That’s the big picture.
Lauren Bacall is a very successful woman in and of fashion. She falls in love with a guy’s guy- a sports writer. She knows clothes. He knows boxing. They both love their lives, their friends, and each other. Trying to make things work out is interesting enough, with her artistic friends and his horse-races, but then husband Mike gets in trouble with the mob…
Now that you have the gist of the plot (I’ll let you figure out the rest on your own), I can tell you why this movie is great: It’s hilarious. A little stereotyped, but innocently enough. And Lauren Bacall sells it. They all do, really. The acting is great, sometimes over the top, and just charming. Mike has a “body guard” boxer who has a few too many hits to the head to protect him from the mob. Marilla (Bacall) has an artistic, musical, theater-oriented crowd. Besides, two very different people still trying to build a relationship based on love and respect is always a heart-warming pleasure, is it not?
And if this needs further endorsement, Mike, the husband, is played by Gregory Peck. So you know that this one is definitely on my DVR to record and watch again!
Brandie’s choice: The Big Sleep (1946)
Airing at 2:00PM EST
Looking at the picture heading off this post, all I can say is, I wish my eyebrows would do that. That would be a marvelous weapon to have in any feminine arsenal. And no one could do more with a delicately-arched eyebrow than Lauren Bacall.
Bacall’s love affair with Bogie is the stuff of Hollywood fairy tales, and in my review of the Bogie-Bacall film collection last year, I touched on what makes this pairing so damn special. Even in a movie like The Big Sleep, which is one of the most notoriously convoluted films ever released, the magic of Bogie and Bacall lights up the screen.
In this film, Bogie takes another stab at playing an iconic detective role, this time Raymond Chandler’s hard-drinking Philip Marlowe. He is hired by General Sternwood to help settle his daughter Carmen’s (Martha Vickers) gambling debts to a rare book dealer, Arthur Geiger, but Sternwood’s other daughter, Vivian (Bacall), warns Marlowe that there is more to the request. The plot dissolves into a complicated mess at this point. Seriously. I have now sat here for ten minutes trying to figure out how to explain the rest of this movie to you, and it’s just too difficult to manage. So you’ll just have to watch it for yourself. And then curse and complain afterward when you realize there are no easy answers to any of the mysteries put forth by this blasted movie.
Why watch it, then? Well, despite its tendency to make one want to pull out his or her hair by the roots, it is still an interesting movie, and one of the great film noirs to emerge from the 1940s. Bogie as Marlowe is the perfect sardonic anti-hero, and Bacall is simply sizzling as Vivian. It’s cliche to say that the two of them throw up sparks, but when you can almost literally see them, I think there’s no other way to say it.
However, the script, which was doctored by William Faulkner at one point (so that explains why it’s so damn hard to follow!), is the biggest draw for the film. The zingers fly fast and furious, as do the double entendres, and you’ll find yourself smirking throughout as Bogie cracks wise to any and all comers.
Give this movie a shot, and if you find yourself lost in the middle, don’t worry … you’re not alone.