RARA-AVIS: Re: Maltese Falcon screenplay

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 19 Mar 2008

On Mar 19, 2008, at 5:28 AM, rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com wrote:

> Yeah, but Spade was a cool dog! The character Cortez
> plays couldn't get laid in a whorehouse with a fist
> full of fifties.

Gee, I haven't heard that one for days. Where'd that come from, anyway?

> And Houston had the good taste to
> drop out that opening scene when Archer catches his
> wife playing tonsil hockey with Cortez. The scene in
> which he forces Brigid to strip to prove she didn't
> steal Gutman's grand! You'd swear the man never saw a
> woman naked before. He rolls his eyes. It's a riot.

Yeah, but as I said, that was an accepted method of film acting in those days. Big, hyper-expressive, larger-than-life exaggeration, to play to the back row. And they weren't far out of the silent era in 1931, remember.

Subtlety and nuance existed, certainly -- check out some of Chaplin, Lloyd or Keaton's work, fer instance, but scenery chewing in the early years of the talkies was still the norm. Daniel Day-Lewis could have drank his damn milkshake all over the place in those days.

But I love some of those old B-flicks from the thirties, when the P.I. format hadn't yet been formalized (Hello, Ray) within an inch of its cinematic life.

Hokey acting, implausible plots, jaw-dropping coincidences, awkward comedy "bits," laughably offensive stereotypes (now, not then)... pass the popcorn, please.

And as an added bonus, most of them were adapted (mostly loosely) from then-popular HB novels and stories. It's just too bad so many of them are hard to find -- or worse, have disappeared completely.


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 19 Mar 2008 EDT