Posts tagged ‘Casablanca’

March 18, 2012

The Bodyguard (1992 – Blu-Ray)

“Alexander Graham Bell, to see Miss Marron… you got an appointment?”

I can’t believe it’s been twenty years since ‘The Bodyguard’ but with Whitney Houston’s recent tragic death I thought it was high time to see it again. I imagine I first saw it on TV (Probably with the F-Bombs badly dubbed out by ITV) when I was about 13 and watched it repeatedly. I was captivated by the romance, the glamour and the danger but has it stood the test of time?

Well in short it has, it’s even better than I remember it and this gorgeous Blu-Ray presentation helps!. If you haven’t seen it, the plot concerns Houston as a famous singer who having received death threats reluctantly hires Kevin Costner as her bodyguard. The romance is beautifully played by the two leads as it seems to grow subtly throughout, even in the passages between their scenes. Houston’s performance is at first all showbiz arrogance but this peals away to reveal a frightened isolated woman trapped by fame. Of course her vocal performances are astounding and no better than in the final emotional ‘Casablanca‘-esque finale.

The filmmakers decision to have a black woman as the romantic female lead to Costner’s white male lead in this potential blockbuster was brave twenty years ago. But the choice to make no reference to it in the script was also way ahead of its time. It would still be ten years before Halle Berry would become the first black woman to win a best actress Oscar. And now, while a couple of box office titans like Denzil Washington and Will Smith give the impression that the movie industry has changed, a couple of recent examples show that isn’t necessarily the case.

George Lucas has been trying to bring 2012 Tuskegee-Airmen biopic ‘Red Tails’ to the screen for more than twenty years before finally fronting the entire $58 million budget himself because studios wouldn’t put their money behind an all black cast. Also, Spike Lee sued and defeated the worldwide distributer for his magnificent 2008 Buffalo-Soldier war epic ‘Miracle At St. Anna’ when they refused to put it out in cinemas. When will the industry learn that like ‘The Bodyguard’ two decades ago, if you simply make a great film and promote it properly the audiences will flock to it in droves no matter the skin colour of your cast.

 

March 1, 2012

To Have & Have Not (1944 – DVD)

“Drinking don’t bother my memory, if it did I wouldn’t drink, I couldn’t, you see, I’d forget how good it was, then where’d I be?”

I’m getting a taste for Humphrey Bogart films at the moment, with ‘Casablanca’ back on the big screen, ‘The Big Sleep’ just viewed and now I’m onto 1944’s ‘To Have & Have Not’.  It was released two years after Bogie’s triumph in ‘Casablanca’ and has all the hallmarks of an attempt to recapture that magic.  Once again our noble yet reluctant hero is torn between protecting his own well-being and helping out the Free-French cause (This time in the Vichy held port of Martinique).  Providing the atmospheric music, Nightclub piano player Dooley Wilson is switched to Hotel-Bar piano player Hoagy Carmichael.  ‘To Have & Have Not’s tone is a little more serious with Claude Rains’ jovial Vichy Captain Renault replaced with Dan Seymour’s more ruthless Police Captain Renard.

This time the female lead went to then newcomer Lauren Bacall, an inspired casting decision playing up the sizzling sexual chemistry between her and Bogie (On screen and off).  Bacall looks absolutely stunning throughout in figure-hugging Suits and takes nonchalant Cigarette smoking to almost fetishistic extremes. One last mention of Walter Brennan’s wonderful tragic-comic turn as Bogie’s Rum-soaked sidekick Eddie.  For a film clearly conceived as a cash-in, I’d say this just about matches ‘Casablanca’s exotic and romantic magic, no doubt down to the considerable skills of Director Howard Hawks.

Next in my Bogart-a-thon are two John Huston pictures 1941’s ‘The Maltese Falcon’ then 1951’s ‘The African Queen’.