“The Maltese Falcon” was a movie of important firsts. It was the first film directed by John Huston, meaning it was Step One of a legendary career behind the camera that stretched from the early 1940s to the late 1980s. It was also the first movie to apply what’s become the standard private eye template to a Hollywood film — cynical hero, femme fatale, plenty of plot twists, dark ending — a formula that continues today. It was the film debut of beloved character actor Syndey Greenstreet, who was more than 60 years old but just making the jump from stage to screen. And, most famously, it was the first movie to really treat Humphrey Bogart like a star, launching him into one of the most icon careers in Hollywood history.
“Citizen Kane” is one of the greatest movies ever made. It won the international Sight and Sound film poll decade after decade. It tops dozens of “best of” lists and is taught in Cinema 101 classes all over the world. In other words, “Citizen Kane” can seem a little intimidating.
It’s considered a Christmas classic, but 1946’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” also has the reputation of being sentimental schlock, derided as “Capra-corn” (in honor of its director, Frank Capra) and dismissed as a movie whose ending reaches new depth of sappiness and tear-jerking desperation. None of that, thankfully, is true.
Today’s podcast combines two things that are completely outdated: A black-and-white movie and newspapers. His Girl Friday (1940) follows unscrupulous newspaper editor Walter Burns’ (Cary Grant) quest to win back his ex-wife and former star reporter Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) from her dull but pleasant fiance Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy, who played Randolph “not Mortimer” Duke in Trading Places and Coming to America).
If Gone with the Wind — which we featured in episode one — is the king of classic films, then Casablanca may be the runner up. The 1942 romantic drama is set in the Moroccan city of Casablanca during World War II. It stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid. It’s littered with lines that have seeped into pop culture, like this one and this one. In this episode, we all praise the movie as a flawless masterpiece and then discuss how to remake it into a B-movie filled with unnecessary violence, unnecessary nudity and unnecessary Snoop Dogg. The whole exercise is unnecessary, come to think of it.