Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the gathering spot for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. I hope we can help you forget your troubles tonight. Or the Cubs troubles. I hope you brought your own tasty beverage. The hostess will gladly seat you now.
BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.
The Cubs snapped their team-record 13-game home losing streak by beating the Rockies 6-4 on a two-run walk-off home run by Rafael Ortega. The win came despite Kyle Hendricks getting jumped on for three runs in the top of the first inning and David Bote twice hitting into double plays with no outs and the bases loaded. But it’s nice to see that the Cubs can win one and that there are other teams that can blow a game as well. I had to include that photo of Ortega above. I imagine in my head he’s dancing along with Judy Garland as he runs the bases, even though I know he actually isn’t. Feel free to discuss tonight’s game in the comments. Feel free to open a beverage to celebrate the win.
Last time I asked you what “fringe-y” major leaguer on the current Cubs was the most likely to stick around and be a valuable contributor to the 2022 Cubs. The winner, with 36% of the vote, was Patrick Wisdom. MLB seems to agree with you as they put his picture on the advertisement for the 2022 Field of Dreams game. I hope they don’t know something about Kyle Hendricks that we don’t. In any case, outfielder Rafael Ortega was close behind with 31% of the vote and first baseman Frank Schwindel was third with 19%.
Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. You can skip ahead to the baseball question if you’d like. You won’t hurt my feelings.
I didn’t realize when I started doing these jazz tracks three times a week that I’d quickly run out of my knowledge of jazz. As I’ve said many times, I’m not a scholar, collector or an aficionado of jazz. I’m just a fan who listens on a regular basis. I often don’t even take note of the artist I’m listening to if it’s on the SiriusXM channel. I could tell you a whole lot more about punk and new wave artists from 1976 to 1988 than I could jazz artists, which is something I’m trying to correct.
So I was surfing around YouTube looking for a clip to include and I found this wonderful album by keyboardist Larry Young, 1962’s Groove Street. I didn’t know much about Young other than I know he played with Miles Davis and he played on one track of Bitches Brew. Wikipedia tells me he also recorded one track with Jimi Hendrix. That’s quite a pair of guys to be a sideman for.
Anyway, I listened to this album and I liked it. If you like your jazz with a strong dash of R&B, then you’ll probably like this one too.
Tonight’s movie selection is the Fritz Lang film noir classic from 1953, The Big Heat. Starring Glenn Ford and the queen of noir, Gloria Grahame, you can read the movie as a standard tale of a crusading cop taking on a corrupt city all by himself. But if you dig a little deeper, you find that Ford’s straight-arrow police sergeant is driven by some dangerous impulses himself that have deadly consequences.
The movie starts with the suicide of Tom Duncan, a corrupt police officer who can’t live with his guilt anymore. His wife Bertha (Jeanette Nolan) seems strangely unaffected by the death. She grabs the letter he leaves with the evidence of his crimes and coldly makes a phone call to the police commissioner to report the incident. (Spoilers for a 68-year-old movie to follow)
Ford plays Sgt. Dave Bannion, who gets called in to investigate the death. The film goes to great lengths to portray Bannion as a wholesome family man. He has a beautiful young wife (played by Jocelyn Brando, Marlon’s sister) and a cute toddler daughter. He eats dinner with them and plays with his daughter. He’s a clean-cut, honest family man working as a cop in a city rife with corruption.
Everyone tells him Bannion that Duncan’s death is a simple suicide, and Bannion doesn’t really have any reason to doubt them. But what he can’t figure out is why this man would kill himself. His wife insists Duncan was in ill-health and depressed. But Bannion discovers that the dead man had a mistress who was a bar girl at a mob-owned joint. The mistress tells him that not only was he in perfect health, Duncan was planning on leaving his wife to be with her.
Of course, Bannion has the conversation with her at the bar where she worked, so the mob immediately kills her for talking to him. Bannion, outraged at her death, confronts the mob boss, Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby), and then Bannion beats up the bodyguard as he tries to escort him out of Lagana’s place. Real subtle, dude.
This act of violence, as well as Bannion’s refusal to let the matter drop, leads to the mob placing a bomb in Bannion’s car, which only manages to blow up and kill his wife instead. Bannion is now a man obsessed with bringing down the mob organization that killed his wife. When he accuses the police commissioner of being in league with the syndicate (he is), Bannion is immediately fired.
Here’s where Debby, played by the incomparable Grahame, steps in. She’s the moll of Lagana’s chief lieutenant, Vince Stone, played by Lee Marvin in one of his earliest screen roles. Debby gets tired of being abused by Stone and eventually starts serving as an informant for Bannion. She also tries to seduce Bannion and seriously girl, his wife’s been dead for like two days. The worst part of it is that Bannion almost goes for it. Almost. In his defense, it was Gloria Grahame.
Stone hears that Debby was seen with Bannion and in the most famous scene in the movie, he throws a pot of hot coffee over half of Debby’s face, burning and scarring it permanently. Here Lang repeats a technique that he used in the opening scene. We never actually see the coffee go on to Debby’s face. We see the pot, a hand grabbing it and then we hear the screams off-camera. The earlier suicide used the same technique by showing us the gun and the hand and the blast is off-camera. Lang felt that by doing this, he was making us, the audience, fill in the image in our heads and whatever we imagined was going to have a lot more impact that what he could put on the screen.
Debby goes back to Bannion with her face half-bandaged. By this time, Bannion has figured out that Duncan’s widow has kept the note that he left behind with all the evidence of the corruption in the police and the crimes of the mob. He’s also figured out that Blanche has been blackmailing everyone and that she’s made arrangements for the evidence to go public in case of her death as an insurance policy on her own life.
Out of either his foolish recklessness or a sinister manipulation, Bannion tells Debby the entire set-up. The same beautiful Debby who has just been scarred for life by Stone and Lagana’s gang. She immediately goes and shoots Bertha Duncan so that the evidence of corruption will become public on her death. Debby then returns to Stone’s apartment and when Stone gets back, she throws hot coffee in his face as revenge. In the other famous scene in the film, Debby towers over Stone after the attack and takes the bandages off so that he (and the audience) can see her scaring and to tell Stone that’s what in store for him.
Stone, naturally enough, shoots Debby dead. Bannion arrives too late to save Debby (she gets a terrific death scene), but Stone is arrested along and the rest of the corrupt city officials and the mobsters when the evidence goes public. In the last scene, Bannion is reinstated in his old job with the police. In his final line, he tells them to “Keep the coffee hot.”
So the good, crusading straight-arrow Bannion triumphs over the forces of evil that took over the city, right? Well, you can read the movie that way. Another way to read it is that Bannion’s obsession with this case led to the deaths of four women, including his own wife. And it’s not like he did much to protect these women. His wife had received a threatening phone call before her death and he blew it off as an idle warning. He tries to find a safe spot for Debby to crash, but then he tells her how she can get revenge on the entire organization that has ruined her life. Bannion’s crusade has a high body count and he doesn’t seem to realize that he’s partially responsible for all of it.
Glenn Ford, on the other hand, does realize it. He’s terrific at playing Bannion as an All-American do-gooder, but then letting out hints of his dark side in scene after scene. He never lets it take over his portrayal, but he always wants the audience to know that it’s there.
And of course, Gloria Grahame was made for film noir. She was terrific at playing these fallen women hardened by life while showing hints of vulnerability all along the way. You always realize that no matter how much Debby has seen, there’s still a scared innocent girl inside of her. Debby tells Bannion that even though Stone beats her up from time to time, “most times, it’s fun. Expensive fun.” The way Grahame delivers the line leaves little doubt about just how “expensive” that fun was.
Anyway, The Big Heat is definitely one of the classics of film noir and a must-watch for anyone interested in the genre. While the plot sometimes leaves a little to be desired, the performances of Ford and Grahame are so great that they almost make those plot holes make sense.
This scene from The Big Heat is a spoiler. I hate to show the climax of a film, but Grahame’s performance here is so great that I had to share it. Besides, I figure if you’ve stuck with me this long you’ve either already seen the film or you’re planning to watch it for the performances and the direction and not the plot.
This scene is when Debby gets her revenge. I haven’t had a chance to mention the screenplay by Sydney Boehm, but Grahame also gets some terrific lines to deliver here. “We’re sisters under the mink.”
Welcome back to all of those who skip the jazz and movies. Tonight’s question is about how bad do you think the Cubs are going to drop in the standings between now and the end of the season.
The current worst records in baseball, or the race for the first pick in the draft, are:
- Orioles 38-85
- Diamondbacks 42-84
- Rangers 43-81
- Pirates 45-80
- Marlins 51-74
- Nationals 53-70
- CUBS 55-72
- Twins 54-70
- Royals 56-68
- Rockies 57-68
- Tigers 60-66
If the season ended tonight, the Cubs would have the 7th pick in the draft next year.
But the season does not end tonight, so I’m asking you where in the draft order do you think the Cubs will be next year? I think it’s going to be impossible to catch the Orioles, who may not win again this year. The Cubs may be sinking in the standings, but that’s a long way to sink. Even picking in the top three is going to be very hard, although a few more double-digit losing streaks and maybe they could sneak in.
So will the Cubs have a top-three pick? Will they get hot at the end of the season and finish better than the Tigers and out of the top ten? They did win in dramatic fashion tonight, after all. Or have they sunk as far as they can and they’ll get the seventh-pick in the draft next season?
A quick lesson on draft order before you vote. In the case of a tie between two teams, the team with the worse record in 2020 will pick before the other one. That means that if the Cubs finish with the same record as any of these teams, they will pick after all of them except the Twins. So basically, the only team they have the tiebreaker on is Minnesota.
Also, because the Mets failed to sign Kumar Rocker, they will have the 11th pick in the draft next year in addition to their regular pick
So where will the Cubs be picking next draft?
The Cubs will have the _____ pick in the 2022 MLB Draft?
This poll is closed
1st, 2nd or 3rd
4th or 5th
6th or 7th
8th or 9th
12th or later
As always, thank you for stopping by. I hope you had a good time and that you’ll come back again soon. Be sure to tip the staff. We’ll be back again tomorrow with an abbreviated version of BCB After Dark.