Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the swinging spot for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We’re so glad you decided to finish out 2022 with us. Come on in out of the cold and ring in 2023. Although I’m not sure anyone wants to hang around with us for three days, it is the final After Dark of the year. There’s no cover charge tonight and we’ll always find room for you near the stage. The show will start shortly. Don’t let any confetti get in your beverage. Bring your own bubbly.
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.
Last evening, I asked who you thought would be the Cubs’ primary closer out of the bullpen for 2023. I offered a lot of choices and even those didn’t seem to be enough for you. No one got tremendous support, but coming out on top was Brandon Hughes with 22 percent of the vote. He did finish the 2022 season as the Cubs closer, so that does make some sense. In second place was a tie between Adbert Alzolay and Brad Boxberger, both of whom got 17 percent. There was another tie for fourth place between Codi Heuer and “someone else.”
Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. You’re free to skip ahead to the baseball question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.
Man, the choices in the BCB Winter Noir Classic are getting harder and harder.
Since this is the final After Dark of the year, I might as well finish the year on a traditional note with a performance of “Auld Lang Syne” by Duke Ellington and his Orchestra. This particular version seems to be from 1962 and features a bass line that really swings. That’s not something you normally hear on “Auld Lang Syne,” but after all, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.
To me, the choice between The Postman Always Rings Twice and Scarlet Street in our BCB Winter Noir Classic was a tough one. But it apparently wasn’t for you as The Postman Always Rings Twice was the runaway winner in this one. It seems like most of you would be willing to commit murder for the smouldering beauty of Lana Turner as well.
Tonight’s challenge faces off two titanic directors in films that may not be their most famous, but even their lesser works are better than almost anyone else’s best work. The first is Night and the City (1950), directed by Jules Dassin. The other one is the directorial debut of Stanley Kubrick, the heist film The Killing (1956).
Night and the City. Directed by Jules Dassin. Starring Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, Googie Withers and Herbert Lom. Widmark stars as Harry Fabian, a pretty lousy con man and hustler who is constantly trying to make a buck in the underworld of seedy post-war London. He eventually comes up with a plan to stage professional wrestling matches, despite not having the money to bribe the right people to get the permits. Tierney plays a sometimes-girlfriend to Harry who is constantly trying to get him to give up the criminal life. Harry also gets involved in plots to steal money from nightclub owner Phil (Phil Nosseros) alongside Phil’s faithless and dishonest wife Helen (Withers).
Things go wrong for Harry, of course, because it’s noir. Soon, the entire London underworld is out for revenge.
Widmark turns in one of the best performances of his career here, playing Harry as a kind of addict to the con, always thinking that the next one will be the big score that sets him up for life. Harry is also unaware that he’s really not good at being a hustler. The studio (20th Century Fox) sent Dassin to London to direct this film, hoping the Red Scare that had ensnared him would die down while he was abroad. (It didn’t and Dassin was blacklisted. He did go on to have a very successful career as a director in France and Greece though.) Rather than going with the stark lighting, odd angles and the heavy use of shadows that was traditional in noir, Dassin went with a style more influenced by Italian neorealism, building off the work Dassin had done as the director of The Naked City.
I should note that there are two versions of this film out there—a US version and a UK version. The US version has a big orchestral soundtrack by Franz Waxman and the UK version substitutes a more subdued one by Benjamin Frankel. The UK version also adds on about six minutes to the film to give it a more upbeat tone, which has got to be one of the few times the US version of a film was more depressing. Dassin was blacklisted and didn’t get to finish the editing on either version, but he said the US version is closer to what he was going for. I’ve only seen the US version.
Also, it should be said that Night and the City may be the ultimate noir title. Isn’t that what almost every noir is about—night and a city?
Here’s the trailer for Night and the City.
The Killing. Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Starring Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray and Vince Edwards. Everyone has to start somewhere and The Killing was Kubrick’s first studio picture. It’s a heist film in the best sense of the word. Sterling Hayden (who would go on to be so masterful in Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove) stars as a Johnny Clay, a career low-level criminal who comes up with a plan to pull off one big heist that will allow him to retire and marry his girlfriend Fay (Gray). He puts together a motley group of criminals, each with a different specialty, to rob a race track of $2 million. One of the criminals is a professional wrestler, so that’s something that both these movies have in common.
Although the plot doesn’t go off without a hitch, the gang does manage to successfully pull off the heist. But problems start to arise when the gang tries to divy up the loot. And the cops are still after them as well.
Kubrick hadn’t quite developed his over-the-top excessive style yet (no alien space-babies here!) and keeps this movie moving along at a brisk pace. He managed to pack a lot of action and plot twists and the 85 minutes of the film seem to fly by. The heist is the kind of elaborate plot that you’d see in an Ocean’s 11 film later on, but without the glitz and glamor of those movies. This is a much more tense and gritty film that those slick productions. Also a lot more violent.
Here’s the trailer for The Killing.
Night and the City or The Killing?
This poll is closed
Night and the City
You have until Monday evening to vote. Next up in the BCB Winter Noir Classic is Detour (1945) and The Asphalt Jungle (1950).
Welcome back to those of you who skip the music and movies.
After midnight on the night of December 20 (so on December 21), it was announced that the Mets had come to 12-year, $315 million deal with free agent shortstop Carlos Correa. This came as a bit of a shock since Correa had previously agreed to a 13-year, $350 million deal with the San Francisco Giants. But the press conference scheduled to announce Correa in San Francisco had been canceled earlier that day after the Giants expressed concern after what they found in Correa’s physical with team doctors.
At the time, many accused the Giants of having “buyer’s remorse” and using a flimsy excuse to get out of the deal. But then the Mets apparently found the same issue with Correa’s ankle and they still haven’t finalized the deal. This led to Grant Brisbee writing a “mea culpa” to the Giants (sub. req) for jumping to conclusions.
Since the news leaked that the Mets had signed Correa and owner Steve Cohen started bragging about “we needed one more thing to put us over the top and this is it,” there has been radio silence from the Mets about Carlos Correa. What we have heard is that the two sides are still talking but Mike Puma writes that his sources put the odds of Correa ending up with the Mets at around 55 percent.
So is Correa still going to the Mets? That’s the question for tonight. Are the two sides going to work something out, or is Correa’s agent Scott Boras going to call up the Twins? Or maybe the Royals?
There’s a second question as well. Some of you (and you know who you are) were quite critical of the Cubs’ front office because they “did not submit a formal offer” for Correa. In retrospect, do you want to offer Jed Hoyer a mea culpa like Brisbee did? Or do you point out that the Cubs could not have possibly known what was on Correa’s physical before they decided not to make a formal offer?
Will Carlos Correa be a Met next year?
This poll is closed
Yes, at the rumored contract with some protections for the Mets
Yes, but at a significant discount from the rumored deal
No. He’s going elsewhere at this point
Do you think differently about the Cubs not offering Correa a contract after the events of the past week?
This poll is closed
Yes. The Cubs were wise not to get involved at that price range.
No. The Cubs didn’t know what his physical would reveal at the time.
Thank you so very much for all your support over the past year. I’ve always envisioned this place to express a lighter side of fandom and I hope you’ve enjoyed what I’ve had to offer. And I appreciate all of you who have stopped by, commented and voted. So please get home safely tonight. Stay warm. Tip your waitstaff. And join us again next year when we’ll have more BCB After Dark.