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BCB After Dark: Looking for an ace

The late-night/early-morning get-together for Cubs fans asks who will be the Cubs best starting pitcher this year.

Chicago Cubs v Miami Marlins Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

It’s another Wednesday evening at BCB After Dark: the swinging spot for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. It’s the last show of the week and we’re going out with a bang. We’re so glad you could come and join us. It’s cold out there but it’s warm in here. There are still a few good tables available. There’s a two-drink minimum, but it’s bring your own beverage. No doing the wave.

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 night I asked you if you thought that Nick Madrigal would be on the roster for Opening Day, 2023. We had the same poll question back in August and back then, 70 percent of you thought that he would be. My, how the times have changed. Since the signing of Dansby Swanson leaves Madrigal without a starting position, the numbers are almost exactly reversed. Yesterday, 69 percent of you feel that Madrigal won’t be on the Opening Day roster. I didn’t ask whether you thought the Cubs would trade him or they’d send him to Iowa, but from the discussion in Al Yellon’s article today, trading him seems to be the likeliest option. Probably to the Sox, although what we mean by “Sox” could vary.

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.

We lost guitarist Jeff Beck today at the age of 78. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Beck was the best lead guitarist for The Yardbirds, which is saying something since the other two were Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. Beck replaced Clapton in the band and I think it was an improvement. And before the Led Zeppelin fans jump all over me, I’m just going to say that Page wasn’t quite “JIMMY PAGE” in all capital letters when he was with The Yardbirds.

After Beck left the Yardbirds, he formed The Jeff Beck Group (which included Rod Stewart and Ron Wood) and then embarked on a solo career. It’s the solo career that we’re going to look at tonight because Beck became one of the top artists of jazz/rock fusion music throughout the seventies.

I’m on the record as saying that there was a lot of really crappy jazz/rock fusion in the seventies, but I also think some of it was pretty good. Even though I think his music was heavy on the “rock” and light on the “jazz,” Beck belongs in the latter category. Or maybe because he didn’t try to force jazz rhythms where they didn’t belong that Beck stood above many of his contemporaries.

So here is Jeff Beck in concert doing his version of the Charles Mingus classic, “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.” This appears to be from 2009. Also, I think that’s Robert Plant in the audience. It sure looks like him if it isn’t.

And because this is a film feature as well, I would be remiss to not mention the famous cameo that Beck has in director Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 classic, Blowup. Here is Beck and the rest of The Yardbirds (including Jimmy Page) in that highly-influential movie.

You voted in the first matchup of the second round of the BCB Winter Noir Classic and by a margin of 51 percent to 49 percent, you picked The Big Heat (1953) to advance over In a Lonely Place (1950). I could say that 51 percent of you are just wrong, but instead I’m going to be a good loser and admit that The Big Heat is a really great movie too. Plus, as I said on Monday evening, either way Gloria Grahame is a winner.

Our matchup for tonight features two films that advanced past the first round. In one corner stands Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), which beat Sweet Smell of Success (1957) to move on. In the other corner is Kiss Me Deadly (1955), which knocked off Nightmare Alley (1947).

The good news here is that both of these films can be watched for free on the internet. So you can watch them over the weekend and then vote if you’d like.

Odds Against Tomorrow. Directed by Robert Wise. Starring Harry Belafonte, Robert Ryan, Shelley Winters, Ed Begley and Gloria Grahame. This film was a labor of love for Belafonte, who wanted a film that would aggressively get out an anti-racism message during the civil rights battles of that era. Some have criticized the film for being rather unsubtle in its argument for racial tolerance, but Belafonte (whose production company was behind the film) really wanted something that was “in-your-face.” As I’ve written before, I think Belafonte was right here. In retrospect it seems heavy-handed, but 1959 wasn’t in any mood for “subtle” on race relations.

But besides that, Odds Against Tomorrow is also a really good heist film with some classic noir characters. The heist involves an ex-cop gone bad (Begley), a racist Southerner who was scarred from his time in the war and can’t re-adjust to civilian life (Ryan) and a good family man with a fatal flaw, in this case gambling (Belafonte). Beyond that, it features some terrific music. There’s the incredible soundtrack from the Modern Jazz Quartet that became one of their best albums. Belafonte gets to sing a song (of course) and jazz singer Mae Barnes sings “All Men are Evil.” Which again, a little too on-the-nose but I’ll forgive it because it’s awesome.

Odds Against Tomorrow is based on a novel by William P. McGivens, who also wrote the novel The Big Heat is based on. It also features two then-unknown actors in small parts—Cicely Tyson and Wayne Rogers.

Some also like to call Odds Against Tomorrow, which was released in October of 1959, as the final noir of the classic era. If everything in 1960 or after is neo-noir, then it probably is. But it’s also as much of a transitional film as High Sierra was back in 1940.

Here’s the trailer for Odds Against Tomorrow.

Kiss Me Deadly (1955). Directed by Robert Aldrich. Starring Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Paul Stewart and Juano Hernandez. Often considered the greatest filmed adaptation of a Mickey Spillane Mike Hammer detective novel, Meeker stars as Hammer who gets sent on a dangerous quest after he picks up a mysterious hitchhiker, played by Cloris Leachman in her film debut. After that, things go from bad to worse for Hammer. Fistfights and beautiful women. It’s all in a day’s work. What more do you need?

Kiss Me Deadly is extremely violent for a noir or any film of the 1950s. The film was condemned by a congressional committee for encouraging juvenile delinquency. Today, it’s considered to be a classic that was highly-influential on the French New Wave, not just for its subject matter, but for the way it did a lot without a lot of budget. Meeker’s violent and nihilistic Mike Hammer was also unlike almost anything else on the screen at the time.

I still maintain that Kiss Me Deadly won the first round because the trailer is flat-out terrific. Here it is again.

If you want to watch all of Odds Against Tomorrow, click here.

If you want to watch all of Kiss Me Deadly, click here.

So now you all have your homework for the weekend.


Odds Against Tomorrow or Kiss Me Deadly?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Odds Against Tomorrow
    (19 votes)
  • 70%
    Kiss Me Deadly
    (45 votes)
64 votes total Vote Now

You have until Monday evening to vote. Next up is our battle of the women’s names as Gilda (1946) takes on Laura (1944).

Welcome back to everyone who skips the music and movies.

I feel like I should ask you “Do you really think Carlos Correa is going to play with the Twins, or will something come up and he’ll sign with the Mariners in two weeks?” I know they had the press conference and everything in Minnesota, but I’m having trouble believing we’re really at the end here.

In the future, Carlos Correa will play for every team for 15 minutes.

To get serious, tonight’s question is going to be about the Cubs starting rotation. I’m going to ask “Who will be the Cubs’ best starter in 2023?” I’m not going to define “best” other than to say if the Cubs make the playoffs, who do you want starting the decisive game? Who do you think will have had the best season?

Yesterday earlier this week I asked you about Kyle Hendricks and while he may start the season on the injured list, it’s certainly possible that he’s healthy down the stretch and ends up being the best starter on the team. But I’m including six other pitchers who will likely be starters. If you think it will be someone else—maybe Caleb Kilian—just vote “other” and put your answer down in the comments. Maybe you think it will be someone the Cubs trade for at the deadline.

So who will be the Cubs’ best starting pitcher in 2023? Who will you want on the mound to start a must-win game?


Who will be the Cubs best starter in 2023?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Kyle Hendricks
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Adrian Sampson
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    Drew Smyly
    (6 votes)
  • 33%
    Justin Steele
    (94 votes)
  • 29%
    Marcus Stroman
    (82 votes)
  • 14%
    Jameson Taillon
    (40 votes)
  • 16%
    Hayden Wesneski
    (47 votes)
  • 1%
    Someone else (leave in comments)
    (5 votes)
282 votes total Vote Now

Thank you to everyone who stopped by this week. Especially thanks to everyone who voted and commented. I hope we made your winter nights just a little bit brighter. Stay warm out there. Get home safely. Tip your waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow night for more BCB After Dark.