Welcome back to another week here at BCB After Dark: the happening hangout for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Come on in out of the cold. We’ve got one good table that we’ve reserved for you. There’s no cover charge. Let us take your hat and coat for you. The show will start shortly. Bring your own beverage.
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 week I asked you who you thought was most-deserving of getting inducted in the Hall of Fame out of a group of players called “puzzling snubs” in an mlb.com article. (Almost all of them were from the eighties as well.) It wasn’t close as you judged Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker as the most-deserving of enshrinement with 31 percent of the vote. In second place was outfielder Kenny Lofton with 19 percent and in third place was first baseman Keith Hernandez with 11 percent. All ten of the candidates got at least two percent, however.
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.
I just discovered this clip of saxophonist Stanley Turrentine playing his composition “Sugar” on the Night Music show that David Sanborn hosted in the late-eighties on NBC. I’m pleased to share this with you because this performance rocks. Turrentine cut the length of the song down to a little over four minutes for television and he seems to be pouring 11 minutes worth of effort into the four.
Last week I asked to to vote in the BCB Winter Noir Classic between Double Indemnity (1944) and The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and by a wide margin of 74 percent to 26 percent, you picked Double Indemnity to advance. I begrudge no one who loves or voted for The Asphalt Jungle. It’s a great film. But Double Indemnity is Double Indemnity. I seeded it second for a reason.
Tonight we may have another mismatch, but you never know. The number one seed, The Maltese Falcon (1941) takes the field against Gun Crazy (1950), which advanced to the second round with a win over They Live By Night (1948).
The Maltese Falcon. Directed by John Huston. Starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet in his film debut. It’s also the directing debut for Huston.
“The stuff that dreams are made of.” Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you probably know the famous last line of this film. Humphrey Bogart steps into the role of Sam Spade, a hard-boiled private investigator who is only slightly more honest than the corrupt cesspool of San Francisco where he works. One morning in his office steps the beautiful Ruth Wonderly (Astor), who hires him to find her sister’s boyfriend. Spade believes nothing that Ruth tells him, which is good because everything she told him was a lie. That includes her name, which is actually Brigid O’Shaughnessy. But Spade believes her money, so he takes the job.
Spade’s partner gets murdered on the job for Brigid and Spade gets caught up in a quest for the Maltese Falcon, a medieval treasure of immense value. Brigid is after it, as well as Kasper Gutman (Greenstreet) and the two gangsters working for him, played by Lorre and Elisha Cook Jr. It’s a tale of murder, love and betrayal. It’s a classic for a reason.
This was actually the third attempt to adapt the Dashiell Hammett novel, after a 1931 version starring Bebe Daniels and Ricardo Cortez, and Satan Met a Lady (1936), starring Bette Davis and Warren William. The first one was good (although not anywhere near as good as this version) but it was basically banned in the US after the Production Code was adopted in 1934. I’ve never seen Satan Met a Lady, but everyone who has seen it has called it hot garbage, including Bette Davis.
But Huston’s The Maltese Falcon was a departure from the previous versions and even from crime movies that preceded it. It’s often called the very first film noir, although that’s a bit like declaring what was the first rock ’n’ roll song or the first crime novel. There’s no clear dividing line, but The Maltese Falcon certainly influenced every noir film that was made in its wake. Huston and cinematographer Arthur Edeson revolutionized the look of the the crime picture that became the look of noir. They put the shadows and darkness into it, among other innovations. Huston also de-emphasized the whole mystery whodunnit aspect of the plot and put the focus on the characters and their motivations, especially on Spade. This is also the film that made Bogart a superstar and Astor, Lorre, Greenstreet, Cook and Lee Patrick as Spade’s secretary are all terrific.
As a fun aside, Bogart liked working with Greenstreet and Lorre so much he saw to it that both of them were cast in Casablanca the next year so they could spend more time together. It’s clear from the performances that these three men enjoyed working with each other.
Here’s the trailer for The Maltese Falcon (1941).
Here’s what I wrote earlier about Gun Crazy.
Gun Crazy. Directed by Joseph H. Lewis. Starring Peggy Cummins and John Dall. Bart (Dall) is a man who has been crazy about guns his entire life, which gets him into trouble. After doing a stint in reform school, he meets Laurie (Cummins), who works at a carnival as a trick shot artist. They fall in lust at first sight over their mutual love of guns. The sexual innuendo of the two and their love of guns will not be lost on anyone.
Eventually, Laurie convinces Bart to leave with her and start a life of crime.
Gun Crazy was produced from the legendary King Brothers Productions, a small and brash independent studio that was noted for churning out lots of cheap B-pictures with lurid subject matter. But they also made good cheap B-pictures and Gun Crazy was arguably their masterpiece. The script was completely re-written by legendary screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who worked for the King Brothers anonymously while he was blacklisted. (Trumbo’s pseudonym would later win an Academy Award for The Brave Ones, another King Brothers production.) Trumbo wrote Gun Crazy as he was preparing to serve his year in federal prison for contempt of Congress.
Being shot on a small budget, Gun Crazy takes advantage of what would later be called “guerrilla filmmaking.” Lewis shot the famous long bank robbery and getaway scene on the streets of Montrose, California without really getting permission or telling anyone. OK, he did get permission from the bank so they didn’t call the real cops on him. But they were the only ones who knew apart from the actors and cameramen.
Adding to what I wrote last time, Gun Crazy has a bit of a rebel spirit that you could only get from something made outside the studio system. It also has one of the most believable romances in the history of noir. These two gangsters don’t just fall in love because they’re pretty people and the plot demands it. There’s a real sexual attraction between Bart and Laurie based on their mutual love of guns. That theme would get picked up in director Arthur Penn’s 1967 classic Bonnie and Clyde, which is one of the most influential American films of all time. It also owes a huge debt to Gun Crazy.
Since we don’t have a trailer for Gun Crazy, I’ve been showing scenes from it. This one is the famous bank heist one. Lewis didn’t get permission to shoot this on the streets of Montrose, CA. As noted above, the only people who knew they were making a film were Cummins, Dall, the guy playing the police officer and the people inside the bank. The dialog was all improvised. And they had to do it all in one take. It’s impressive filmmaking.
The Maltese Falcon or Gun Crazy?
The Maltese Falcon
You have until Wednesday evening to vote.
On Wednesday night, we’ll go from Bogart as Sam Spade to Bogart as Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep. It will take on The Postman Always Rings Twice, which advanced past Scarlet Street in the first round. Those are two great films in this matchup. Don’t miss it.
Welcome back to everyone who skipped the music and movies.
Early this morning in Outside the Confines, there was an interesting discussion in the comment section about who the Cubs fifth starter will be to start the season. In case you haven’t heard, Patrick Mooney reported that Kyle Hendricks is “doubtful” to be ready to start the season. (The Athletic sub. req.) This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to many of us who were expecting such an announcement, but it’s still good to get confirmation from someone who has talked to Hendricks himself.
So that means there’s an opening in the Cubs starting rotation. Marcus Stroman, Jameson Taillon, Justin Steele and Drew Smyly are locks to be starting, if they’re healthy on Opening Day. But there are a couple of candidates to take Hendricks’ spot until he’s healthy again.
The sentimental favorite is rookie Hayden Wesneski. Wesneski pitched 33 innings last year and made four starts and two relief appearances. He went 3-2 with 2.18 and Cubs fans everywhere fell in love with his hard-breaking slider. Wesneski struck out 33 batters and struck out only seven.
But Adrian Sampson is a veteran with a much longer track record of starting. Also, Sampson has quietly been pretty good over the past two seasons with the Cubs. Heck, he’s been pretty great for a fifth starter. Last season, Sampson made 19 starts for the Cubs and two relief appearances. He went 104 1⁄3 innings and went 4-5 with a 3.11 ERA. He doesn’t have the same strikeout and walk numbers as Wesneski (73 strikeouts and 27 walks), but his numbers are solid. Also, he did it over a lot more innings.
So tonight we’re asking “Who should be the Cubs’ fifth starter to start the year?” Sampson or Wesneski? I’m adding in a “Someone else” option for those of you who think it should be Javier Assad or someone like that.
I’m going to add in another poll as well. It’s “Who will be the Cubs’ fifth starter?” So maybe you think Wesneski should get the call but you think David Ross is going to give it to Sampson. So you can vote on both.
Also, remember that whomever you vote for is only who gets the first crack at the fifth starter job. They don’t get the job all season. David Ross can replace them with the other one if the first one fails to perform up to standards.
So who should be and who will be the Cubs’ fifth starter to start the year?
Who should be the Cubs’ 5th starter to start 2023?
Someone else (leave in comments)
And . . .
Who will be the Cubs’ 5th starter to start 2023?
Someone else (leavve in comments)
Thank you again for stopping by. We hope that we’ve made your evening a little more pleasant. Please recycle any cans or bottles. Get home safely. Tell your friends about us. Tip your waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow night of another edition of BCB After Dark.